Walking is a hard (and funny) task.
Especially when your German Shepherd goes in between your legs.
It’s a safety hazard.
Because you may trip and fall on your face one day.
Not to mention that it’s uncomfortable, too!
Why does your dog do this?
In this article, you’ll find out:
- The benefits of your dog doing ‘middle’.
- 3 tips to stop your GSD puppy from doing this behavior.
- 13 reasons why your German Shepherd goes between your legs.
- And much much more…
Table of contents
- Why does my German Shepherd go between my legs?
- What does it mean when a German Shepherd goes between your legs?
- 13 reasons why your German Shepherd goes between your legs
- #1: They heel as a tactic defense
- #2: They’re being protective
- #3: Seeking comfort
- #4: It’s their way to greet you
- #5: They lack confidence
- #6: You reinforce it
- #7: They have separation anxiety
- #8: They have a phobia
- #9: They’re claiming you
- #10: Your dog is overwhelmed
- #11: They’re trained to do this
- #12: It’s their way of showing love
- #13: They want rear-end scratches
- How do I stop my German Shepherd (puppy) from walking between my legs? 3 tips
Why does my German Shepherd go between my legs?
Your German Shepherd goes between your legs because it’s a safety defense, being protective, seeking comfort, greeting you, lacking confidence, reinforcement, having separation anxiety or phobia, claiming you, being overwhelmed, having training, showing affection, or wanting scratches.
What does it mean when a German Shepherd goes between your legs?
A German Shepherd going between your legs means that they’re feeling anxious or scared because of potential threats like bigger or more overwhelming dogs. They could also be doing this because their previous owners trained them to heel when there’s danger nearby.
13 reasons why your German Shepherd goes between your legs
#1: They heel as a tactic defense
German Shepherds are working dogs who are often used in police and the military. That’s why your guard dog may go in between your legs often as a form of defense.
The German Shepherd dog breed is brave and smart.
So people train them with different commands that can be used when in combat or raids.
One of the things they’re taught is ‘between the legs contact heeling’. It’s where the body and movement of the handler and the German Shepherd become one.
Pretty cool, right? I mean, who would want to approach their team looking like that?
So what is this tactic exactly for?
This is used when approaching sensitive situations.
For example when there are dangerous and armed people who want to attack. Or there’s an ongoing raid and the GSD has to walk alongside their handlers.
Working dogs like German Shepherds are the most prone to become ‘velcro’.
These are dogs who become clingy with their dog parents. Because not only are they with them at work, but also at home.
A dog who has a clingy tendency will follow their dog parents around. Watch their every movement. And they always want to stay close.
#2: They’re being protective
Your German Shepherd goes between your legs because of their protective trait.
German Shepherds are one of the breeds known as guard dogs. That’s why you often see them in airports and malls as K-9 security.
But your pooch isn’t a working dog. Nor have they worked as a guard before.
So why do they walk or sit between your legs?
Your German Shepherd could be doing this because of a potential threat. There must be a bigger dog in the area. Or a strange person nearby.
Their instinct is telling them to be cautious. So they try to protect you by staying close.
Their guards are up in case something bad happens.
Curious to learn more about the German Shepherd dog breed? Check out this cool article here!
#3: Seeking comfort
Does your German Shepherd pup sit and walk in between your legs all the time? If so, then the reason for this could be because they’re afraid.
There could be someone at home they dislike. Or they’re intimidated by other dogs.
They seek your touch because they want comfort and safety.
“But Petya, my German Shepherd isn’t a puppy anymore. They’re a full-grown adult dog who just acts like a pup!”
Alright, I get what you mean.
And you may be surprised. Because this behavior is totally normal. Especially in medium to large dogs like German Shepherds.
In fact, Dr. Wailani Sung noticed that larger dogs are more prone to do this. (If compared to smaller breeds.)
It could be because they’re big and can’t be carried like a baby anymore. So they settle on clinging in between their dog parent’s legs instead.
You see, there are many reasons why dogs can be afraid. Like phobia, loud sounds, and strange people.
And when they get scared, they want their dog parent’s protection.
Here are the signs of a fearful dog:
- Lip licking.
- Barking or growling.
- Tucking tails in between legs.
#4: It’s their way to greet you
Dogs have different ways to show their excitement whenever you come home.
Some dogs jump as soon as you open the door. Others howl.
And then there’s your German Shepherd who often walks in between your legs.
