For as long as viral videos have been around, humans have been laughing at pictures and videos of dogs that sit with their legs out in front of them like humans. Though most dogs seem comfortable in this position, it just doesn’t look quite right on a dog. Especially those who sit lounging in recliners, facing the television! You may know or have a dog that exhibits this strange behavior. If so, you’ve probably wondered why your dog feels compelled to sit this way. There could be a few different reasons for this behavior, depending on the circumstance surrounding your dog’s behavior. If you’d like to know what’s going on with your furry human, here are some reasons that your dog might be sitting like you!
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The Root of the Behavior
As with most behavioral quirks that only occur in a limited population of dogs across the dog kingdom, sitting like humans has a lot to do with breed variety. Some dogs have grown to develop an anatomical preference for sitting in different positions, especially those with long hind legs and top-heavy bodies. Great Danes are great candidates for adopting this posture, although several other types of small dogs have been caught in the pose. There doesn’t seem to be a set time at which the behavior develops in dogs. It may be that dogs learn it from watching their human counterparts—it certainly does in the photos of dogs sitting up at the couch and watching TV—but the behavior also seems to arise spontaneously after a dog is fully grown. Though the human-like posture doesn’t exactly look comfortable on a dog, it is believed that the position offers some relief to hip or back stress, typically by supporting the lumbar region and centering the weight of a dog’s chest over the rest of the body. It has been found to be slightly more common in dogs with hip problems such as hip dysplasia, a condition in which the hip bones do not sit properly in the hip sockets. For dogs with this condition, there are most likely several other signs of hip stress, including difficulty rising or lying down, and lazy or alternative sitting postures. If you notice your dog moving stiffly or having difficulty getting up and down, you might want to schedule a visit with your veterinarian and see if you can help manage your dog’s pain.
From a behavioral standpoint, some people believe that dogs adopt this sitting position to be higher up from the ground. Though not a sign in and of itself, a dog that wants to be at a higher vantage point may be showing signs of dominance and assertiveness. Watch to see if your dog is scanning the room while it sits up and try and watch for cues that indicate that your dog feels possessive or territorial over your house or space. If this is the case, you may need to reassert your dominance over your dog and your space, which you may decide to do with or without dog training.
Encouraging the Behavior
Most people laugh and enjoy when their dog mimics their behavior, especially in such a visible way like sitting upright. Still, you should check and make sure that your dog is okay, and make sure that there are no underlying health issues causing your dog to sit that way. If it appears that your dog simply prefers to sit that way, and there is no underlying issue, then feel free to take and post as many funny pictures as you’d like. If you feel that your dog is sitting upright as a sign of dominance, there are probably several other accompanying behaviors that you will want to address sooner rather than later. It is possible that your dog started displaying the behavior simply to mimic you, but for one reason or another, began to feel more territorial and assertive as time went on. There are many ways to reassert your dominance over your dog, and you may wish to send your dog to training school to assist in this process. It is always best for you to be the alpha dog in a relationship, and you may simply need to remind your dog that this is the case.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Some dogs sit like humans simply because every time they do, their owners laugh and show them extra love. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with celebrating your dog’s sitting posture, they may begin to prefer it to healthier postures simply to get a reaction out of you. Just like humans, dogs need to take care of their backs and maintain healthy postures for a life free of back-pain and stiffness. Encourage your dog to sit normally more often than not or turn human-sitting into a fun trick or game.
Everyone gets a kick out of seeing animals behave like humans and it brings to light some of our own quirks at times, like our tendency to sit in front of the television. Feel free to laugh at your dog and just make sure that they are not sitting strangely because of an injury or underlying illness.