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7 Weird Dog Sitting Positions + Meaning

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 weird, but often this is completely normal behavior. I will go into details 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

Pug sitting in a puppy sit with both legs splayed to one side.
Photo by Steshka Willems

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.

Important notice: There is something I want to show you that will change the way you interact with your dog. Check it out here.

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

Beagle sitting in a lazy dog sit.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin

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

German Shepherd sitting up straight.
Photo by Marcus Cramer

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 a 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 exercising 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.

I like to prevent any issues early, so I am feeding her this hip and joint supplement since she is 6 months old and she loves the chicken flavor.

There are various other options like the nature-based green lip mussel powder and depending on your exact condition, one may be preferable over the other.

However, beware of the many low-quality products flooding the market which are often advertised as “hip and joint supplement” 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 relation to bonding with your dog).

Also, avoid lifting your dog and setting him up with the right sitting position, it’s best if he does it naturally and willingly.

Next time, instead of wondering why your dog is sitting weird, you’ll know the exact reason.

Disclaimer: This blog post doesn’t substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. If your dog shows any signs of illness, call your vet.

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About Danielle
I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.

John Nicholson

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 🤔🤔

Cheers John


Thursday 11th of February 2021

Hi John,

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.

Cheers, Danielle


Thursday 8th of October 2020

My dog sits like a meerkat....

Marnie Firipis

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

Hey Marnie,

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.

Cheers, Danielle

Pauline Tan

Wednesday 26th of August 2020

Hi Danielle, my 18th month Toy Poodle has been diagnosed with Grade 3 MLP 2 weeks ago on both her hind legs. My world seem crashing down. She is on physiotherapy now and I like to seek for 2nd opinion. The therapist request to try for 10 sessions to see if there is any improvement before surgery to be discussed. I also read about surgery recommended for grade 3 and 4. Any miracle story for grade 3 to avoid surgery? As for supplement, she is taking human grade Marine Omega, Probio and Bone formula daily. Many thanks in advance for your kind reply. Pauline


Saturday 29th of August 2020

Hi Pauline,

I'm sorry your dog and you have to go through this. First of all, definitely get a second opinion on the matter.

Secondly, there probably are cases of dogs with any grade that avoided surgery, but often this is a consideration due to their current health status and age. At 18 months, it might be best to perform surgery to avoid further damage, even though the rule is the higher the grade, the higher the likelihood of reoccurrence after the surgery.

The American College of Veterinary Surgeons states that surgery is considered for grade 2 and higher.

Definitely look more into supplements, keep your dog's weight down and exercise her appropriately. At least you found out what's wrong, now you can hopefully steer into the right direction.

Wish you the best, Danielle