Why does my dog stand over other dogs?

If you have ever witnessed your dog standing over other dogs, you may have wondered what this behavior means. Dogs stand over other dogs for a variety of reasons, including dominance, protection, and communication. Understanding the underlying motivations behind this behavior can help you better interpret your dog’s actions and maintain a harmonious relationship with other dogs.


One possible reason why dogs stand over other dogs is to assert dominance. By physically positioning themselves above another dog, they are sending a clear message that they are in charge. This behavior is often seen in multi-dog households or during interactions with unfamiliar dogs. It is a way for dogs to establish hierarchies and maintain order within their social group.

Signs of dominance-related standing over behavior may include:

  • Rigid body posture
  • Tail held high and stiff
  • Direct eye contact
  • Growling or snarling


In some cases, dogs may stand over other dogs as a protective measure. This behavior is commonly observed when a dog feels threatened or senses potential danger nearby. By positioning themselves above another dog, they are attempting to shield their companion and deter any potential threats. This protective stance can be seen as a natural instinct and a display of loyalty.

Indications of protective standing over behavior may include:

  • Puffed-up fur or raised hackles
  • Growling or barking
  • Blocking access to the other dog
  • Alert and focused expression


Another reason why dogs stand over other dogs is to communicate their intentions or desires. By assuming a dominant position, they are conveying a message about their intentions, such as initiating play, seeking attention, or requesting submission. This form of nonverbal communication is an integral part of a dog’s social repertoire and helps them navigate interactions with other dogs.

Examples of communication-related standing over behavior may include:

  • Soft body posture
  • Wagging tail
  • Play bows
  • Licking or nuzzling

Age and Gender Differences

It’s important to consider age and gender differences when analyzing why a dog stands over another dog. Puppies may engage in standing over behavior as part of their exploration and learning process. It is their way of testing boundaries and understanding social dynamics. Additionally, males may exhibit more dominant standing over behavior than females, as it aligns with their instinctual drive for hierarchy and territorial control.

Context and Environment

The context and environment in which dogs interact can significantly influence their standing over behavior. Factors such as the presence of resources (food, toys, etc.), unfamiliar surroundings, or previous negative experiences may contribute to a dog’s inclination to stand over others. It is crucial to assess the overall situation and consider these external factors when interpreting your dog’s behavior.

When to Seek Professional Advice

While occasional standing over behavior is generally normal, excessive or aggressive displays should be addressed to ensure the safety and well-being of all dogs involved. If you are concerned about your dog’s behavior or if it is causing distress or conflict, it is recommended to seek guidance from a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. They can assess the situation, provide valuable insights, and offer appropriate training techniques to promote positive interactions.

Closing Thoughts

Understanding why your dog stands over other dogs can shed light on their intentions and emotions. Whether it stems from dominance, protection, or communication, it is essential to approach the behavior with patience, observation, and a willingness to intervene if necessary. By being aware of the underlying motivations, you can foster positive interactions between your dog and others, ensuring a happy and harmonious social life for all.