Why Does My Dog Lay Down When I Approach Him? (Explained!)

Why is it that your dog lays down when you approach it?

It could be challenging to communicate with a dog because they tend to communicate in various ways, which can sometimes be confusing.

However, the most common way dogs communicate has always been their body language.

Why does my dog lay down when I approach him

Facial expressions, pity eye contact, tail wagging, and laying on their side/back are examples of body language used in communicating their feelings.

This article focuses on learning why they lay on their backs/sides when you approach them.

Dogs often assume this posture for various reasons, and some sleep this way.

However, you have to try and understand the reason why they do.

Reasons Why Your Dog Lays On Its Back/Side When You Approach Him

These reasons are: they want your attention, they need you to scratch an itch, an act of submissiveness, they want to play, show you they trust you, and lure you in, obsessive behavior.

1. Your Dog Lays Down When You Approach It Because It Wants Your Attention

Dogs are creatures that behave like humans.

That is why they are man’s greatest friend; the behavioral similarities are over the roof.

When we are close to people we love, we always do things to get their attention.

Kids would sometimes jump up for you to carry them, while adults would stretch their arms out for a hug.

This same behavioral want can be found in dogs.

To express their need for your attention, they use body language and perfect timing (when you are approaching).

They mostly lay on their backs when you approach them, telling you they need your attention.

2. It Needs You To Scratch An Itch

Even humans – superior creatures to dogs, cannot get our hands on every part of our body.

This same situation applies to our favorite pets.

Dogs sometimes lay on their back when you approach them for you to help them scratch an itch on their belly.

It is almost impossible for them to do that themselves.

Moreover, their instinctive nature is to protect their vital organs (belly) at all times – this means they can’t allow just anyone to scratch the itch.

They always do that to someone they trust will scratch the itch and not hurt them.

However, in some cases, your dog might be trying to show you a wound it has sustained.

It is just like them telling you, “Hey! I am injured. Can you get me checked out?”

3. Your Dog Lays Down When You Approach It as a Form of Trust

As mentioned in reason #2, it is instinctive for dogs to protect their belly.

As humans, when someone throws something harmful at us or something is about to fall on us, we instinctively protect our heads.

This also applies to dogs.

Because ost of their essential organs is in their belly, they are always instinctive to protect that area when they feel threatened.

When your dog lays on its back when you approach it, it trusts you.

It lets its guard down because it trusts you will not harm it.

Moreover, even when something or someone else is trying to harm it, it trusts you will protect it.

4. Your Dog Lays Down When You Approach It as an Act of Submission

In every family, there is always a hierarchy.

There is always that one person whose authority is never challenged.

In most situations, this person is the father.

Most kids will tell you they prefer their mum because they are scared of their dads.

Dogs, as well as humans, have that sense of hierarchy within them.

Research has shown that dogs are always closer to the person who gives them food.

If you have a dog and maybe your son gives it food, expect that your dog will like your son over you.

Your son will be the dog’s playmate, and your dog will choose him to give the belly rubs.

Your dog also recognizes you as the main provider that’s why it will sometimes lay on its back when you approach it.

Lying on its back does not necessarily mean it wants you to rub in its belly, especially when that relationship does not exist between you.

It lying on its back/side shows that it is submissive to your authority.

It does not feel threatened by you even when it is not entirely comfortable around you.

Situations like this are pretty easy to notice.

When it lays on its back/side, take note of when your dog licks its lips or places its tail between its legs. – this is a submission sign.

Do not rub its belly when it is in a threatened position because it could get frightened and attack.

My dog lies down when I approach him

5. Your Dog Lays Down When You Approach Because They Want To Play

The most important reason dogs lay on their backs/sides when you approach them is that they want to play.

Dogs enjoy it when your hands move smoothly along their fur, which gives them chills.

They sometimes do this when you are already playing with them to give you access to their belly.

Mostly, what dogs like during play is the belly rubs because they enjoy receiving this as it helps them relax their nerve.

If there is a play relationship between you both, then you should oblige to its request.

Giving them belly rubs will strengthen the bond between you both.

They tend to be more comfortable around you.

6. Your Dog Lays Down When You Approach To Lure You In

Dogs rarely do this to humans, but there has been a couple of cases.

Dogs are said to know when someone likes them or hates them.

If you do not have a playful relationship with your dog, avoid approaching it when lying on its back/side.

It might be trying to lure you in, so it can hurt you.

If you own an aggressive dog or an always anxious one, then you should be careful.

It might just bite or scratch you.

7. Obsessive Behavior

It is also a rare behavior, but it happens.

Some dogs get obsessed with laying on their backs or side unnecessarily.

If you notice it has become excessive, you should contact a behaviorist to find out how to stop it.

8. Your Dog Lays Down When You Approach Because It Is Sick

Most seasoned dog owners always know the behavioral pattern of their dogs.

But as a novice, you must study your dog, read and understand its body language.

Dogs always have a pattern of how they do things. and this pattern rarely changes, except for a few reasons.

They only change their pattern when they get scolded, or they are sick.

Most dogs, even when injured, do not change their pattern of behavior.

When you approach your dog, and it never lay on its back/side before, and it suddenly does that, something is wrong.

Try to understand the energy you are getting from the dog.

An energetic dog that immediately lays on its back when you approach it shows it is sick.

Laying on its side shows it does not have the energy to stand for long.

When you notice such, you should immediately call a vet and get the dog checked up.

That dog might be sick or very stressed out.

9. It Was Trained To Do So

Like all good dogs trained to do things over and over again, your dog might be lying down because you trained it intentionally or unintentionally.

Intentional training is through the use of rewards where you give your dog a command, and after it successfully follows you, it gets a treat.

And because it likes what is happening every time you approach it, and learns that it receives a treat every time, then your dog will just keep doing it again and again.

You can also unintentionally train your dog by giving it a treat every time you approach it because you’re simply happy about seeing your dog perhaps from work.

So every time you go home, your dog will expect to receive something from you and lays down to show you that it’s ready to receive its reward.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Rolling Its Back When You Approach Him

There is no need to panic when this happens.

Although, there are rare situations that call for professional attention.

How To Stop Your Dog From Lying Down When You Approach Him

There’s really no reason why you’d want to stop your dog from lying down every time you approach it.

But if you really want to do it, just stop reinforcing the habit by giving your dog treats every time you approach it.


As a dog owner, try as much as possible to read about dog behavior and gestures.

Understanding these gestures and behavior helps you identify their needs and how to satisfy them.

You should call in a professional in a rare situation where your dog is trying to challenge your authority—bathe your dog regularly to prevent skin irritations.

These irritations lead to aggressive scratching, and this can cause wounds.

Create a safe space for your dog around you. Let the dog feel comfortable.