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I've read on some sites that dogs lean on you because they feel comfortable with you. Other sites say that it is a sign of dominance. So, is it good or bad?

2
  • If your dog is not leaning on other dogs, I wouldn't worry about it
    – Huangism
    Jan 12 '15 at 15:01
  • Not sure what it is when they do it to their owner, but dogs I meet outside that lean against me usually just seem to want some petting.
    – Layna
    Dec 6 '17 at 10:07
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The issue of the reason for dogs leaning on owners is quite conflicting. As you said, some people believe that it is a sign of dominance but from personal experience and some research, I believe your dog will lean on you for affection, to get your attention .

My dog leans on me mostly when he wants something. Like, to play fetch, remind me it is time for me to feed him, etc. This absolutely is not dominance, he is just trying to get my attention.

But not a single person brought up the fact that many dogs will lean on their owners for security. They will lean on their owners because they are shy, fearful or insecure. They are not trying to dominate their owners. They are trying to feel safe.

Nine times out of 10, when dogs lean on us they really are just seeking attention.

(1)

Shy dogs might lean on their owners for security.

The best way to react to this is not to pet the dog because this will not build his confidence rather it will make him more timid and shy.

It’s easy to nurture a small dog’s fear by carrying him around and telling him “It’s OK. It’s OK, baby.” But this will not help the dog build any confidence.

Instead, the owner should place the dog on the ground and slowly help him understand that nothing bad happens in new situations. The owner should ignore the dog or move away when he frantically paws at her legs to get back up. She should give him a treat or pick him up only when he is calm or if the situation is truly unsafe for the little guy.

(1)

I'll say is not bad for your dog to lean on you as long as you understand your dog so as to take the appropriate actions. When your dog is leaning for affection, It is best to pet him and show the affection he wants but when your dog is leaning for security or because he is scared, It is better to help him build up his confidence.

References

  1. Why does my dog lean on me?

  2. The daily wag

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  • I don't think this is the whole story. The body language of the dog is very important here, they communicate with their bodies quite a bit.
    – Joanne C
    Nov 14 '13 at 14:44
  • @JohnCavan Please I don't understand. Are you saying my answer doesn't answer the question?
    – user34
    Nov 14 '13 at 14:49
  • 3
    I'm suggesting that it's a partial answer. It's one possibility, but some casual reading on canine behaviour indicates to me that there is other answers based on how the dog is carrying itself.
    – Joanne C
    Nov 14 '13 at 15:01
  • 1
    I have also had a guard dog. And he would lean against me and try to put himself between me and anyone he did not know. It was not an aggressive thing but more of a "this is my job let me do it". When I would tell him it was ok or to stop he would. I think this is true of herding dogs as well. I know my border collie would use leaning to herd. Its not a dominance thing, but rather it is their job and the instincts are built in.
    – user9
    Nov 14 '13 at 15:05
  • My dog is a pit bull and she even sits on our feet when she leans against us... I don't want to allow her a "bad behavior" Nov 20 '13 at 21:37
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Personally I think dogs can detect when people are sad or down in the dumps, I've had a number of different owner's dogs walk up beside me and lean. Some I never met prior. Once at a party with a number of people wondering about, out of nowhere, dog walks up beside me, sits, leans and the dog's owner told me later he never did it prior.

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I believe it is a sign of affection and they lean because they like who they lean on. I have two dogs and they often will come to me and lean together to get petted or a back scratch. One thing that makes dogs really feel good is to rub their backs from the back of the head to the tail, something like a massage. It makes them feel good and seems to relieve stress that builds up from their ability to hear and feel things going on around the area that we can't seem to hear or feel.

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