Dog owners often have this chain of questions in the back of their minds:
- Why does my dog follow me everywhere?
- Is that strange?
- Should I be concerned?
No, it’s quite normal.
Yet, this behavior can become excessive overtime. At first, it’s nice to have your pupper following your every step. Then it gets too much to handle, or it ends up being a danger to both of you.
Let’s start talking about this behavior and whether it’s a reason for concern. Why does the relationship between dogs and their owners get to this stage? Read on to find out:
- Should You Worry About This Behavior?
- Harmless Reasons Why Your Dog Is Following You
- How to Stop This Behavior
Is This Behavior a Reason for Concern?
Remember when you were younger, and you followed your crush no matter where they went? Or how you stuck to your parents all the time? So, why does my dog follow me everywhere? For the same reason.
A long, long time ago, dogs were wolves — savage, cunning, and powerful predators hunting in packs. Quite different from the lovable and goofy creatures they are today. Dogs relied on their group for safety, shelter, and food. Surviving in the wild isn’t easy now, and it wasn’t easy back then.
Then dogs met people. The alliance forged between dogs and us took a while. Yet, humans tamed them by providing food, safety, and love. So, before you say: “My dog loves me too much,” remember it’s in their DNA to adore their owners.
We care for our dogs, and they see us as an essential part of their family, as they are of ours. So it makes sense that my dog is obsessed with me, and yours is probably the same. We’re now their pack, and most of the time, we’re its leader.
If your dog is following you, it can be a sign that it likes being around you. It’s only natural since we rub their cute bellies, take them out for playful walks, and give them lots and lots of treats.
Of course, dogs freaking love us. We’re like a walking funhouse for them, a constant source of joy and excitement. You run around with your dog, play fetch, wrestle with him, pet him when it’s good.
That’s why a dog trails behind its owner all the time. It studies its master and looks for any indication that fun is on the way. People love the company of dogs, and vice versa.
So, why do dogs cling to one person? Perhaps you unconsciously taught your dog to do that. In the worst-case scenario, your dog following you can be a sign of separation anxiety. But let’s go over all the possible reasons for this shadowing behavior.
Most Possible Reasons Are Harmless
Here are the common causes of shadowing behavior:
- Man’s best friend DNA
- Imprinting/Need for attention
- Separation anxiety
One thing’s for sure — a dog’s always looking for new forms of entertainment. Unlike us boring humans, with our dull jobs, cooking, cleaning, and a hundred other things we need to do daily, dogs just wanna have fun.
If your four-legged friend starts clinging to you out of nowhere, it’s looking for some fun because it’s bored. Following you increases the possibility of something exciting happening.
Why do dogs follow you into the bathroom, then? Well, it looks like you’re embarking on a dazzling adventure. Your pup wants to tag along. Who wouldn’t?
Thankfully, satisfying their energetic curiosity is as easy as eating cake. Take your dog for a walk, play with it, do anything to excite, and tire it out. Both physical and mental stimulations help dogs. You could also get a wireless dog fence, and let your puppy explore the yard as much as it wishes.
Keep things fresh — go to a new location, introduce your friends to it, get a new chewing toy, throw a puppy party, visit a place with snow, or go on a boat ride! There’s a ton of fun activities for you and your animal companion. Yet, they can’t solve everything.
The dog won’t leave my side after all of this. Try giving it a toy. Even get a brand new toy or treat. In case none of that helps, it’s probably not boredom.
Man’s Best Friend DNA
We domesticated and bred dogs to be our best friends and lifelong buddies. It’s in their blood to show interest in everything we do. Because humanity’s bond with canines grew over time, now they’re almost like children. That’s especially true if you got your pet at a very young age.
Pups need time with their mother and playmates. During their earliest days, they eat, play, and learn how to behave. Growing up with other dogs helps them develop normally. They gain confidence, build independence, and can then become your best friend.
Dogs without this lack confidence. They’re anxious, scared, and reliant on the only thing that’s familiar to them — a man.
My dog won’t leave my side because years and years of taming and bonding taught it to always be there for me. Puppies don’t know what personal space means, so constantly clinging to you is what they think they need to do all the time. It’s cute, but it can get overwhelming.
On the flip side, it’s common for owners to teach their dogs that being clingy is good. Hold on, before you start thinking I’m crazy, hear me out.
Remember all those times your pup came to you randomly? And you were happy, excited, patted it on the head, and rubbed its belly? Maybe even gave it treats for being such a good and cuddly boy? Well, that’s behavior reinforcement. So the dog obsession with owner thing? Quite possibly, your doing.
Everyone does this. We’re all thrilled that our dog sees us as a great company. Yet when this goes on and on, our lovable puppy thinks it’s a reward for this behavior. So it continues to repeat that. It won’t stop unless you start training.
