We all know it and have seen it multiple times: the dog sit.
Every dog of any breed and age performs the dog sit and it’s seemingly the only command that comes naturally to a canine.
The pup is sitting upright with his knees flat to his sides and the feet are neatly tucked underneath. But sometimes the positioning of the dog sit might change and before you know it, the dog sits sloppy on your feet.
To owners, it may seem like the dog sits weirdly, but often this is completely normal behavior. I will go into detail below, the reasons might surprise you.
In case you ever wondered if that or any other dog position has a specific meaning, I will tell you, yes it does.
If your dog is sitting a certain way, it’s always for a reason and this reason could include forms of bonding or early signs of serious illnesses – so always be mindful when evaluating your dog’s sitting positions.
1. The Puppy Sit
The puppy sit – also called lazy sit, sloppy sit, or frog sit – is a phenomenon that occurs most often (as the name suggests) in young puppies.
The dog sits with his legs splayed to one or both sides and flops into a sloppy posture.
But why is it seen so commonly in puppies and is it something you need to worry about?
When puppies go through these awkward growth stages you will find them running around with their limps flying to the sides and sometimes they just take this lazy stance.
Puppies are very flexible because their joints are not yet connected and the bones are soft, leading to uncoordinated walking and sitting.
Boring training sessions or fatigue may also cause the “puppy sit”, so make sure that you always keep your training sessions fun and interesting with puzzle games, for example.
If your dog is still in this growing phase, then don’t try to read signs of health-related problems into the puppy sit if you exercise your pup safely.
A constant sloppy posture may need to be discouraged with techniques that I will explain below in order to prevent damaging the joints.
2. The Lazy Dog Sit
It’s all cute and fun seeing your little pup in this awkward position but when an adult dog suddenly displays this behavior, medical reasons could be the underlying cause.
If your dog flops into this position once in a while, it shouldn’t be a problem but needs close monitoring in case it gets worse.
Health Issues May Be the Cause
Your dog assuming the lazy dog sitting position or the sloppy sit might point towards an underlying medical condition.
At the very least, you should take measures to prevent these from happening.
- Conditions like hip dysplasia or luxating patella commonly result in different symptoms including the puppy sit to soothe sore joints.
- Arthritis or spinal problems prevent your dog from adapting a straight sit.
- A serious trauma from a car accident will also cause damage to the skeleton which could be permanent or a passing problem.
Routinely sitting in a sloppy posture is probably a sign that something is wrong and causing your dog discomfort but what steps should you take in such a case and will it resolve without action?
More on that at the end of this article.
3. Dogs Sitting Like Humans
It’s so funny seeing your dog sit like a human, maybe even watching TV in the evening but this behavior is pretty similar to the puppy sit in regards to the causes.
Your dog chilling in this position once in a while is probably a result of him imitating you. Dog breeds with long legs like the Great Dane tend to relax in this “sit” more often compared to smaller-legged breeds.
Some dogs also adapt to this posture because they like your reaction to it when you burst out in laughter.
Keep in mind that any sitting position should be closely monitored and you should look for cues of discomfort.
4. The Straight Sit
Now that I have talked about the weird ways of dog sitting, I should also mention the straight sit.
This is the only position that should be taught to puppies from the beginning and should always be encouraged to prevent back pain.
The dog’s spine should be upright with both knees to the sides and his feet tucked nicely underneath.
Just like humans, dogs should take care of their posture and an effortless straight sit is a sign of a healthy spine.
5. Dog Sitting By Your Feet
Dogs are pack animals and they love spending time with their companions.
It’s a form of bonding when your dog chooses to stay close to you but it can also mean reassurance and security in a fearful dog.
You as the leader are the role model that does everything right in your dog’s eyes.
The leader always chooses the best resting spot so sitting beside you must be the best option and it may even get your attention.
There is nothing you need to be worrying about when it comes to this position.
If you are annoyed by the lack of personal space, provide your dog with a stuffed Kong and place it in his dog bed.
6. Dog Sitting On Your Face
Placing their bum on top of you is a type of scent marking, your dog simply wants to claim you as his pack member.
It can also be a weird form of cuddling with the goal to be as close to you as possible.
The line between cuddling and “dominance” is fairly small but it can also be a learned behavior that you have established.
Similar to the human sit, your dog perhaps wants to get a certain reaction out of you.
What to do: In the case of learned behavior, you will want to stop giving the reaction that you previously displayed. This might eliminate the behavior altogether.
If your dog is just looking for a warm cuddly place, an orthopedic dog bed with soft blankets should do the trick.
Redirecting your dog onto his dog bed may also be an option if the behavior persists.
7. Dog Sitting On Other Dogs
Well, some dogs like to cuddle a lot with their humans but what does it mean when your dog is sitting or laying on top of other dogs? In general, there are two possible reasons: play or “dominance”.
The display of dominance wouldn’t only become visible when sitting on another dog’s head.
Other dominant body language signs like placing the paw or head on another dog’s back could indicate this tendency.
But keep in mind that dominance is not a personality trait, rather it’s a descriptive term for the interchangeable social relationship between dog/dog or dog/human which means that dog A may act dominant towards dog B while dog A may show submissive signs towards dog C (additionally, dog B may be dominant towards dog C although he was submissive to A).
If there are no particular signs of dominance, then they could simply be playing.