They may often do this every time you arrive from work. Or when you’ve been gone for a long time for a vacation.
This behavior may seem silly.
Because walking with a German Shepherd in between your legs can be really funny!
But it’s your dog’s special way of greeting and expressing that they’ve missed you. And now they’re happy that you’re back.
#5: They lack confidence
Your German Shepherd isn’t used to seeing other dogs and people in your house. So every time you have a visitor, they go in between your legs.
“Why’s my dog acting like this?”
The reason for this is they don’t have confidence. Possibly because they lack social skills and exposure to other dogs.
This is a common problem for dogs who get separated too early from their siblings and birth mother.
Is this the situation for your GSD?
If so, you may also notice that aside from being insecure, they also didn’t learn bite inhibition. (Their playful bites may leave marks.)
They bark and whine often. And they frequently shy away from other dogs.
#6: You reinforce it
“I like walking in between my hooman’s legs. Because I can sniff their crotch and get pets at the same time!”
Your German Shepherd goes in between your legs because they get something from it.
And if you’re wondering, yes, your dog likes sniffing your butt and crotch. That’s why they may think of it as a reward, too.
You may be stroking their head when they look at you. And you also give them some butt-scratchin’ while you’re at it.
Your pooch loves all the extra attention you’re giving them.
So they’re doing this all the time.
It’s also possible that your dog receives treats from doing this. Even if it’s unintentional.
For instance, they go in between your legs while you eat. And to keep them off, you throw them food to lure them away from you.
Because of this, your German Shepherd thinks that it’s a reward for doing a good thing.
#7: They have separation anxiety
“I’m worried. My German Shepherd can’t stand being away from me.
Now, they’re even walking in between my legs!”, you sadly told your friend.
It looks like you’re dealing with a pooch who has separation anxiety.
And the reason why they go in between your legs is because they’re preventing you from leaving. Or they just want to be close to you always.
Dogs with separation anxiety can’t stand being separated from their dog parents. And when they do, they tend to do misbehaviors like:
- Eating non-edible items.
- Always following you around.
- Destroying furniture at home.
- Excessive vocalization when left alone.
Learn more: Why Does My Dog All Of A Sudden Have (Separation) Anxiety?
#8: They have a phobia
When dogs are scared, they like to hide in tight places. Because this gives them a sense of security.
Aside from that, they also like to stay close to people they trust to seek protection.
If your German Shepherd goes in between your legs, another possible reason for this is they have a phobia. And by doing this behavior, they somehow feel less scared.
“Wait, dogs get phobias?”
Yes, they do.
And some of their phobias are similar to humans. Like fear of loud sounds (thunderstorms, fireworks, vacuums). Or strange people and dogs.
Here’s an example.
Keepers of herding breeds such as German Shepherds struggle. Because they’re having trouble resolving their dogs’ phobia whenever there are thunderstorms.
In that research, 36% of dogs want to be close to their dog parents when there’s a thunderstorm. While 42% of them do attention-seeking behaviors.
According to their keepers, those dogs who have phobia also exhibit signs such as:
- Dilated pupils.
- Loss of bladder control.
#9: They’re claiming you
You wonder why your German Shepherd goes in between your legs whenever you’re outside. Especially when there are other dogs around.
Uh-oh! Are they scared?
Actually, the reason for this is they’re possessive. So they’re trying to rub their scent on you.
By doing this, other dogs will deter you. Because when they sniff you, they’d know that you’re already with your pooch.
“Is my dog claiming me because they’re trying to dominate me?”
Not at all. This domination theory between humans and dogs has long been debunked by research.
So it’s unlikely they’re going in between your legs because they’re trying to dominate you.
Still, you must curb this behavior if it gets excessive.
Rubbing their scent is pretty harmless. But if they start to pee on you, then that’s when you should start to worry.
#10: Your dog is overwhelmed
“Hey! Why does your GSD go in between your legs?
Let them play with the other dogs again.”
But your German Shepherd doesn’t want to play anymore. They just prefer to sit in between your legs.
Your dog’s doing this because the other dogs may be too excited. Or too rough with their play. They must be over vocal when playing with your pooch, too.
Your dog is overwhelmed.
So they go sit in between your legs for some quiet time.
By getting close to you, they think that other dogs will want to keep away. Hopefully to leave them alone.
Because your presence may intimidate them.
Think of it as having a bad date with someone who doesn’t want to take things slow.
