How to Train Your Small Dog to Sit on Your Lap

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

Having a lap dog is only fun if you can actually train your dog to sit in your lap. Small dogs love being held and cuddled. However, they don't always know to jump in your lap, circle around to get comfortable, and lie down. Training your dog to sit in your lap can be a command you can teach your little guy to increase and improve the bond you two have together. Spending time with your small dog in your lap can improve your mood, calm your little guy down, and turn into an evening of cuddle fun. Training your little guy to greet you when you get home from a long day at work is one thing, but teaching him to cuddle and sit in your lap can turn your stressful day into a day filled with love and compassion. We own dogs for that unconditional love. Train your small dog to sit in your lap and give you just that. 

Defining Tasks

Before you begin to train your small dog to sit in your lap, be sure you have a safe way for him to get up into your lap. For instance, if you're sitting on a couch and you want your little dog to come to the couch to sit in your lap, be sure you are offering him a safe way to get up onto your couch. Training your small dog to sit in your lap will be a matter of conditioning him to recognize how to get in your lap, when it is okay to be on your lap, and how to settle down while he's on your lap, so he's not constantly licking your face or running around across the couch instead of settling down. You can teach puppies and older small dogs to do this. Just be sure to keep them safe if they are on furniture.

Getting Started

To prepare for training, put yourself in the same seat each time you ask your little dog to come sit in your lap. This could be a kitchen chair, an office chair, a couch, or even on the floor so your small dog does not have to do any acrobatics to get up to your lap. Be consistent with his training and offer lots of treats to your small dog, so he knows he's doing a job you expect him to do and doing it well.

The From the Floor Method

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Step
1
Treats
Be sure to have treats handy and close by but not where your small dog can get to them during training.
Step
2
Sit
Sit on the floor with your legs criss- crossed. It might be easier for your small dog if you lay a blanket across your lap. This will give him a soft place to sit without falling through to the floor.
Step
3
Call your dog
Call your small dog to you by using his name and patting the blanket in your lap.
Step
4
Lap
When your small dog comes to you, show him a treat and encourage him to sit down on your lap. If necessary for the first few times, you can place the treat in your lap for your dog to see. If he needs help climbing up to your lap this first time, you can place him there.
Step
5
Reward
As soon as your dog gets into your lap and sits, give him the treat.
Step
6
Repeat
Remove your dog from your lap and repeat this several times. Over time, you can give the action a command such as ‘lap,’ so your dog knows when you say the command, he is to climb in your lap and sit. Be sure to keep giving him rewards each time he sits in your lap. This is what will condition him to remember the task.
Recommend training method?

The With a Partner Method

Effective
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Step
1
Position
Have one person sit on the floor or in a safe place for your small dog to access and have the second person standing nearby with treats.
Step
2
Command
Place your small dog in the lap of the person sitting and give it a command such as ‘lap.’
Step
3
Treat
Walk a few steps away from the person in the seated position and the small dog sitting in their lap. Once you have separated from them, offer the dog a treat. This will force the dog to move off the lap and go to the person standing for the treat.
Step
4
Repeat
You may need to take your dog to the person sitting a few times before he begins to go on his own. Repeat taking him to this lap using the command word, take a few steps away, and then offer the dog a reward for sitting in the lap.
Step
5
Practice
Keep practicing with your small dog using the command to sit in your or your partner’s lap. This will take several times, but eventually, by repeating the command word and placing the dog in the lap, he will begin to understand the command means he should go sit in your lap. He will always expect a treat for this.
Step
6
Without a partner
Once your small dog understands the command and begins to go sit in you or your partner’s lap without setting him there, try to ask your dog to sit in your lap without the partner. Sit in the same place and say the command. Once he obeys, offer him a treat.
Step
7
More practice
Again, without a partner, place your dog on the floor and sit down. Use the command you’ve taught your small dog to ask him to come sit in your lap. If he obeys, be sure to give him a treat. If he doesn’t get it, repeat the steps above several more times until he is able to do this on his own without being placed in your lap.
Recommend training method?

