Dogs are inclined to follow their owners everywhere. They like being close to us whether we’re going to the living room or the bedroom.
This shadowing behavior in dogs is usually just a sign of your dog’s affection for you, but it can also be as bad as separation anxiety or trying to relieve their medical condition.
We explore why your dog follows you and how to stop it. There are benefits to this behavior, which we also discuss. But we also cover ways to stop your dog from following you if it becomes a nuisance.
Why Does My Dog Always Follow Me?
Your dog follows you around because they are social creatures who crave companionship. Even in the wild, dogs thrived in packs.
Often referred to as “velcro dogs”, dogs who follow you everywhere are simply overly attached to you because they see you as their leader.
Here are some specific reasons why your dog keeps on following you.
If you have a puppy, it is natural for them to follow everyone, especially us, around. This is more likely to happen if their mother isn’t around.
Pups are dependent on us to keep them safe until they can grow into adult dogs who will keep us safe in return.
This isn’t just a survival instinct. Puppies tag along because they are learning how to interact with us and the world around them.
They are starting to observe what they do or just enjoy being with us all the time.
Treasure these moments and make sure to give your puppy adequate attention as they develop.
One of the main reasons why your dog enjoys following you is that being pack-oriented is hardwired into their DNA.
Their ancestors always looked for food and explored in groups for the sake of survival. They play, sleep, eat, and do everything together as a group.
Dogs brought this trait with them when they became domesticated.
They follow you because it assures them that they have access to food, water, shelter, and most of all, a companion.
Humans and dogs have a mutually beneficial relationship.
They See You as the Leader
Your dog may be following because they consider you the leader of the pack. Hence, they love to follow the leader.
Dogs typically get fixated on one person who provides them with their needs.
It can be the adult in the house who feeds them and takes them out or the kid who gives them endless playtime and cuddles.
Your dog likes to focus on you because they understand that you give access to what they need, and this is a sign of good behavior.
However, too much dependence on you can lead to bad behavior. Being your dog’s pack leader should mean obeying you and giving you space when needed.
As mentioned, dogs are pack animals. At home, you might be the only member of the pack, so you are their main focus.
They value the close relationship you have with one another, and they crave your companionship all the time.
This is normal as the dog-human connection deepened when dogs became domesticated and welcomed into households.
Think of it this way. You have many circles of friends and family, but your dog only has you.
So, it’s normal for them to be interested in everything you do and follow you everywhere you go. It’s nice to have a furry friend following us around.
It only becomes bad behavior when your dog is not trained to respect your alone time.
Pay attention to your dog’s body language when you notice that they’ve been following you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Can they stay in a room without you, or do they always need to be by your side?
- Do they seem anxious or relaxed when they are following you?
Naturally, dogs do not understand the concept of privacy and space. To them, you always have to be in packs for safety and survival.
But you need to train them not to be overly attached in the household setting so both of you can live more peaceful lives and enjoy each other’s company even more.
Aside from your dog being a pack animal, certain breeds tend to be extra clingy because they are bred to do jobs that require them to work with people.
To accomplish a task, they need to be close to the human and observe how they act so they know how to respond.
Some of these breeds include:
- German Shepherd
- Siberian Husky
- Great Dane
- Bernese Mountain Dog.
Even though it’s okay to let your dog follow you so they can help you with work, they might just be doing it because they are overly dependent.
Your Dog is Scared
Your dog might be following you because they don’t feel safe at the moment. It can be because of certain noises, like fireworks or thunderstorms.
Even though they make good guard dogs, they also want protection from us because they understand that the human-dog relationship is mutually beneficial.
Your dog wants to be near you to help them calm down and feel safe.
They depend on us for survival, and we depend on them for their loyalty.
There are also times when your dog is not scared but they lack confidence.
They might depend on our presence because they simply do not want to be alone and are just generally worried.
Check your dog’s body language if they are showing signs of fear or anxiety, such as:
- pinned ears
- wide eyes
- increased tension
- barking or howling
- self-harm, like excessive licking or chewing themselves.
Shelter or Rescue Dogs
Many shelter or rescue dogs have a history of separation anxiety.
They have been neglected and abandoned many times, maybe even their whole lives. And as a result, they have clingy behavior.
They get anxious right away when you’re about to leave because of their trauma, so they try to cope by following you everywhere you go.
Some dogs also end up in a shelter because of the same behaviors, so the reason may be unclear.
All we know is, shelter dogs are more likely to follow you everywhere, be more anxious, and show destructive behaviors.
But it’s never too late to teach them how to be well-behaved and happy fur babies, so don’t give up on your rescue dog.
They Want Attention
Dogs want nothing more than our precious attention. They enjoy following their humans around since they know they will get a reward in the form of attention.
Maybe you’re also rewarding them with playtime, cuddles, belly rubs, pats on the head, or verbal praises, which makes them want to follow you more.
