Personally, I love it when a dog leans into me. I take it as a sign of affection and comfort. And whilst it often can be, that’s not always the case.
So here’s a rundown of the potential reasons your dog is leaning on you, just to be sure you don’t mistake love for fear.
Some dogs are naturally afraid. Particularly if you have a rescue dog where there was the possibility of abuse in her earlier days. Leaning against you, can be a way for her to feel more secure.
There could be fireworks outside, or demolition work going on, loud noises she isn’t familiar with… all could contribute to her wanting to feel close and supported by you.
Anxiety around new people or in new situations could also make her lean on you for support, protection or comfort.
Over time, and with your displays of love, protection and stability, she should shed her insecurities and settle.
If your dog is following you around and leaning on you when standing still or sitting, it could be a sign of separation anxiety.
Perhaps you moved recently, or you’re spending more time away from the house. Following and leaning are both signs that she could be anxious in her new environment or that she’s not happy.
Think about whether there’s been any changes to her routine. If so, this could help determine if separation anxiety is the root cause and allow you to manage it.
We all demand attention in different ways. Some vocally, others will take a more physical approach. If you’ve trained your dog not to bark, then the likelihood is, she will use a physical method of attracting your attention.
Leaning on you, and pawing you, are both good solutions in the mind of your pooch.
Watch what she does when you stand up or move. If she’s demanding attention, she’ll most likely guide you toward her need.
Your furry friend could be protecting you when out and about, particularly where there are other dogs and people around – at the park for example.
There are many ways a dog can show their protection, one of which is leaning. She’s telling the world that she’s got your back.
Is your dog leaning against you when you’re in a certain location? Is she showing other signs of protection – her lean is strong, she’s alert? These are easy ways to identity protection over other possible reasons.
Needing physical support could be the cause in senior dogs.
She’s frail, lost muscle mass, is tired more often, which, in certain situations, means she leans against you for support. Ultimately, to help keep her upright.
If she is an older dog and leaning on you more and more, consider the amount of time you’re ‘making’ her stand – walks, playtime, even just going about your day-to-day house chores where she wants to be by your side, all amount to more time on her feet.
If you’re out on a walk with your dog, or perhaps playing in the back garden, and she suddenly leans against you, it may mean something more sinister has happened. An ear infection could make her lose balance, or it could be something more serious.
Visit your vet immediately for tests to get to the bottom of it.
Snuggling for warmth is something we all do on a cold winter’s day. Your dog is no different.
Her leaning against you, or literally climbing on top of you, is her way of creating warmth for the two of you.
So sit back and enjoy. Doggie cuddles are the best!
Your dog can’t express how she feels verbally, so she does what she can physically.
A softening of the eyes, smiley mouth, relaxed posture and, yes, leaning against you, are all her way of showing you how much she loves you. How content she is.
Show her how much you love her in return through tummy rubs, playtime, cuddles, wonderful long walks… whatever it is she loves the most, do it! (Unless it’s food. She may love your displays of affection through food, but it’s not going to do her any good in the long run.)
Dominance has – warily – made this list.
Originally, it was believed that when a dog leans on you they were asserting dominance. But in fact, dog behaviour experts have pretty much ruled this out unless they are particularly aggressive dogs anyway, or they are acting aggressive in other ways too – teeth bared, growls, hackles raised, etc…
So, another reason is more likely the cause.
Ultimately, figuring out why your pooch is leaning against you will take familiarity of your dog, her behaviours, personality and the situation she’s in. But you should be able to figure it out. With time.