As soon as your pup starts jumping on you, don’t pet it. Tell it to sit first. Teaching a dog to be still and calm is easy with enough training and patience. We have tips for that, so keep reading.
Need of Affection
Puppies can imprint from a very young age. It’s a means of survival that teaches them how to act and who their parents are. If you’ve got a seven weeks old puppy or younger, there’s a good chance it imprinted on you.
Congratulations, you’re now a proud mother/father! Before you think: “Why does my dog follow me and not my husband?” remember it’s because it imprinted on you, not him.
You’re its role model now. It’s a big responsibility, I know, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. As long as you don’t teach it to be around you all the time, you’ll be fine.
Just train it to socialize well with other humans, dogs, and other animals. Show your puppy that being without you isn’t the end of the world. Otherwise, separation anxiety can occur, and it’s most frequent with little dogs.
Dogs have anxiety too. Especially one that’s tied to their owner leaving. Have you ever asked yourself: “Why does my dog follow me everywhere I go and wait at the door for me until I get back?” Separation anxiety could be the answer.
Why does this happen? There are many reasons:
- traumatic past (especially for shelter dogs)
- sudden distressing events like moving to a new house
- a household member being away (due to college, divorce, or death).
When separation anxiety is triggered, the dog experiences something akin to a panic attack when the owner leaves it.
Why does my dog follow me everywhere in this case? Because it’s scared that you’re going to abandon it. For good. It doesn’t matter if it’s for 10 minutes or an hour; through their eyes, you’ve left forever. Some of the most common separation anxiety symptoms are:
- Destroying anything in the vicinity, urinating and defecating when you’re not around
- Painful howling and trembling when the owner is about to leave
- Extreme escape attempts that can injure the dog
- Heavy breathing and salivating when away from the owner
Anxiety is a big problem even for us humans. We can understand it, but dogs can’t. If you notice any of these symptoms and they keep occurring, consult with a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.
My puppy follows me everywhere. What to do? Most people abandon their puppies when these things start happening. Don’t be that person. Help your pet, don’t leave it when it needs you the most.
What to Do if You Want to Stop This Behavior
We love our cute dogs. Their fur is silky and pleasant to touch, and that positive energy can repair any sour mood. Dogs are a blessing, but too much of a good thing can ruin it. Worry not, my dear dog lover; there are ways to stop your pet from following you everywhere.
First, identify if reinforcement brought you into this situation. Are you patting your dog’s head and giving treats when it’s around and clings to your side all the time? If the answer is yes, it’s time to replace your enthusiastic response with coolness.
Anyhow, my dog keeps following me. What’s the solution?
Be calm without showing it too much affection and energy. Instead, go and give it a treat AND a belly rub when it’s lying down, chilling, minding its own business. That way, you’re rewarding it for being away from you.
A more advanced version of this method is “sit” practice. Sounds simple, but we wouldn’t be here if things were that simple. Your puppy has to sit when you say so. When it’s acting energetic and wild, it’s time to set some boundaries.
Having “sit” training with your dog helps in lots of situations. Teaching obedience and voice commands come in handy.
Anyhow, the dog keeps following me. What’s the solution? You and your pup can undergo some training to emphasize being in one place. Alone. Separated from each other.
Start things off by getting your dog to sit for 5 minutes without you. It will be challenging, especially in the beginning. But you’re both strong, and once you increase that time, your canine will get used to it. Reward your good boy each time it completes the task. This can teach it to value alone time and even welcome it.
So, my dog follows me everywhere still. Another great solution is exercise — time to run, jump, and get very tired. We also recommend puzzle toys and other mental stimulations. An exhausted dog is less likely to be clingy when it gets home.
Puppies have lots of energy. Once that’s gone, sleep comes. So, if you’re like, “Why does my puppy follow me everywhere?”, know that it still has energy that needs spending.
Exercises of all kinds are always welcome, not just when you’re dealing with a clingy dog.
Helping your pup get rid of excess energy is an excellent way to keep it satisfied and content. It can lie down and sleep or gnaw at his chew toy instead of hanging around you constantly.
Lastly, make your dog love its crate. Put a food puzzle toy in there, or throw a calming snack when it goes there. Just don’t use the crate as a punishment method, which can raise many dog behavior problems by itself.
So, why does my dog follow me everywhere? After reading this article, that should no longer be a concern for any dog owner. It doesn’t matter if it’s companionship, boredom, separation anxiety, or something else.
You can now figure out why your puppy keeps being clingy. Make sure to jump around with it, teach it to love its crate and alone time, have some sit training. When you can spend time apart, it makes your time together even more precious. Also, give your dog a head pat from me.