Doggie body language is often a head-scratcher. When your dog stands over you, it can be difficult to figure out what he wants, whether it's to get a view out the window or to be around you. In many cases, a canine standing over a person points to one thing -- dominance.
Dominance Over Humans
If your pooch has an inclination to stand up on your lap when you're sitting down, he may be displaying classic dominant patterns. By standing over you, your dog is "higher" up than you -- if only for a brief time. Your pooch doesn't think that you're in charge -- he thinks that he's the boss. If your dog's head is much higher up in the air than yours is, the arrows may just be pointing to "dominant."
Dominance Over Other Dogs
Dogs do not restrict "standing over" behavior to their interactions with humans. If a dog feels more powerful than another canine, he also may attempt to stand directly over him. In doing this, the canine is communicating the other doggie's significantly lower social status -- yikes. Also look out for other clues of superiority. Dogs often place single paws onto the shoulders of those that they sense are lower -- and weaker -- then them. Fixed staring and tense posture also often signify doggie dominance declarations.
If your pooch displays dominance aggression patterns in his behavior, whether through refusing to listen to your commands or growling at you any time you approach his prized toys, then his actions may be triggered by the things that you do first. If you, as an owner, stand over your dog instead of the other way around, he may interpret your behavior as being out of line -- after all, he views you as his subordinate. By doing this, it may incite your pet to engage in other displays of dominance. If your dog has a problem with dominance aggression, consider speaking to a veterinarian to get recommendations for qualified pet behaviorists in your area. It can sometimes be hazardous to deal closely with dogs who have dominance aggression, so be careful and enlist the assistance of an expert who has plenty of experience with this type of problem.
Other Signs to Notice
The better you can identify the signs of doggie dominance, the easier it can be for you to determine whether your pet's "standing over" issue is indeed a sign of it. Other common indications of a dominant dog are hiding possessions from you, obstructing you as you move around, leg humping, physical aggression, excessive barking for food and always trying to be in front of you.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.