Why Does My Golden Retriever Sit On Me?

One of the biggest reasons why your Golden Retriever is sitting on you is because they want attention. It could also be them trying to claim you, or just because they love you! It’s an example of your Golden Retriever using body language to communicate with you – though it can be a lot to have a fully grown 25-34kg dog on your lap.

Check out the rest of the article to find out all the reasons why Golden Retrievers want to sit on you, how to encourage (or discourage) this behaviour, and more.

All the Reasons Your Golden Retriever Is Sitting on You

There are a bunch of reasons why your Golden Retriever might sit on you. It might be hard to figure out which, but checking the rest of their body language and the context should give you an idea.

Your Golden Retriever might be sitting on your because they’re:

  • Attention seeking: If your Goldie wants attention, they won’t be afraid to get up close. They might want a cuddle, a belly rub, or for you to make a fuss of them.
  • Bored: Golden Retrievers are intelligent, active breeds. They need plenty of mental stimulation and at least 1-2 hours of exercise per day. Sitting on your lap could be a signal to play or a hint that they’re ready for a big walk.
  • Hungry: Golden Retrievers are highly motivated by food. Once it gets anywhere near dinner time, they’ll be excited to eat. If you’re a little behind schedule or if they think you could forget, they’ll be happy to remind you.
  • Asserting dominance: Dogs will naturally either fight for dominance or show their submissiveness. Sitting in a position higher than you in one way they’ll show this, as well as rubbing their body on you to transfer their scent onto you.
  • Anxious: If your Golden Retriever has separation anxiety or is simply worried, they’ll come to you for comfort. Sitting on you is their way of trying to persuade you to stay. It can be accompanied by crying, pacing, shaking, and hiding away.
  • Territorial: Golden Retrievers might put their smell on you to stake their claim. You’re their human, and they want everyone to know about it. Sitting on you shows any other pets that you belong to them too.
  • They’ve been trained to: If your Golden Retriever used to sit on your lap as a little puppy, they will naturally continue to do this even when they’re older and bigger. Similarly, if you train them to hop up, they’ll remember the command and obediently jump up.
  • Guarding you: Golden Retrievers are fiercely loyal pets, and naturally protective. They might sit on you to put themselves between you and any perceived danger. 
  • Feeling unwell: If your Goldie is injured or sick, they can’t tell you what the problem is. Acting clingy and needing comfort is a sign that something isn’t right. If you’re worried, the best thing to do is make a vet appointment. Look out for other signs like lost appetite, lethargy, losing weight, crying, and changes in behaviour.
  • Wanting you to move: If you’re in their favourite spot or in their way, they’ll make it clear that they want you to move. Be careful with this, as moving is submissive, and it might cause confusion over who the boss is.
  • Showing affection: Sitting close to you and staring into your eyes is the doggy version of a hug. Climbing onto your lap and cuddling up is a display of affection from your Goldie.
  • Missing you: If you’ve been out of the house or busy for a while, your little Golden friend will be excited to see you. They just want to sit right next to you and spend time with you.

Why Has My Golden Retriever Suddenly Starting Sitting On Me?

If your Golden Retriever suddenly starts sitting on you when they don’t usually, it could be a direct response to something.

It could be:

  • If you’ve moved house.
  • If someone from the family has left or isn’t around anymore.
  • If there’s a change in routine or schedule.
  • If there’s a lifestyle change (e.g. if you start working different hours, a new baby, or a new pet – all of these can unsettle your Golden Retriever).

Changes in behaviour could be because your Golden Retriever is feeling anxious and unsettled and needing extra comfort from you. They might stop sitting on you when they feel more confident, or they might form a new, long-lasting habit.

Is It Okay for My Golden Retriever to Sit On Me?

Whether it’s okay for your Golden Retriever to sit on you entirely depends on you.

Some people might welcome their Golden Retriever sitting on them for a cuddle, while others might not enjoy it and actively want them to stop. It depends on what you think is acceptable.

There’s no right or wrong answer here. If your Goldie sits on your lap but you don’t want them to, then you can train them not to jump up. If you like the idea of them sitting on you, then encourage them and reinforce the behaviour. 

Things to Consider When Letting Your Golden Retriever Sit On You

If you’re deciding whether to encourage your Golden Retriever to sit on your lap, there are a couple of things you should consider first:

Are they too heavy? As a large breed of dog that can weigh up to 34kg on average, it’s a lot to have them sitting on you. 

They don’t differentiate so they might sit on someone else’s lap – for example, a visitor, an elderly relative, a niece, or a nephew. This might be too much for someone else, so you’ll need to be clear when you train them on what they’re allowed (or not allowed) to do.

Are you teaching them that sitting on your lap equals giving them what they want? If your Goldie learns that they can get what they want by climbing on you, this will be a behaviour they repeat often.

How to Stop Your Golden Retriever From Sitting on You

Before you can figure out how to prevent your Golden Retriever from sitting on you, you’ll need to work out why they’re trying to sit on you. This’ll affect what you’re going to do about it.

To try and stop your Golden Retriever from sitting on you, you can try:


Offering either treats or toys will take your Golden Retriever’s attention away from you. By playing with them and giving them attention, they might not feel the need to climb on you. 

This is also useful if they have separation anxiety – investing in some mentally stimulating toys will mean they have less time to worry and wonder where you are. 


As intelligent dogs, Golden Retrievers are eager to learn new commands and to please you by being well behaved. 

You can teach them not to climb on you, or specifically not on the sofa, or whatever works best for you. Remember to praise and reward when they do good, and firmly tell them when they’re in the wrong but never physically punish or shout at them.

Ignoring It

A lot of the reasons why your Golden Retriever sits on you are linked to them wanting attention or wanting a specific response for you. By ignoring them and not giving them what they want, you teach them that sitting on you doesn’t equal action.

With puppies, you can remove them and put them on the floor. But with older dogs, you might need to move away or command them to get down if ignoring them doesn’t work.

Don’t Encourage It

As much as possible, try not to encourage your Golden Retriever to sit on you if you don’t want them to. 

Try to avoid eye contact, move them off your lap, and don’t invite them up. Also, avoid giving them treats while they’re up there as you’d be positively reinforcing their behaviour. 

Related Questions

Why Does My Golden Retriever Lean On Me?

If your Golden Retriever leans on you, it’s most likely to do with an emotional need. It’s similar to if they sit on you – they either want attention, they’ve missed you, or they’re anxious and need comforting.

A lot of Golden Retrievers will lean on you no matter where you’re sitting. They’ll cuddle up and get comfortable and probably sit there all day unless you get up.

Why Does My Golden Retriever Lay On Me?

If your Golden Retriever lays on you, it could be how they show affection, if they’re used to the behaviour, if they want attention, or if they have separation anxiety. It could be a combination of reasons or just one.

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