This post will show you why your German Shepherd leans on you and what you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd lean on me? Possible causes are that it is being protective, dominating, it is scared, it finds it comforting, it wants attention or that it is spreading its scent.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why it is leaning on you. There are also a number of things that you can do to get it to stop.
Why your German Shepherd leans on you
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd leans on you will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will mention a number of possible reasons why your German Shepherd leans on you and the signs to look for.
It is being protective
German Shepherds are naturally protective of their owners and they are commonly used as guard dogs for that reason. Your German Shepherd might tend to lean on you because it is being protective.
This would be more likely if it also tends to follow you around and it does it when you are outside.
One way that dogs would assert their dominance over each other in the wild would be to mount other dogs in the pack. If your German Shepherd is trying to assert its dominance over you then it might be doing this by leaning on you and positioning itself to be in higher positions than you.
This is something that you’ll need to prevent from happening so that your German Shepherd continues to see you as its leader. This will help to make it easier to control.
German Shepherds were bred to work alongside their owners and in packs. With that being the case, it could be that your German Shepherd is doing it because leaning on you makes it feel like it is safer since it is in a group.
This would be more likely if it does it more outside and not as much when you are at home.
Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you
The reason why it leans on you could be that it has some separation anxiety. This is where your German Shepherd does not like being left alone and it gets anxious when it is alone.
This would be more likely to be the reason if your German Shepherd tends to get very anxious when you are going out. Signs of it being anxious could include pacing, crying or being destructive when you are gone.
If your German Shepherd does seem to have some separation anxiety then you can watch the video below to see a number of tips on what you can do about it.
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd so anxious?
It wants attention
The reason why your German Shepherd leans on you could be that it is looking for attention.
This would be more likely if it does it when you have not been giving it much attention for a while. It would also be more likely if it leans on you at around the same time that you tend to do things such as to take it for a walk or to feed it.
To spread its scent
It might be that your German Shepherd is trying to spread its scent onto you so that other dogs can smell it. This is its way of saying that you belong to it so that other dogs will steer clear of you.
To prevent this you’ll need to spend time training it not to lean on you by ignoring it, getting it off you and rewarding it when it doesn’t lean on you.
Things to consider
Before training your German Shepherd not to lean on you it would help to have a good idea of what is causing it to do it.
When it started leaning on you
When trying to understand why it leans on you it would help to consider when it first started doing it.
If it didn’t always lean on you and it started doing it suddenly it would help to consider what else happened at around the time that it started leaning on you.
Some things to consider would be:
- If you moved home
- If someone else moved away
- If its schedule changed
- If you started working different hours
When and where it leans on you
It would also help to consider the timing of when it leans on you.
If it only seems to lean on you in certain situations and at certain times then it could be that there is an external cause for it.
Some things to consider would be if it only leans on you when you would normally feed it or if it only leans on you when you have not given it much attention.
How to get your German Shepherd to stop leaning on you
Below, I will mention a number of options that you have when trying to get your German Shepherd not to lean on you.
You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips about how you can train your GSD.
If your German Shepherd leans on you because it is looking for attention then the best way to get it to stop is to leave and completely ignore it.
This means that you should get it off you, wait for it to calm down, tell it to sit somewhere else, reward it for behaving and not leaning on you, then carry on with what you were doing. If it tries to lean on you again then repeat the process. You can then give it attention when it is being well behaved.
Avoid reinforcing the behavior
If your method of getting it to stop leaning on you is to give it things it wants, it could be the case that it has learned to do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead of giving it things that it wants you could try training it to sit or lay down somewhere else and then to reward it for that instead.
I have written about how you can teach your German Shepherd “down” in the past here.
Give it attention
One way to get your German Shepherd to stop seeking attention from you is to give it attention when it’s not leaning on you. By doing this it will not need to do things like lean on you to get your attention since it will be getting enough of it anyway.
You can give it more attention by walking it more, playing fetch with it or playing games such as tug of war with it.
Train it not to
You can also train your German Shepherd not to lean on you by teaching it to sit somewhere else. You can do this by teaching it to sit or to lay down somewhere and then by gradually teaching it to stay there over longer and longer time periods.
You can do this by applying the same techniques as in the video below:
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Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.