Dogs may also seek attention from you especially when they are bored. You’ll notice that they do this when they are laying around all day with nothing exciting to do.
When you do not give your dog adequate mental stimulation, they tend to follow you more, especially if it is the only way to get them to move and fuel their curiosity.
You might think this velcro dog behavior is cute and endearing, but it can cause inconveniences in the future.
Don’t reinforce this attention-seeking behavior if you believe it may lead to danger or the development of behavioral issues.
Your dog loves you and wants you to be safe all the time. They become alert and very protective of you because they tend to follow you around.
Guarding you is an extension of your dog’s pack mentality. But some traits need to be adjusted to fit your household.
This behavior usually happens with guard dog breeds that weren’t trained well. Guard dogs for the family should learn to perceive whether something is really a threat or not.
Your dog may be guarding you out of separation anxiety, and this has to be addressed right away.
Sometimes, your dog’s unconditional devotion can put both of you in danger.
Your Dog is Trying to Tell You Something
If your dog doesn’t always follow you around but suddenly does without any external clues like noises, then they are probably trying to tell you something.
For instance, they want to lead you somewhere or they are asking you to take them outside to pee.
It is also possible that your dog is hungry or thirsty.
Observe which basic need they currently do not have access to because your dog is probably trying to get you to notice it.
It is also important to check if they are not feeling well. Your dog might be following you because they are trying to tell you that they are in pain.
Here are some signs of pain in dogs:
- crying, yelping, or whining
- growling and other forms of aggression
- sensitive to touch
- low activity levels
- loss of appetite
- rapid, shallow breathing
- licking themselves
- increased heart rate.
Your Dog is Curious
It is also possible for your dog to be curious about your whereabouts, which is why they are following you.
Like children, our dogs get naturally curious about many things. They follow you to know what is going on in your surroundings and because they do not want to be left behind.
Again, your dog’s world revolves around you, so it is normal for them to be interested in you.
Sometimes, this behavior can trigger you. For instance, when you’re trying to cook in the kitchen and your dog keeps following you and sticking their nose where you are working.
Benefits of Your Dog Following You
If you’re wondering what your dog is getting from following you all the time, it could be a lot of things, from attention to information about you.
The human-animal relationship is mutually beneficial. When your dog spends time with you, they will get reinforcement out of it if you can tolerate it.
For example, they can get food, treats, petting, playtime, and companionship. On the other hand, you get more protection and companionship as well.
Aside from the rewards, dogs may also be motivated to follow you around for the time that you spend with them.
The longer you bond, the better you understand one another, helping them decode your actions and interact better with you.
Dogs are curious human beings who find happiness in studying our movements and gestures.
That is why you’ll notice them excitedly standing up when we stand up in the morning because they know it’s time to take a walk.
When we go to the kitchen in the afternoon, they know lunchtime is near.
Dogs are the best human language experts among other animals. They can even understand words, that’s why they can obey commands.
But we also benefit from our dogs following us everywhere. An inquisitive, loyal, and obedient dog reduces our sadness and motivates us to play and exercise.
Dogs who like touching us or being close to us make us feel special because we know they are giving us their unconditional love.
Having dogs in our lives improves our mood and helps us manage our stress.
Most importantly, we get to bond with our dogs because they understand us and communicate with us.
When to Stop Your Dog from Following You
You should stop your dog from following you when it has caused you inconveniences, and they are showing signs of behavioral issues.
Most of the time, your dog’s shadowing behavior is not something you should worry about. In fact, your dog following you can help improve your bond.
Here are some signs that your dog’s following has gone too far:
- They are distracting you from your work or other important activities.
- Your dog only wants to interact with you and is scared of or angry at other humans and animals.
- Your dog is showing signs of anxiety, separation anxiety, and fear.
- Your dog is showing signs of pain.
- You have reinforced the behavior and they always expect a reward when they follow you.
It is healthy for dogs to observe and understand their owner’s commands and cues, but too much of anything can be bad.
If your dog only wants to interact with you, they are probably not well-socialized, or you have overly bonded with them.
While we love our dogs, there is no problem in saying that their following behavior has gone too far or is annoying.
Remember, your dog may be following you not because they like having you around but because they do not want to be alone.
How to Stop Your Dog from Following You
Teaching your dog to be independent will benefit both of you in a lot of ways. For instance, anxious dogs will be less prone to chewing themselves and the furniture.
Safety is another reason to teach them to stop following you around.
Here are some ways you can stop your dog tagging behind you all day.
Install a Dog Gate
If you want to reduce your velcro dog’s clinginess, a dog gate can help them stop following you in certain areas of the house.
Dog gates come in many styles. Some are pressure-mounted, while others are freestanding. Dog gates with access doors also exist, along with permanently installed gates.
While it can avoid destruction in your house, it’s only a temporary solution to your dog’s behavioral problem. But it’s a helpful tool that will aid them in gaining more confidence.