The Treat Lure Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Sit
Place yourself in your favorite spot. Be sure, especially if you are sitting in furniture, your small dog can safely jump up to you or has pet stairs to access you.
Step
2
Treat
Hold a treat up over your lap and call your small dog. This should get his attention and lure him up to you.
Step
3
Sit
Once your little guy jumps into your lap, ask him to sit. When he is sitting, give him a treat.
Step
4
Practice
Keep practicing this so your dog knows to sit in your lap when you ask him to. If he jumps in your lap if you do not ask, be sure to reward him anyway.
Step
5
Repetitive training
The repetitive training of asking and rewarding will help his develop this new trick and improve your cuddle time together.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Hunter
Samoyed
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Hunter
Samoyed
3 Years

He keeps biting me

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
396 Dog owners recommended

Hello, When he bites, does he break the skin? If he is breaking the skin, then you need to hire a professional trainer who is very experienced dealing with aggression and has the proper resources, like another trainer to assist him if needed, to help you. Biting can happen for a number of reasons. It can be play mouthing- which is far less serious, is done in play and excitement and does not break the skin. It can be resource guarding or possessiveness around food, toys, or certain people. It can be dog-related aggression. It can be dominance/rudeness -typically a dog who simply thinks that he is in charge and has learned that he can get what he wants by using his mouth. It can be fear-biting. It can be due to injury, illness, or chemical imbalance. It can also be for another reason. A good trainer can assess why he is biting by asking a series of questions and having a safe consult with Hunter to evaluate him and decide on an approach to train him. Expect your dog to have to be restrained safely or muzzled for the consult until Hunter gets used to the trainer. If Hunter is not breaking the skin, is only biting during play and times of excitement, and seems to be having fun when he does it - and does not look stiff, tense, or proud, then he is probably mouthing, which is far less serious. To address mouthing, check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Leave It" method. You may also need to work on other training to improve Hunter's impulse control, obedience, and general calmness. A good obedience class, private lessons with a trainer, or following one of the methods from the second article that I have linked below can help with that part too. Mouthing biting: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Respect and listening: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Do not address the biting using the linked puppy biting article if it is not puppy mouthing but is dangerous biting - hard-aggression-related bites need to be taken much more seriously and addressed with a trainer present in a different way. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Cooper
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
7 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Cooper
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
7 Months

Hello : )
I wonder if you can give some advice. Cooper is our 2nd dog, our previous dog died 3 years ago, he was lovely, a big labradoodle who was super gentle and affectionate and loved cuddling up with the whole family. However due to his huge size he was a bit too big for comfortable lap cuddles! When he died we all decided to get a small dog who would be small enough for lap cuddles. We researched and found Cavaliers one of the best recommended affectionate lap dogs. We now have Cooper, a 7 month Cavalier King Charles who is very sweet and friendly. However he doesn’t seem to like cuddles very much and won’t stay on your lap for more than a minute or two before jumping off and laying on the floor or going off into the hallway to lay down by himself. He seems very happy and content generally, we have two children 13 and 11 who grew up with a dog and are very calm and gentle, our house is generally very peaceful. He loves his walks every day, eats well and seems very happy. I realise all dogs have different character traits and think maybe he’s just not a cuddler or lapdog. I just though I would get your opinion if there’s anything we can do as we did so want a cuddly lapdog!

Many thanks and any advice gratefully received!

Ben.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
396 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ben, There is a good chance that he is simply not an overly affectionate dog and that's just who he is. With that said, you can increase the odds of him learning to like touch a bit. Work on desensitizing him to being touched and held. Use his daily meal kibble. At as many meals as you can, practice gently touching him in an area while giving a treat. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Touch a tail and give a treat. Touch his belly and give a treat. Practice this with every area of his body. When he enjoys you doing this with him each time and acts confident about it, start adding gentle restraint. Gently hold him in place for a second with your hands then give a treat. Practice until he is relaxed and enjoys that. When he is alright with that, then also practice gentle lifting him up, placing him immediately back down and giving a treat (be sure to support him well when you do this. Finally, when he is fine with all other touch and restraint and can stay relaxed and happy, practice gently embracing him and offering a treat - only do this if he has never shown any form of aggression and has done well with touch and seems relaxed up to this point. Gradually work on increasing the amount of touch over a couple of months - the goal is not just to restrain him and force him to stay but to make each touch pleasant using food so there is a good association with touch. Without the food it can create a bad association. He may never be a dog who asks for cuddles but desensitizing him to touch can teach him to enjoy it more and be more tolerant when it's offered to him. Right now he is young, he also may grow to enjoy cuddling more as he ages and is more willing to lie still for longer. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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