Why Does My Rottweiler Stand Between My Legs: A Strange Canine Behavior
Out of nearly 200 registered purebred breeds, the Rottweiler is the AKC’s eighth most popular breed. So clearly, people are choosing the Rottweiler as their companion canine for a reason.
The Rottweiler is a very distinctive and powerfully-built dog breed. This is a big part of Rottweiler’s appeal, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
These dogs are born to be protection and guard dogs. Many military, police, and private security entities choose Rottweilers as part of their canine corps. Families are also favoring the Rottweiler for personal protection needs.
Suffice it to say, no one who chooses a Rottweiler for protection expects to see their big, strong dog standing between their legs! Why would your Rottweiler stand between your legs? Let’s discover the answer here.
Why Does My Rottweiler Stand Between My Legs?
There are two ways to answer why your Rottweiler stands between your legs. The difference is found in training.
A Rottweiler that stands between your legs without being trained is demonstrating submissive or anxious behavior – in other words; your Rottie stands between your legs because they are seeking protection or comfort from you.
Contrast this with a Rottweiler trained to stand between your legs as a learned skill (see the next section for more on this). In this case, your Rottie is standing between your legs on cue because this is what the situation requires.
Learn About Teaching a Rottweiler to Stand Between Your Legs
This YouTube video gives a quick and helpful overview of how to teach your Rottweiler to stand between your legs on command.
You will notice how the professional dog trainer uses treats and positive verbal cues to teach the dog exactly what to do.
Understanding Why Your Rottweiler Might Feel Submissive or Anxious?
Rottweilers might be protection dogs through and through, but no dog becomes a K-9 professional or a calm and centered adult protection dog through sheer genetics.
Here are some common reasons why a Rottweiler might start to feel submissive or anxious and run between your legs.
Lack of training
When a Rottweiler is a puppy, they are experiencing the world just like any other breed of dog. There is a lot that can be scary!
A lot of training is involved to teach these dogs to tune out strong instinctual reactions to noise, movement, strange animals or people, inclement weather, and other experiences.
Rottweilers are also known to be very people-centric dogs, which means they don’t tend to tolerate being left alone very well, as Coalfire Rottweilers breeder points out.
Separation anxiety can be a big problem for any people-centric dog breed and particularly any breed that has been specifically developed to guard, herd, and protect.
Rottweilers got their breed and started herding and guarding livestock and people. They are not going to be happy even if they have another dog for a companion. If you are not there, your Rottweiler may become anxious enough to act in destructive ways.
Past trauma or abuse
Adopting a rescued Rottweiler that has been relinquished or re-homed in the past is a wonderful act of love.
It is important to find out as much as you can about your rescued Rottie’s past history so you have a better idea of any areas where your new dog may feel abandoned or traumatized.
A Rottweiler that had been harshly disciplined or punished may stand between your legs to show submissiveness and avoid punishment.
Uncertainty about their place
Another possible reason why a Rottweiler might stand between your legs is if you are still developing your bond and your dog is not sure about its place in your “pack” or household.
Your dog may not be comfortable yet being petted or touched or may not be sure how to greet you, as Vetstreet explains.
In this case, walking in between your legs and standing there may feel like a safer and more neutral option to be close to you.
You have reinforced this behavior
As Slate illustrates in their pet advice column, your Rottweiler’s reasoning for standing between your legs may be as simple as your dog thinks you like it.
In the case of a rescued Rottie that does this, it may be that a past owner either taught the dog to do this or unconsciously reinforced this type of behavior by giving the dog attention.
For example, if you remark upon your Rottweiler’s behavior every time your dog goes to stand under your legs, or if you laugh, give pats, offer treats or even get mad, this is all a form of attention.
Your Rottweiler may interpret this as positive and do more of this type of behavior to encourage you to give more of your attention.
Your Rottweiler is scared
Science Alert highlights research that links how dogs behave with their people with how toddlers behave with their parents.
Just as a toddler that gets scared may seek shelter in between or behind their parents’ legs, so have dogs been observed to do the same with their people.
Dogs and people have lived in partnership for so many centuries that it appears their cognition has been re-wired to look to people for help when they feel threatened or do not know what to do or how to act.
While this may not seem like it should apply to the protection and guarding of dogs like the Rottweiler, this same basic rewiring applies to all dog breeds equally.
The Purpose of Training a Rottweiler to Stand Between Your Legs
Training your Rottweiler to stand between your legs or to move with you between your legs as you move is part of what professional K-9 trainers call “tactical obedience.”
Tarheel Canine Training explains that standing in between the owner’s legs is called a “tactical heel” and has some very practical advantages, including helping your dog to stay focused on you.
The goal of training this behavior is to transition from visual or verbal communication to tactile or touch-based communication. There can be several advantages to this, including when silence is of vital importance.
For starters, having your dog stand between your legs frees you up to keep your eyes on your surroundings rather than on your dog.
You also make sure that you know exactly where your dog is and thus avoid accidentally tripping each other up while working together.
And by teaching your dog to stay between your legs, you make sure your canine companion stays out of harm’s way, such as if you are hunting or tracking together.
Practical Applications for Training Your Rottweiler to Stand in the Middle
Outside the realm of tactical canine training, this position between your legs (sometimes called “middle”) can really come in handy for many ordinary daily life situations as well.
The most important might be of setting up a safety perimeter or boundary between you and your dog and the surrounding world. You know exactly where your Rottweiler is, and your dog is close to you and thus feels secure.
You have much better control over your Rottie if a strange person or animal approaches. For dogs that are not yet well-socialized or have been traumatized, this is for everybody’s safety.
You can easily reach your Rottweiler to offer pats, treats, toys, and reassurance, and your dog feels like they are doing a good job of protecting and herding you.
Why It Is a Safety Must to Address Rottweiler Standing Between Your Legs
Keep in mind it is quite a different experience to train your Rottweiler to stand between your legs than it is to have your dog run between or behind your legs spontaneously.
The former is a strategic choice to gain a tactical advantage against future unknowns. The latter is the result of a lack of training and a dog that is not sure how to respond to life.
With a strong, powerful dog breed like the Rottweiler, you never want to leave the future to chance.
The first time you experience your Rottweiler running to stand between your legs is the right moment to start tactical training.
If your Rottie is standing between your legs, you want it to be because you gave a command for your dog to stand there and not because you have a fearful, anxious, or uncertain dog on your hands.
Training a Rottweiler to be a professional protection K-9 is far beyond the scope of traditional “pet dog” obedience training. The best approach is for you and your dog to work together with a professional K-9 trainer.
The payoff of going through such tactical training together is that you will have confident protection and guarding dog that looks to you for every decision rather than reacting in fear.