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Help! - my dog follows me everywhere

Many dogs love to follow their humans around the house. It is their expression of love and interest for their human companions. But when your dog gets clingy, the behaviour can be a symptom of low confidence or underlying anxiety.

Watch your dog’s body language to determine if his shadowing behavior is motivated by fear versus his desire to be near you.

why do dogs follow people around?

Having a dog that follows you around can be a loving experience and provide countless humorous or endearing tales to share with others. Think of your dog following you as a compliment; it shows his love and trust in you as his favorite companion. Whether it is adorable or plain annoying, here are common reasons why your dog follows you around.

companionship

To you he is just a pet, to him you are his world. You may be the only company your dog has on a daily basis, which means you are his primary focus. Dogs are social creatures so being alone at home is an adjustment to their natural behaviour. Because we share such a close relationship with them, our dogs crave our companionship and our attention.

1. follow the leader

Dogs learn from our behavior around them. If there are multiple people in the home, a dog will quickly learn who primarily feeds and plays with her, who is the most likely to cuddle with her. Your dog follows you simply because he does not want to miss out on any special activities or food opportunities!

2. boredom / lack of mental stimulation

Often many pet dogs do not get enough physical exercise and mental stimulation. So dogs follow their humans to kill time and as their own forms of entertainment. After all, their humans do many interesting things such as opening the fridge, eating something and leaving crumbs behind, talking to them and possibly petting them.

3. separation anxiety

Often, clingy behaviors are seen in dogs suffering from separation anxiety. Many dogs that are generally afraid of thunderstorms or loud sounds also exhibit shadowing behavior.

Your dog’s body language can determine if his shadowing behavior is motivated by fear versus his desire to be near you. Your dog is anxious if his ears are pinned, his eyes wide and he is panting excessively as you get ready to leave. He might not be willing to eat a treat or play with a toy while you leave the room.

4. they’re trying to tell you something

If your dog suddenly starts following you everywhere, try following him back and see if he is trying to lead you somewhere. He just might be trying to get you to notice something.  Your dog may also begin following you around to tell you he does not feel well or he needs some help.

5. certain breeds are clingier than others

Certain breeds, such as herding dogs, are simply prone to following their humans than others. Herding breeds including Border Collies and Labrador Retrievers, were bred to follow human orders to perform specific jobs such as herding sheep’s and livestock. In the absence of sheep, they may also follow their human’s every move. 

how to stop your dog from following you everywhere?

Often your dog’s shadowing behavior is nothing to worry about.

You can help decrease how much your dog follows you around by making sure he receives plenty of daily exercise. A tired dog is a calm dog. Many dogs will follow their owners around due to boredom. Providing your dog with engaging toys and treat dispensers, helps to stimulate his brain and helps to alleviate boredom which also distract his energy away from you. 

A helpful way to boost independence in clingy dogs is to teach them how to lie calmly on a bed, towel, or mat.  One option is to teach your dog to sit and remain calm no matter the circumstances.

In this method, take a new bed or mat and ask your dog to lie down on it. Reward your dog each time he successfully lies down on the mat. Eventually, he will learn to lie down and stay on his designated mat for extended periods of time. 

Do try to ignore any undesired behavior and reward your dog by giving him a treat or scratches when he settles down onto his bed or takes his attention off of you to play with a toy. 

Never scold your dog for following you around because this can lead to fear and may also reinforce the behavior as a result of you giving your dog attention when the behavior is performed. 

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