As the date carries on, you just want to ask your friend to come and fetch you. You’re too overwhelmed. And you just want your friend to save you from the disastrous night.
#11: They’re trained to do this
Your German Shepherd goes in between your legs because they’re trained to do this. Either by you or their previous dog parents.
You see, going in between the legs is a neat trick taught to dogs. And it’s most commonly known as ‘Middle’.
Some dog parents train their German Shepherd to keep them behaved and relaxed. Especially when they’re in stressful situations and places.
Like vet clinics and groomers.
The ‘Middle’ trick can also be a form of bond and play between you and your pooch. As well as a safety precaution.
For instance, some dog parents use this trick when other dogs are crossing a busy street. And they want to keep their dog safe from cars passing by.
If your German Shepherd is already used to doing this, then you must use it to your advantage.
#12: It’s their way of showing love
Does your German Shepherd like to go in between your legs? And sometimes they walk this way with you, too?
Oh, and don’t forget their loving eyes as they look up to you.
Your dog could be doing this as their play. It’s their way to build their bond and connection with you. And a way to show their affection.
Aside from this, you may also notice that your German Shepherd likes to watch over the family. They guard the house. And they feel comfortable around you.
A brief story about my dog Lissa
My dog, Lissa, does this all the time. She’s a small Chi, though, so she can only reach the below of my knee.
Sometimes when I’m just standing she would circle around my feet and settle in between them. Then sometimes, she would casually lean on them, too.
I can sense how my sweet pooch is relaxed and happy whenever she does this.
#13: They want rear-end scratches
Your German Shepherd goes in between your legs to get some back scratches.
In their butt, at the base of their tail, or the rear end of their back.
Dogs don’t have long arms like you do. So sometimes, they need some help reaching these areas in their body.
“But how about my dog? They’re scratching like crazy!”
PetMD says it’s possible that they have skin problems. Like fleas, scabs, or skin allergies. In this case, you should look for signs of these such as:
- Dry, flaky skin.
- Red and irritated skin.
- Hair loss and bald patches.
- Small and large bumps that include crusts.
Note: Take your dog to a veterinarian or animal clinic if they’re showing signs mentioned above.
How do I stop my German Shepherd (puppy) from walking between my legs? 3 tips
#1: Teach them some basic commands
It’s dangerous when puppies walk in between people’s legs. They’re small. So you might not notice them always.
You may trip when you accidentally step on them. Or possibly fall down.
So to stop your German Shepherd puppy from doing this, train them some basic commands. Do this by teaching them the ‘Sit’ command first. Then the ‘Lie Down’ next.
But before the training starts, you must remember a few things.
Puppies have short attention spans. So you need to train your dog in a place where they can be less distracted. In this case, training them indoors is better than outdoors.
Okay, let’s start. Here’s how to train your puppy with the ‘Sit’ command.
Step 1: Show your dog a treat, then let them sniff it.
Step 2: Hold the treat to their nose, then arc it over their head.
Step 3: Once they sit down, praise and give them the treat.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3, then make their sitting time longer.
Step 5: Introduce the word ‘Sit’ as they’re sitting. Then give praise and treats again.
Repeat this training every day. This way, your German Shepherd puppy will easily get used to it.
‘Lie Down command
To train your dog how to lie down, watch this short video below.
#2: Stop walking and ignore them
The easiest way to curb a dog’s misbehavior is by correcting it early while they’re still pups.
What you can do is stop walking whenever they heel. And ignore them if they make any attempt to play with you.
By doing this often, your pooch will think that they won’t earn anything by walking in between your legs.
#3: Redirect their attention
Puppies are little balls of energy that you can easily sidetrack with things.
Just show them a shinier, more attractive thing and they’d leave whatever they’re doing to play with that.
(I knew a pup who plays with leaves, balls, and their dog parent all at the same time.)
If your German Shepherd puppy thinks that walking in between your legs is play. You need to redirect their attention.
Puppies like to play fetch. So you can throw them a ball so they’ll move away from you. Or show them a nice toy they can play with instead.
Bonus: Desensitize them
Your puppy walks in between your legs whenever they’re scared. To avoid this, VCA Hospitals recommends you desensitize them.
Here’s an example.
If they’re scared of vets who wear white coats, try wearing a similar one (your other family members should do it, too).
Then pretend to treat them as a vet would. Touch them with a stethoscope toy, etc.
By doing this, your puppy will get used to being touched by people wearing the same thing.