Playful behavior is always relaxed and both dogs will feel comfortable with the situation.
What To Do If Your Dog Sits Unhealthy
If your adult dog assumes the number two “lazy sit” very often, then it might be time to investigate health problems.
So, before you do anything about your dog’s sitting positions, check with a vet to rule out any medical problems.
The sooner you catch the issue the better his prognosis will be.
Contrary to injuries like muscle sprain, joint or bone conditions won’t get better over time.
If your dog gets the unfortunate diagnosis of a skeleton issue, your vet will probably recommend physiotherapy or hydrotherapy for healthy exercise without straining the joints.
Pain medication or surgery may be necessary for more serious problems.
Keep in mind that every dog is supposed to sit straight, it’s not something that is breed-dependent.
However, some breeds are prone to developing joint problems and my Rottweiler is among these breeds.
There are various other options like the nature-based green lip mussel powder or general joint supplements to help with preventing joint issues.
Not all work equally well though so research beforehand.
Many low-quality products flooding the market are often advertised as “hip and joint supplements” and made up of many unnatural products and fillers.
Provide your dog with a comfortable dog bed – an orthopedic dog bed like mentioned above might be worth the investment. If your dog doesn’t have a command for his place yet, introduce one.
Recommended Reading: 10 Chew-Proof Dog Beds (includes a couple of orthopedic dog beds).
If your dog is healthy, encourage the right sitting positions.
After the vet examined your pup and declares him healthy, then you can start working on a proper sit. If your dog’s still a puppy, only teach and reward a straight sit from the get-go.
This doesn’t mean that you have to correct him every time he assumes the “puppy sit” as this may confuse your puppy and is a natural part of growing up but rather that you just encourage him to sit straight.
If you have an adult dog, you can also redirect your dog into a straight sit or lie down whenever you see him sitting sloppy.
These are only slight corrections and not in the slightest invasive.
Once your dog connects the right sitting position with a reward, he will do it much more on his own which can make this little exercise really fun.
Try to discourage him from assuming the lazy sit positions and don’t praise him for sitting like that, even though they may look cute or funny.
Although the couch may be very comfy, your dog shouldn’t jump on and off furniture all day if he already displays signs of joint problems.
If you’re just being careful, don’t worry about this too much, and just try to encourage him to sleep in his orthopedic dog bed more often while enjoying the time he comes up to you for cuddling sessions (I explained the importance of affection in bonding with your dog).
Also, avoid lifting your dog and setting him up in the right sitting position, it’s best if he does it naturally on his own.
Next time, instead of wondering why your dog is sitting weirdly, you’ll know the exact reason.
Wednesday 30th of November 2022
My dog stands near the sofa with her butt on the sofa. Ive seen dogs sleep with head hanging off but never just hanging out with butt on sofa and front part standing on floor. Is that normal?
Friday 2nd of December 2022
@Danielle, Thank you. We got her as a pup (goldendoodle)..Shes about a year and a half old now..She seems fine otherwise..just a very strange thing to witness.
Wednesday 30th of November 2022
If your dog has no other behavior changes or symptoms of medical issues, it's most likely just fine. If you do notice any changes, it's best to visit the vet to be sure but every dog is different. If yours is a pup or rescue, they may just learn "how to dog" for lack of a better word and figure things out.
Thursday 11th of February 2021
Hi, my dog had a cruciate ligament operation on his knee in August 2020 and six months on he still limps when he climbs out of bed after a stretch! He’s fine when he goes for a walk and he even chases after things without a problem! But as soon as he gets in his bed at all starts again! We’ve had him back to the vets and X-rays show there isn’t a problem! I’m very confused 🤔🤔
Thursday 11th of February 2021
what did your vet say about this? Hope he didn't just x-ray your dog and sent you home without fixing the underlying issue. You could definitely get a second opinion from somebody who specializes in these things and even let them evaluate the x-rays (that's what I did for my Rottweiler's x-rays even though it was just a precautionary hip x-ray).
Does it also happen when he's sleeping on the couch or floor? Maybe it just feels sore after laying down for some time or maybe he has the wrong type of bed. How big is your dog and what kind of bed does he have? A high-quality orthopedic (not just those that use this term for marketing) can make a huge difference.
Could be nothing and just the effect after the operation but it's really quite some time ago so personally, I'd definitely look further into this.
Hope your dog is well soon, Danielle
Sunday 17th of January 2021
I have a 2 year old female Chiahuahua, why does my dog sit on her front knuckles? It doesn't seem to bother her. she only does this when she is sitting. If she is close I'll fix it but she usually will return it to the way she likes.
Wednesday 20th of January 2021
Hey Ethel, dogs usually assume the position that's most comfortable for them and sometimes this is the case when they have pain sitting normally. As long as you can rule out any medical issues, I'd say it's fine if you have an eye on it when you're there.
Just like with the puppy sit, it may not be the best for your dog's posture but shouldn't develop any serious issue as long as it only happens occasionally.
Thursday 8th of October 2020
My dog sits like a meerkat....
Monday 31st of August 2020
Can it occur due to pregnancy in a dog. Like in the last 14 to 20 days.
Wednesday 2nd of September 2020
just like for humans, a pregnancy can be very exhausting and slumping into the easiest (albeit not healthiest) sitting position is definitely possible. Temporarily, this shouldn't be a problem, but encouraging your dog to sit properly is the good thing in the long run.