Are Labs Lap Dogs? Why Big Dogs Think They’re Small

Do you often find your big and heavy labrador retriever sitting in your lap, and while it’s getting harder to breathe, you think to yourself, why does he think he’s small? Lots of reasons for that one, and I am here to tell you exactly why! 

So, Are Labs lap dogs? Labrador Retrievers are lap dogs even though they are six times our laps’ size;  their huge size will never stop them from crawling and hogging our laps and cuddling up with their endearingly adorable faces instead of just taking a seat beside us.

Keep on reading to find out the reasons why your labrador is often sitting in your lap and whether you should encourage or discourage this behavior.

Are labradors Lap Dogs? 

are labs lap dogs featured

Well, think of it that way.. Why wouldn’t they be? The fact that they would never fit into our laps will not stop them from taking a seat with no invitation whatsoever; At the end of the day, just enjoy the free, heartwarming cuddle session.

At the end of the day, that’s just what dogs do. If size bothers you, you might be better with small dogs. You can choose one of these teacup dogs with blue eyes that also make for perfect family dogs.

Why does my Labrador sit on my lap? 

Reasons may vary, here’s why your lap often sits on your lap:

It is rubbing off its scent

We all know how affectionate and attached labs may be, so sitting in your lap may be your dog’s attempt to spread its scent on you and claim you as his.

This can happen if you have recently been in contact with other dogs that your lab is picking up their scent off you.

Seeking attention

Like babies, lap hogging may sometimes mean a call for attention and care; all you can do is pet your dog and enjoy its company – even if it’s becoming harder to breathe.

Natural behavior of the breed

What can we say? Labradors like physical contact. As a naturally affectionate breed that constantly expresses its love for its owners, you may find your lab always beside you – or just straight out on top. 

Playing around

Labs just want to have fun! This breed has some silly actions up to their sleeves; lap sitting is no exception – after hogging your lap, rolling around, and playful, amusing sounds may follow. 

This is just them telling you it’s a good time for some light wrestling and tumbling.

A cuddle call

We all know that if labs could scream out, “CUDDLE ME!” they would 24/7. Moving over to sit on your lap may be them just drawing your attention to cuddle them – and frankly speaking, who would resist that?

“Hey, You’re in my place.”

Just like dogs get attached to people, toys, activities, they also love claiming a particular place as theirs; your labrador might sit on your lap as a way of saying, “If you wouldn’t move over, then I’ll just sit on top.”

You can address that by teaching them to take a seat anywhere else and not just be tied to this place in particular, as it may become hard to handle as time passes.

Another reason that you should look a bit closer into is:

Showing Dominance

Dogs are tribal creatures that abide by the existence of an Alpha, and sometimes they tend to claim that role as theirs.

This is typical behavior with owners with more than one dog; maybe your lab asserts dominance on his brothers/sisters and shows them who has the upper hand.

Watch out, as your lab may be trying to assert dominance on you – if sitting on your lap is accompanied by other actions that may be a bit aggressive, this should be concerning. 

Consult your vet or your dog’s trainer to ensure this isn’t a rebelling behavior that can turn into a more severe matter over time.

Is it wrong for a Labrador to sit on your lap? 

At most times, no, it is not wrong for a Labrador to sit on your lap, but there are exceptions, of course. If you find your Lab exhibiting some actions that may be concerning, like aggressive movements or even growling, then this matter needs attention. And you should try to alter this behavior with training – our preferred method is always positive reinforcement.

Should you stop your Labrador from sitting on your lap? 

If it turns out that your lab is doing so for the wrong, not so loving reasons, then yes, you definitely should discourage this behavior and stop him from doing it.

How to Teach Your Labrador to stop sitting on your lap? 

There are various training methods to stop labrador retrievers from sitting on your lap; the most popular two are Alpha Training and Positive Reinforcement (which we prefer).

It is always wise to use incentives and encourage things like toys, treats, or even belly rubs to make your dog do whatever it is that you want or stop any action you don’t prefer.

The reason behind encouraging positive reinforcement over alpha training is because you should be training your dog to be on its best behavior as your companion, not a property or an inferior that you must show who’s boss.

Related Questions 

Are labs cuddly dogs? 

Labrador Retrievers might be the most cuddly breed there is! Labs are affectionate dogs that just can’t get enough physical contact and hugging; that is why you will often find them suitable by your side, ready to cuddle whenever you are.

Do labs like sleeping with their owners? 

Labs really do love sleeping with their owners – sleeping is an encounter that builds bonds between dogs and their owners; it is also soothing and profoundly comforting to both humans and labrador retrievers. 

Are labs the friendliest dogs? 

Labrador Retrievers are one of the friendliest breeds that exist, and not only that, but they are great living companions who will always stay loyal to their owners. They also have lots of wisdom in them, so they are trainable and easy to handle.


Your labrador retriever sitting on your lap is a behavior that is normal and common with all dogs, especially this breed. 

Reasons may vary, some that you should encourage and some that you should try to alter with training – but most of the time, actions displayed by dogs are always coming from love and affection.

Helpful Resources

The Everything Labrador Retriever Book: A Complete Guide to Raising, Training, and Caring for Your Lab
by Kim Campbell Thornton
(A Great read for any Labrador owner, and you can check it on amazon here)

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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