- Typical reasons why dogs follow their owners include separation anxiety, boredom, lack of trust or fear, and the need for help;
- Some breeds, especially those that have been bred to follow herds of sheep, are more likely to follow their pet parents;
- Due to doggie dementia, elderly dogs can become more clingy;
- There are many methods you can use to limit your dog’s shadowing behavior at home;
As pet owners, we usually enjoy the company of our furry friends: we love spending time with them, playing with them, petting them, and so on. However, sometimes, it may seem like your dog is stalking you. While this is generally just a sign of the dog’s interest in you, it can also be a symptom of underlying anxiety or the pet’s lack of confidence.
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What Does It Mean If My Dog Follows Me Everywhere?
Whether you find your dog’s following behavior cute and lovable or not, you may want to know why your pup is doing this. There are several common reasons why your pet may shadow you around the house.
Many dogs don’t get enough physical and mental activity every day. This can lead them to follow their owners everywhere, looking for something – actually, anything – to do. If you give your dog a chew toy, does it stop shadowing you? If so, the pet was probably just bored!
Lack of trust or fear
Some dogs rely on our social presence because they are nervous about being alone. According to a study conducted at the University of Helsinki, this can be a symptom of separation anxiety experienced by almost ⅕ of the global dog population. Canines with separation anxiety often excessively focus on their owners or panic when they are left alone. This behavior is often intensified during thunderstorms, fireworks displays, or other situations that may cause the pet to worry.
The events your dog experienced prior to becoming a part of your family can also contribute to the pet’s fixation on someone. It is especially true for dogs who have been rescued. Their previous experiences can contribute to the lingering fear of abandonment.
Try to observe your dog’s body language to determine whether its following behavior is motivated by the pet’s fear of the unknown or simply its desire to be close to you. A scared dog will often become tense, open its eyes wider than usual, and start randomly gasping for air when you’re ready to leave. When you leave the room, dogs who are actually anxious won’t be willing to eat a treat or play with a toy. The condition might be worsened if you make a big deal about coming home or going out.
Food and daily routines
Affection is not the only important thing in a dog’s life. Food is also of the utmost importance to most pets. When you sit down at the table, your dog will often watch every bite you take, wait for crumbs to fall to the floor, and take every opportunity to beg for a piece of your meal. As a result, it’s perfectly normal for your pet to shadow you around mealtime.
Also, if you feed your pet at the same time every day, it will usually get excited around that time and, therefore, start following you in anticipation of a tasty treat. The same can apply to other daily routines, such as walks and playtime.
If your dog has been following you around for a while or it suddenly starts sticking to your side, it could be a sign that the pet needs something! Many dogs become particularly vulnerable when they feel uncomfortable or otherwise need help. Try following your pet in return and determine if it is trying to lead you somewhere – maybe the dog is in pain, or it may simply need to go outside.
Humans domesticated dogs at least 15,000 years ago. Over this time, natural selection has shaped dogs to become our inseparable friends. Spending time alone might be an entirely unfamiliar experience to them. Since dogs are social beings, they are highly motivated to be in our presence as often as possible. According to Dr. Rachel Barrack, a licensed veterinarian in New York City, bonds between pet owners and their pets are similar to those between parents and children.
Some breeds are simply more inclined to follow their owners than others. Border Collies and Shelties, and guard breeds such as Pyrenees and German Shepherds are particularly known for following their owners everywhere. Humans have bred these dogs for thousands of years to follow herds of sheep. However, in the absence of sheep or other livestock, these dogs can instead follow their owners. According to Erin Kramer, a professional certified dog trainer, this trait has been highly sought-after and intentionally bred into the pets’ genetics.
Why Does My Dog Follow Me To The Bathroom?
There’s one thing all dog owners should know – dogs don’t know what privacy is! They don’t have any idea that you may be embarrassed in certain situations and that you would rather be alone. And they don’t feel the need to keep to themselves. On the contrary, dogs are pack animals by nature, which means that they prefer to do everything with their owner. So whether you two are hunting, defending the territory, playing together, or even going to the bathroom, it does not matter – your dog will want to be with you.
Additionally, canines have a very strong sense of smell, and they are often excited by the odors coming from bathrooms. So what we consider to be an unpleasant smell might be quite an intriguing odor for our furry friends. Furthermore, bathrooms often have open garbage cans filled with tissues and other trash that dogs like sniffing and tearing up.
Curiosity is another reason why your dog may follow you to the bathroom. The pet has probably seen you disappear into the bathroom and lock the door from the inside countless times. Naturally, this arouses the pet’s curiosity: what is going on behind the locked door? What are you doing in there, and why are you denying the dog access to the bathroom? If your dog is very affectionate and you bring it (almost) everywhere with you, it will be incredibly irritating for the pet to be excluded from something suddenly.
My Elderly Dog Follows Me Everywhere And Stares At Me
Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) or “doggie dementia” is common in old or geriatric dogs. This syndrome is caused by the degeneration of the pet’s brain neurons. Symptoms of this disease can include disorientation, anxious behavior, and changes in the pet’s sleep cycles. CDS can be one of the possible reasons why your elderly dog has become more clingy. Also, senior dogs are inclined to develop chronic diseases, so any new behavioral patterns could signify a novel medical condition.
What Should I Do If My Dog’s Following Behavior Has Gone Too Far?
In general, the fact that your dog wants to be with you isn’t a big deal. However, there are two main exceptions to this rule: when you find this behavior to be excessive or annoying or when your dog feels alone because it really is alone.
Once you’ve decided that your dog’s shadowing behavior is excessive and you no longer want your dog to follow you around, there is a relatively simple solution: give it something else to do instead.
Make sure that the pet receives enough daily physical and mental exercise. Remember that a tired dog is a calm dog. Toy treat dispensers filled and puzzle toys also work well to help reduce your pet’s boredom, stimulate its brain and help divert its attention from your absence.
Remember, it’s crucial to avoid reinforcing your pet’s shadowing behavior. According to Dr. Barrack, if a pet figures out that it can get affection or treats every time it follows you, it will continue doing this all the time. However, scolding your dog for following is not a good idea since this might lead to anxiety. Instead, just ignore your pet when it’s following you around, and the behavior may subside on its own.
You can also try putting your dog behind a baby gate or tying the pet’s leash to a door before leaving the room.
If your dog has always been independent but suddenly started following you everywhere, you need to show the pet to a vet. Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC chief veterinary officer, points out that if your pet suddenly becomes very clingy, it may be a sign of some medical condition that’s causing your pet to be uncomfortable or in pain. The pet may want to follow you around because your presence brings it comfort. A vet will conduct a thorough physical exam and laboratory tests to rule out serious health issues.
Remember that it’s okay to admit that your dog’s shadowing behavior is a bit much. We all love our dogs, but most of us also like to have some personal space. With the help of the steps mentioned above, you can teach your dog to give you more space.
Is it bad that my dog follows me everywhere?
Generally, such behavior is just a sign of your dog’s interest in you. However, if you find it annoying, there are many effective strategies to teach your dog to give you some privacy.
Do dogs have a favorite person?
In households with many people, dogs are likely to be more focused on the person who feeds them and takes them for walks.
What does it mean when your dog follows you to the bathroom?
A dog might follow you to the bathroom due to intriguing odors, curiosity, and the desire to protect you everywhere you go.
What is the most clingy dog breed?
Border Collies, Shelties, and guard breeds such as Pyrenees and German Shepherds are known to follow their pet parents around due to their genetic predisposition to shadowing.