Check out Cumbor’s 46-inch Auto-Close Safety Dog Gate. This white gate is easy to install in just ten minutes. This ergonomically designed dog gate has an auto-close feature to lock the gate with no hands
You can also help them enjoy the areas of the house they are allowed in by tossing stuffed toys and treats before you leave the room.
Your dog is going to love the taste of Amazon Wag Treats. They are made of farm-raised American chicken without any soy, wheat, corn, or other by-products.
Using rewards teaches them positive associations with you leaving.
Don’t Let Them Sleep in Bed with You
Don’t get us wrong. It’s okay to let your dog sleep with you if they are well-trained and if it is safe to do so.
Otherwise, letting them stay close to you during bedtime will only encourage clingy behaviors. They will assume that you always have to be together anytime and anywhere.
Instead, you can keep their dog bed in the bedroom when it’s time to sleep. If you have an outside dog, you can also make their dog house comfortable with good bedding and toys.
Don’t Let Them Lay on Your Feet
This is another way of encouraging their Velcro dog syndrome. You don’t want your dog to assume that they have to be with you all the time.
Dogs sleep or lay near you because they want to feel protected while they are in dreamland. They expect you to guard them as they guard you.
But you have to teach your dog that there is no need to be threatened when both of you are at home.
Train your dog to stop laying on your feet, sleeping on your pillow with you, or sleeping anywhere near you so they can gain more confidence in themselves.
Train the Stay Command
The stay command teaches your dog that they should be briefly left alone. It also benefits them in situations like manners, socialization, calmness, respect issues, and more.
Most of all, it teaches them to be independent because they have to be self-controlled while they are separated from you.
This command is easy to train, especially if your dog knows the “sit” command already.
- Get your dog to sit.
- If they don’t know this, you can get them to sit by holding a treat against their nose and move it back and up above their head.
- Move it gradually so they can smell it and get excited about receiving it.
- Your dog should automatically sit as you move the treat back.
- If they do, say “sit” and give them the treat.
- Then, hold another treat to their nose then slowly move it away from them. If your dog stands up, hide the treat, and get them to sit again.
- Keep luring them with the treat as you move farther away. If they stay still, say the word “stay” so they can associate it with the action.
- Give them a treat for every three steps you move away while they stay sitting.
- Gradually increase the amount of time between treats.
Arrive and Leave Calmly
Another temporary solution to your dog’s over-excitement or anxiety is to arrive and depart the house quietly.
Don’t make your arrival or departure too emotional so they can still behave well. You want to be as boring as possible so that they do not even notice you’re around.
You also want to leave 30 minutes before you usually have to so that your dog does not anticipate the event. This will desensitize your dog to your absence.
When arriving home, make sure to ignore your dog for about 10 minutes if you know they can hold their bladder.
We know this is tough but please don’t acknowledge them or release them from their crate right away. Once it’s time to notice them, keep the interaction calm for another five minutes.
This will help set boundaries and make arrivals and departures easier in the long run.
FAQ Clingy Dog Behavior
Why Does My Dog Always Have to be Touching Me?
If your dog is always touching you, it can be because they are also clingy and wanting affection.
This behavior is normal. As with dogs’ shadowing behavior, touching behavior is also because of their pack mentality. They are social animals who like being in a group for survival.
But too much touching can be a sign of bad behavior or separation anxiety. They behave inappropriately when they notice you’re about to leave by restricting your movement.
Other dogs touch you because this behavior was previously encouraged. They learned that they get attention and playtime whenever they touch you, so they keep doing it.
There are a lot of ways to find out why your dog is always touching you. It’s important to know the possible reasons so you can apply the right solutions to this behavioral issue.
Why is My Elderly Dog Following Me?
As our dogs age, they also develop cognitive dysfunction syndrome or dementia. Their brain degenerates, then they show symptoms like disorientation and changes in sleep routine.
They may also exhibit anxiety behaviors, which is why they are following you more often.
Your senior dog is also prone to developing illnesses and chronic conditions, so they may also be following you because they want to tell you that they are in pain.
If you have one, you should know how to care for an elderly dog so they stay comfortable until the last stage of their life.
Does Crate-Training Help Your Dog Stop Following You?
Dogs with separation anxiety and destructive habits need to be crate-trained for both of your safety.
Aside from reducing destruction in the house, it can also teach them to be independent. Crate-training helps your dog stay calm and happy in their private space as they respect yours.
Crate-train your dog as early as possible and make sure to reward them every time.
Train Your Dog to be Independent
Teaching your dog to be independent is important for them to build their confidence and comfort when their pack is nowhere to be found.
It also gives you peace of mind knowing that they don’t have to follow you everywhere and that they are not being destructive while you are not around.
Many dog owners are having problems with their dogs’ behavior due to a lack of mental stimulation.
Keep your dog mentally stimulated to avoid bad behaviors like chewing, barking, being too clingy, and licking themselves.