Why Does My Dog Lay By The Door? Should I Be Concerned?

dog laying by the door looking for owner

There are several reasons a dog would lie by the door. This list of reasons includes separation anxiety (waiting for someone to get home), curiosity, comfort, mating instincts (male dogs can sense a female in heat), and protection of their family.

Lots of dogs love to hop up on our beds when it’s time to go to sleep. Sometimes they may take over the couch for another spot to lie down in the house. 

But you may have noticed that your dog likes to lie down by the door. This is not uncommon, and there are many potential reasons for this behavior. 

Your dog could be feeling defensive, lonely, or simply needs to go to the bathroom! 

Let’s explore some common reasons that would make your dog want to take a lie-down by your door.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety will often lie by the door when their owner leaves.

If your dog has separation anxiety, they feel like they always need to be with you. You will see signs of separation anxiety when you are home as well. 

See if your dog follows you when you move from one room to another and waits outside the bathroom door for you. 

If they do, they may have some form of separation anxiety. This is a psychological issue for your dog, but they can overcome it with proper training. 

However, if your dog is always at the door when you come home, it does not mean that they definitely have separation anxiety. 

Many dogs will simply wait for the sounds of their owner coming home and go to the door to greet them. 

Keep an eye out for the other signs of separation anxiety, such as following you around the house or crying when you leave.

Dominance in Their Domain

Another reason dogs lie by the door is because of dominance hierarchies. 

Your dog may be trying to establish itself higher on the totem pole. By laying in doorways or other walking areas, they could be trying to show their dominance. 

Your dog may think that blocking entryways is a way to show their power and influence because it makes others walk around them. Your dog has to “grant other permission” to go through the door, making them feel like they are in control. 

Make sure your dog knows you hold the power in your relationship. You can take your pup to training that reinforces the proper hierarchy of your home. 

If your dog views themselves are a higher member of the pack than you, it can lead to future problems, so you want to get this fixed as soon as possible.

Need for a Potty Break

Laying by the door could be a way for dogs to communicate that they need to go outside to do their business. It is also much less damaging than scratching the door to go out! 

Every dog has different needs when it comes to how often they need to go potty. If your dog recently changed foods or is drinking more water than usual, they may have to go out more than usual. 

Comfort

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the correct one. 

Your dog might lie by the door simply because they are the most comfortable in that location. 

If you live in a hot climate, your doorway could be a cooler area of the house. Maybe the carpet near the door is soft. Or you could have even inadvertently trained your dog to lie by the door by giving them treats or attention when they are in the entrance of your house. 

Some dogs may simply associate the door with being more comfortable, so it is naturally drawn to lie there.

When Did It Start?

If lying by the door is a recent change in behavior, consider if anything has changed in their life recently. 

Has someone moved out? Did your schedule change? Does your dog lay by the door only at certain times of the day? 

Figuring out the timeline of when your dog first started this behavior can help you pinpoint what is causing the behavior. 

Also, pay attention to what’s different when your dog is lying by the door. If they do not lie by the door when you have company or when a particular member of the house is not home, this may help inform you about why they picked up this habit. 

Door Training for Dogs

An aspect of dog training that many owners neglect is making sure that their dog is well-behaved around doors. 

Doors are how we go from room-to-room, and their significance in the minds of dogs creates interesting behavior. 

Guarding doors can become a bad habit for dogs. They will try to block anyone from walking through the door. 

This behavior is rooted in the need to protect the pack and raise the dog’s status. By challenging others, your dog may think they are establishing dominance. 

They may try to show dominance by walking through the door before anyone else. In a dog’s mind, the order in which a pack goes through the door is the hierarchy of the pack itself. 

The person or animal that enters first is at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the next person to go through the door, and the next, etc. 

Your dog could try to slip ahead of you to go through the door. If they try this, it could be a way for them to challenge your authority over them. 

While we may think it is harmless to let our dogs go inside before we do, it creates the idea in their mind that they do not have to listen to their owners. This can obviously lead to further problems if not addressed immediately. 

For the safety of both you and your dog, they need to understand how to follow commands. Fortunately, these bad door habits can be corrected with the proper training. 

The command “stay” and some treats can help redirect your dog away from the door. Telling your dog “heel” before you go through an entrance is an excellent way to make sure they are following you properly. 

If you are having trouble getting your dog to listen, your vet may recommend local trainers that could help with your dog’s behavior problems.

Some Dogs Have a Complicated Relationship With Doors

Your dog has a much more complicated relationship with your door than you may be aware of. If your dog has taken up lying at the door, they could be affected by separation anxiety, have to go to the bathroom, or there may be some other issue going on. 

Recent changes to schedule or personnel within a house can make your dog feel like they have to guard the door to keep everyone safe. 

If you don’t want your dog to lie by the door, make sure it is getting enough exercise and attention and set up a comfortable space for your dog elsewhere in the room. It may be by a window so that it can still monitor outside the house. 

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