A Rottweiler is a whole lot of dog to love. These dogs can grow to weigh as much as 135 pounds in adulthood. So when your Rottweiler decides to sit on you, you really notice!
The loving and affectionate Rottie, as dog lovers call this breed, is incredibly popular in the United States right now.
In fact, these dogs are the eighth most popular pet choice among purebred dog breeds in the country (out of nearly 200 other breeds).
What does this mean? It means that every night, Rottweiler owners across the nation sit down on their couch to relax after dinner, only to get nearly flattened into the cushions when their Rottweiler climbs up to sit on their lap.
This behavior is adorable in a furry Rottie puppy. But it can be extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous in a full-grown, full-size adult Rottweiler. In this article, we explain why Rottweilers do this and what you need to know to stop it.
The Rottweiler Dog Breed Is a “Leaning” Dog Breed
If you are brand new to owning a Rottweiler, you have a steep and wonderful learning curve yet ahead of you.
There is a lot that is unique about the Rottweiler dog breed. As the American Kennel Club (AKC) explains, one of the inside facts that only experienced Rottie owners know is that this breed is a “leaner.”
What does “leaner” mean? It means your Rottweiler will lean against you to show affection. Here again, this is adorable when it is a 30-pound fluff ball leaning against your leg.
It can be slightly less adorable when the whole 135-pound weight of your adult Rottie leans against you and threatens to send you vertically.
As this YouTube video from VetStreet points out, your dog doesn’t necessarily realize that you may have trouble coping with their weight when they lean. They just want to cuddle. When you are standing up, they still want to cuddle. So they lean on you.
Other forms of leaning can include standing on your feet, spooning you in bed, and, yes, sitting right on top of you.
Rottweilers Are a Herding Dog Breed
Did you know that the Rottweiler dog breed was originally developed and bred to herd and protect livestock? These dogs were called “drovers.”
Today, that droving or herding instinct is still strong inside your Rottweiler, even though in most cases they have never herded a single cow a day in their life.
Instead, they herd you. They will tirelessly herd and protect all members of their family whether you particularly want to or feel like being herded or not.
And sometimes you will get sat on. This will probably make your Rottweiler feel better, because if they are sitting on you then you are definitely safe. But it might not have quite the same impact on you.
In fact, another theory on how the “leaning” behavior evolved in some cattle dog breeds is that the dogs would sometimes have to lean their bodies against a cow to tell it which direction to move in.
Cattle are much heavier than dogs, so the leaning could accomplish something that might not be able to be done in any other way. Of course, this is just a theory. Yet the fact remains that Rottweilers love to lean on and sit on their people.
Rottweilers Can Be Vulnerable to Separation Anxiety
As an intensely social, loyal, protective, and sensitive dog breed, Rotties are known to develop separation anxiety more than some dog breeds do.
As one Rottweiler breeder points out, there are a number of different reasons why a Rottweiler may develop separation anxiety.
One of the most commonly reported reasons links being left alone to the onset of separation anxiety.
Rottweilers were not bred to be on their own for any length of time (not even five minutes). They were always doing their job, which means they were with both other animals (usual livestock) and people.
But a Rottweiler that is kept as a companion canine does not have any job to do. You, however, may have a job to do. That job may take you out of the home and away from your dog for hours on most days. You may also have to leave the house for other reasons.
This can cause your dog a lot of anxiety.
As another experienced Rottweiler breeder explains, Rottweilers are especially prone to separation anxiety for the same reason they are such loving, loyal dogs – they bond very closely with their humans.
Unfortunately, not all breeders prepare new owners well for the impact of the Rottie’s lineage and nature. As well, if you have rescued a Rottweiler puppy or adult dog, you may not realize until separation anxiety sets in that your dog is prone to this.
WebMD for Pets points out that separation anxiety may never be cured once it sets in. But the symptoms can be eased by up to 95 percent with proper training.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) outlines the main separation anxiety warning signs and symptoms to watch for in your Rottweiler:
- Inappropriate elimination.
- Destructive behavior like chewing, digging.
- Barking, howling, whining.
- Panting, wheezing.
- Shaking, trembling.
- Pacing, drooling.
- Coprophagia (eating poop).
- Attempts to escape.
When and How Do Rottweilers Develop Separation Anxiety?
Your Rottweiler may or may not ever develop a full-blown case of separation anxiety. But here are the times when it is more likely to occur so you can be aware.
Any change in routine
Whether it is a change in your routine or your dog’s routine or both, routine changes are not a favorite of this breed, which lives to herd and guard and watch out for dangers.
A move to a new home
A change in location, while perhaps not sudden to you, will always feel sudden to your dog. All the sights and sounds and scents are new and this can be very overwhelming to a sensitive breed like the Rottweiler.
If your Rottweiler was previously re-homed by another family, your dog may come to you with a lingering fear of it happening again.
Because these dogs develop such strong bonds with their people, they don’t heal from the loss quickly. Your Rottie may become deeply afraid that you will leave too.
A new addition to the family
Whether or not your Rottweiler has ever gone through relinquishment and rehoming in the past, whenever you add to your family, you may see your Rottie become more anxious.
This holds true whether the new addition is another pet or another person (of any age). Rottweilers may perceive the new addition as a threat to their place in your heart and respond with anxiety.
Of course, separation anxiety is just one reason why your Rottweiler may seem determined to sit on you. It is definitely going to be hard for you to leave with a 100+ pound dog sitting right on top of you!
Other Common Reasons Why Your Rottweiler May Decide to Sit On You
There are two other commonly reported reasons why Rottweilers sit on their people: they don’t feel well and they are bored.
Let’s look at each of them in this section.
Your Rottweiler doesn’t feel well
Some dog breeds may want to just be left alone when they don’t feel well. But in most cases, this does not include the Rottweiler breed.
A dog that isn’t feeling well will likely become clingy and anxious and may even want to sit on top of you.
One often overlooked cause of medical-induced anxiety is medication side effects. Medication can cause side effects ranging from upset stomach to mood changes.
It is smart to consider whether a medication your dog is taking, whether a routine drug or something to treat a specific condition, may be causing anxiety that leads to clingy behavior.
Your Rottweiler is bored
But perhaps the most common reason why Rottweilers like to sit on their people (aside from love and devotion) is boredom.
A bored dog is going to seek out your attention and – hopefully – a rousing game of tug-of-war or fetch or a nice walk or run.
Teach Your Rottie Not to Sit On You
The best way to teach your Rottweiler not to sit on you is to make sure you do not reinforce the behavior.
Choose a single command that you can train your dog to associate with this undesirable behavior. If your dog also jumps, you can choose “down.”
Then use positive reinforcement (clicker training, treats, praise, pats, play) to teach your dog that sitting on people is not permitted.
Be aware that Rottweilers are slow to mature and you may have a long road ahead of you to train a puppy not to jump up or sit on you!