Do you have a little shadow that follows you everywhere around the house? It’s both cute and inconvenient at times, but we push through that inconvenience because it means our pet loves us. Right? Yes, it does but there are other reasons why your dog follows you everywhere. Today, we’re going to go over all of them.
Why Does My Dog Follow Me Everywhere?
If you have a “velcro dog,” chances are you’ve asked yourself this exact question a few times. The answer is actually pretty simple: it’s their instinct to follow the leader! Dogs are pack animals and if they follow you, it means they see you as the alpha of the pack. As the owner, this is exactly what you should want. It’s good behavior!
There are other reasons a dog follows you, though. It’s not just instinctual, it’s emotional as well. They could follow you because they love you, want to be around you, for positive reinforcement, or they could follow you because they don’t like being alone — which can be a sign of separate anxiety.
Many dog owners think separation anxiety is more common for shelter dogs — ones you’ve adopted later in life. In actuality, it is quite common in most dogs. It’s estimated to affect about 14% of pups. This is because young dogs often imprint on their owner as if they were their mother.
Puppies need their mother and rely on them — if they don’t grow out of this as they get older, they can develop separation anxiety.
months of age) can often imprint on their owners and look at them as they would their mother,” says Dr. Barrack.
Another reason your dog might stay close to your side is positive reinforcement. If you like to give them treats (and who doesn’t), then your dog will learn to follow you around and act cute to get rewarded. They train us as much as we train them — they learn to do what we like so they can be rewarded for it.
If your dog isn’t super clingy, but suddenly wants to be by your side at all hours, they may be trying to tell you that something is wrong. Remember, not all injuries and illnesses are obvious. If they’re limping, they could have torn their ACL, or if they’re not eating, they could have a virus or gastrointestinal bug. Bring them to the vet to find the cause as soon as you can.
Following the Leader
In households consisting of multiple people, there’s a good chance your dog will seem to prefer one family member over all of the others. They don’t mean anything by it, it’s simply in their nature. They love all of you, but they look to one person in particular as the leader.
It’s a toss-up who that leader will be. If you raised them since puppyhood, there is a good chance it will be you. However, if you adopt an older dog, they can gravitate toward anyone, regardless who feeds, trains, or plays with them.
Don’t take it personally if they don’t choose you! Who a dog chooses as a leader depends a lot on their past experiences. If they had a male owner before, then they will likely gravitate towards a male in their next family. They may also hate it when their chosen leader leaves the room or the home for prolonged periods of time, as they remember their old family. This behavior may fade in time, but it is good to set boundaries with your dog early on if you notice them.
Creating a Healthy Balance
If your dog is too clingy, then you need to teach them that it’s okay to be alone. There are various approaches owners can take to help a dog who exhibits these traits. What is best is a dog who loves your attention and being close to you, but is fine when you’re not around.
Here are a few tips:
Bond with your dog and make sure they get socialized with other dogs and humans. This teaches them to “let go” of their attachment with you and encourages them to form a healthy relationship with others.
Keep your dog active, both physically and mentally, to help them settle down and relax before you have to leave the house. A dog with too much energy and separation anxiety often leads to bad behaviors, like getting into the trash or ripping up furniture.
Train your dog to “stay” and go to their “place.” Experiment with leaving them in those commands and walking away to see what your dog does. They may whine and bark the first few times, but repetition is key here! The more they learn that “stay” and “place” are good commands and they’re safe when doing them, the more comfortable they’ll be when you leave the room.
Finally, set rules and stick to them. If you don’t want your dog to be stuck to your feet at dinner, teach them to stay in another room. This creates a healthy boundary where you both get alone time and you can enjoy eating in peace. You can also try consulting a professional dog trainer to teach them these good boundaries.
Just remember that having a Velcro dog isn’t bad! Separation anxiety is normal and you do need to change some habits to help your dog cope, however. We hope this blog helped explain why your dog follows you everywhere!