Everyone loves spending quality time with their dogs, right? Right. But some days, when your dog has been following you around for hours, you might be wondering why he does that. Keep reading to find out why your dog follows you everywhere. Once you understand, maybe you’ll “forgive” him.
1. Velcro dogs
Canines that follow their owners everywhere are called “Velcro dogs” — for obvious reasons. Sally Morgan, author and holistic physical therapist for pets and people, said, “Dogs are pack animals, and we are their pack.”
It’s natural behavior, in other words. But it’s not just because they are pack animals, according to the AKC.
2. Here’s what science says
According to the AKC, there are scientific reasons your dog is so clingy. “Young puppies (anywhere from birth to 6 months of age) can often imprint on their owners and look to them as they would their mother,” said Dr. Rachel Barrack, a licensed veterinarian certified in both veterinary acupuncture and Chinese herbology.
So when you call your dog your “kid,” you might not be stretching the truth too much. Make sure you’re a positive role model for him.
3. You positively reinforce the behavior
If you give your dog lots of love, that could be another reason he stays close to your side, according to the AKC. “If every time you are with your dog, he gets affection or treats, he’s likely to [follow you around] more often,” said Dr. Barrack says.
Let’s say you’re flattered that your dog clings to you and you unknowingly reward him for his clingy behavior. Really, what you’re doing is sending him a message that the attention is welcome.
4. Certain breeds are clingier than others
Certain breeds, such as working or herding dogs, are bred to work by their humans’ sides, according to the AKC. And this might cause these breeds to over-attach to their owners.
“It’s a trait that’s prized and bred into their genetic history,” said Erin Kramer, a professional certified dog trainer and owner of Tug Dogs in Northern California. If your dog is overly attached, it’s important to figure out whether this Velcro behavior is part of his personality and breeding, or if something more serious is going on.
5. Maybe it’s separation anxiety
Don’t panic, but if your dog follows you everywhere it could be an indication that he has separation anxiety, according to the AKC. And there are subtle differences between the two forms of behavior.
Simply put, a Velcro dog stays attached because he simply wants to stay near his owner, while a dog with real separation anxiety becomes anxious when he’s away from his owner. If your dog does have separation anxiety, it’s crucial to modify that behavior through positive reinforcement — and hopefully, lots of patience.
6. Rescued dogs’ histories factor in
If you adopted your dog, his life experience before you got him could influence how clingy he is, according to the AKC. You have no idea what went on before you got him, and it might have been unpleasant.
He might be clingy because he’s afraid of being abandoned. “Those previous experiences have an impact on a dog and can contribute to the lingering fear of abandonment,” said Dr. Barrack.
7. Dogs bond because of this
If your dog chooses one person in the household to bond with — and follow around — it’s for a reason, according to the AKC.
“Look at it from the dog’s point of view,” said Kramer. “You might think you’re the cool one, but the person your dog is attached to is the road to everything wonderful and magical. The focus is on that person because of what they give access to.”
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