If your German Shepherd keeps standing over you, this post will show you a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd stand over me? A common cause is that it is being dominating. However, other possible causes can include that you have inadvertently trained it to do it, it’s looking for attention or that it does it to feel more secure.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your GSD does it. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd stands over you
Each of the different reasons that your GSD does it will likely come with some clues.
Below, I will explain a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what would make them more likely.
It’s being dominant
The reason that it does it could be that it is being dominating. Dominant dogs would stand over less dominant dogs in the wild as a way of showing that they have control over them. This is not something that you want from your German Shepherd.
Standing over you in a dominant way would be a sign that it does not see you as its leader. It would be very important for you to take measures to correct this behavior by giving it lots of training and by preventing it from being able to be dominating. More will be discussed below on how to do this.
It would be more likely that it is being dominating if it tries to position itself to be higher than you, has other behavioral issues such as aggression, food aggression or if it is unwilling to listen to you.
It’s being protective
The reason that it does it might be that it is being protective. This would be more likely if it tends to do it when there are other people or animals around. Again, in this case, it would be important to prevent it from doing so and to train it not to.
You have inadvertently trained it to do it
It might be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to stand over you by giving it things that it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as treats, more attention or toys when it does it then it will have learned that standing over you will get it those things.
Instead of rewarding it, when it does it, try to reward it when it is well behaved and to prevent it from standing above you by noticing when it is about to do it and getting it to stand somewhere else.
It is looking for attention
The reason that it stands above 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, it licks you and gets in your face and you tend to give it more attention when it does it.
In this case, it would help to notice when it is about to do it, to redirect its focus onto something else such as laying somewhere else and to give it attention then so that you are not rewarding it for standing over you.
It wants to feel more secure
It might be the case that it is trying to feel more secure itself. This would be more likely if it does it in situations where it might feel insecure such as if there are fireworks.
In this case, it would help to try and recognize what is causing it to become afraid and to remove it from the environment or to reduce your GSD’s exposure to it.
Things to consider
When trying to figure out why your GSD does it, there are a number of things that you can consider. Below, I will show you a number of helpful things to consider.
When it first started doing it
It would help to consider when your GSD first started doing it since there might have been an event that triggered it to start doing it.
If your GSD started doing it suddenly then it would be more likely to be due to things such as:
- You inadvertently rewarded it for doing it one time
- It started being dominating since you stopped giving it training
- It started looking for attention when its routine changed
If it has been doing it since a young age then it could be that you rewarded it for doing it when it was young or that it has been doing it due to being dominating especially if you didn’t give it much training as a puppy.
If it stands over other people or dogs
It would also help to consider if it tends to stand over other people and dogs.
If it does then it would make it more likely that it does it because it is being dominating. Whereas, if it does not then it would be more likely that it is looking for attention from you or that you have inadvertently trained it to do it.
When it seems to do it more
The timing of when it seems to do it more would also be something to consider.
If it seems to do it more at certain times then it could be that something is making it feel insecure or it might be doing it to get you to get up and do something such as to walk it.
What to do about your German Shepherd standing over you
The best thing for you to do about your GSD standing over you will depend on the cause. However, there are a number of things that you can do that generally work well that I will mention below.
Give it lots of training
German Shepherds are working dogs and they were bred to work alongside their owners for hours on a daily basis. As a result, they will often look to their owners for direction. When their owners don’t give them much direction especially in the form of training it can cause behavioral issues.
If you have not given your German Shepherd much training then it would be important to do so by starting with the basics and then building up from there. I have written about how to train your GSD to stay here and how to lay down on command here.
Avoid allowing it to do so by noticing when it is about to stand over you
In order to get your GSD out of the habit of standing over you, it would help to redirect its behavior before it does it. By doing this you will be able to reward it for being well behaved and to avoid negatively reinforcing the behavior.
You can do so by rewarding it when you notice that it might do it and then by getting it to lay down or to sit somewhere else via training.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you don’t know why your GSD does it, you cannot get it to stop or it becomes aggressive then it would help to get the help of a certified dog behaviorist in your area. By doing so you will be able to get expert help tailored towards your particular GSD.
If you would like learn everything that you need to know about how to have a happy, healthy and well-behaved German Shepherd, take a look at the German Shepherd Handbook