Why Does My Golden Retriever Sit or Lean On Me? (10 Reasons)

The Golden Retriever. Perhaps the most iconic image of the perfect dog.  Those adoring brown eyes and beautiful, gleaming fur. They are friendly, highly trainable, and they seem to understand us in more ways than one.

But, you may ask, why does my Golden Retriever sit or lean on me? Good Question! Let’s find out.

A Golden Retriever will sit or lean on you for many reasons including boredom, stress, hunger, dominance, or even to show affection. A Golden Retriever who sits or leans on you, is using body language to communicate its needs to its pet parent.

Paying attention to your dog’s behavior is key to understanding why your rather large canine companion might act like a lap dog. Keep reading to find out what exactly your dog means when he sits on you or leans up against you.

Why does my golden retriever sit on me?

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I’m Bored!

Golden Retrievers are one of the most active pet dog breeds around, which means they require plenty of daily exercises and mental stimulation. A healthy adult dog can benefit greatly from over an hour of activity a day.

A romp in the dog park or a long walk may work for some dogs, but if your Golden Retriever is sitting in your lap or leaning on you, he may be trying to tell you something! I’m bored! Play with me! So pick up on your pet’s signals and grab that leash.

He Thinks He is in Charge

While Golden Retrievers don’t necessarily come to mind when one thinks of a dominant breed, boundaries need to be set nevertheless. It’s an instinct for dogs to either assert their dominance or let us know they are submissive. A big fluffy butt in your lap can easily signify that your pup thinks he is the pack leader. 

But remember, as cute as it may seem, this is something you want to prevent as a dog owner. It’s very important for animals to understand their place in the family and to establish you as the boss. This is easily done by consistent dog training and will benefit you both in the end. 

Spreading His Scent

One of a dog’s strongest senses is his olfactory, aka his sense of smell. Dogs, even nice friendly ones like Golden Retrievers, are at least somewhat territorial, and the best way for a dog to say “Mine” to another dog is for something (or in this case, someone) to have his scent.

A Golden Retriever will sit on you, rub on you, or lean on you as a way to make you smell like him. If you’re carrying his scent, it will be clear to other dogs (who have much better senses of smell than us humans) that you belong to another dog. Cute right?

Please Pay Attention to Me

You probably can’t find a dog that loves to snuggle more than a Golden Retriever. They can never get enough of your attention! A good belly rub, a scratch behind the ears, or a wrestling match can work wonders. But if you aren’t giving your dog the attention it needs, he won’t let you get away with it. 

Attention can also be in the form of a walk or a training session. And don’t forget the rewards. Praise and a tasty treat (like these Burger Bites at Amazon) can make your dog’s day. If your Golden Retriever is used to a certain amount of activity or attention, he may pester you if that diminishes. 

I Miss You!

Golden retriever sitting on woman's lap.

All dogs can experience the blues. And not having you around may be the culprit. Loneliness and separation anxiety can be a serious problem in dogs and cause behavioral issues. A dog who is nervous about being left alone may try to convince you to stay by sitting on you when you are around! Like a big, furry paperweight!

If your anxious dog paces or uses verbal cues (cries) when you are preparing to leave, he may be trying to tell you something. A nervous dog often needs a safe space, and having a place to go can help ease your dog’s anxiety. This can be in the form of a dog crate or den, or a comfortable bed that he knows belongs to him. 

It’s also important to acknowledge if your schedule has changed. Are you working longer hours? Is your dog used to having you around? Paying close attention to this may be the key to understanding why your Golden Retriever suddenly thinks your lap is all his. 

Is It Dinner Time Yet?

It’s been said that dogs will continue to eat until we stop feeding them (find out how much to feed your Golden here). If it is even remotely close to dinner time, (or even if it’s not), when your Golden Retriever sits or leans on you, he may be looking for food. Kind of a “don’t forget about dinner time” reminder.

Be cognizant of the time and as long as you don’t skip their favorite meal, you may be able to avoid a sixty-pound ball of fluff in your lap.

Isn’t This What You Wanted?

Without realizing it, we can inadvertently program our pets to adapt to certain behaviors. This may not always be a good thing. If your Golden Retriever is sitting or leaning on you, it may be because that is what you have been encouraging him to do all along.

Dogs respond well to toys, so if you have been allowing your dog to climb into your lap with a favorite ball or stuffed animal, he may not know any different. 

A gentle redirection with toys or a treat can help your dog to better understand his place. And because, all they want is to please you, making sure your dog understands your cues may be all it takes. Remember to reward your dog for positive behavior and ultimately the reward, in the end, will be for you both. Positive reinforcement is the best way to train your puppy or adult dog.

I Don’t Feel So Good

In a perfect world, dogs could speak our language, and making us aware of something would be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. So what happens if your Golden Retriever isn’t feeling so great? Yup, you guessed it. Taking a seat in your lap may be their only means of communicating their needs. 

It’s important to pick up on your dog’s mannerisms and body language so you can be aware when something isn’t right. Is he acting strange and following you everywhere? He may need a closer look.

On further inspection, if your dog seems to be sick, running a fever or acting lethargic, medical attention may be in order. And as a dog parent, it’s your responsibility to have his best interests at heart.  Having a keenness when it comes to your Golden Retriever could literally be life-saving. 

Move Please

We all have our favorite spot in the house. Maybe it’s a certain corner of the couch or that beat-up old recliner. Dogs are no different and become creatures of habit much like us. So, if you are inconsiderate enough to be in your dog’s favorite place, they may ask you to move!

As with other aspects of letting him know you are boss, it’s crucial not to let that your furry friend take over, as cute as it may be. Your spot is your spot and unless you invite your dog to curl up with you, dogs need to recognize their place. Establishing yourself as the leader will easily confirm this. 

Honestly? I Just Really Love You!

Let’s face it, dogs are man’s (and woman’s) best friend. And a Golden Retriever is no exception to that rule. Have you ever had your dog stare soulfully into your eyes? That’s true love and affection. And sometimes, there is no explanation for sitting on you, other than, they just can’t get enough of you. It’s the doggy version of a hug.

In truth, this is the most common reason your Golden Retriever seems to always be sitting or leaning on you when you’re sitting down. Your Golden loves you to pieces, and you are their whole world.

Honestly, is that such a bad thing? 

This golden retriever really, really NEEDS to sit on his owner lap right now!

Discover how to train your Golden Retriever by playing games: 21 games to play with your Golden that will make them smarter and better behaved!

To Wrap It Up

There are a multitude of reasons why your Golden Retriever wants to either sit on you or lean up against you. Your Golden is telling you in dog language what he wants.

You can use the reasons I gave you above to help determine what your dog’s body language is trying to tell you so that you can address your pups needs. That’s the way to have a happy dog, without him constantly sitting on you!




Bryan Mullennix

Bryan's a freelance travel photographer and happy dog dad. He currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife, his son, and two dogs Nom Nom & Speck.

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