I’m always telling other fellow dog owners that I have two shadows. One shadow is mine and the other is my dog. In fact, I think my dog sticks to me closer than my shadow.
Not gonna lie, I have a rather needy dog but it is a non-intrusive kind of needy. He knows that I’m not a fan of him getting in my face all the time so he will always be around. Sometimes even peeping from behind a door or wall.
But what if you have a dog that borders on being excessively clingy which can make going about the day difficult? Why won’t your dog leave you alone?
Dogs are pack animals and have a tendency to want to stick to their owner. Having a dog that is close and bonded to you is amazing but it is unhealthy when your dog starts to prevent you from leaving the house or exhibiting other negative behaviors just because it can’t get close to you.
In this article, we will be looking at the reasons that make your dog want to be with you all the time and what you can do if things start to get too stifling.
Why Are Dogs So Clingy?
If you have a dog and cat like me, the difference in neediness between the two animals is like night and day. I know my cat loves me to bits but I can’t say with confidence that I’m one of the top 3 on his priority list.
It is a whole different world with my dog. I am his everything and he is rather lost without me around. My doggie boy just loves laying on me or beside me all the time if gets the opportunity.
This wide difference in neediness stems from the way cats and dogs are in the wild.
Cats are solitary animals and will spend the majority of their lives alone. The only time they will seek out another cat is when it is time to mate.
Otherwise, they are pretty much left to fend on their own after they leave their kitten nest at 12-15 weeks of age.
Dogs on the other hand are social animals due to their pack nature. This means that they will form a bond with other dogs and stick together for as long as possible. They will sleep, hunt, eat and move about together.
Within this pack, there will be a pack leader of alpha dog which the rest will listen and look up to.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule with cats behaving like dogs and vice versa.
Now that we have a better understanding of a dog’s nature, here are some reasons that explain why your dog won’t leave you alone.
1. The Breed Of Your Dog
There are about 199 different dog breeds that are currently recognized by the American Kennel Club and this number will only get bigger.
Even though dogs in general are clingy pets, there are some dog breeds that are just more clingy that the rest.
If you are planning to get a dog of a specific breed, then it is best to do as much research as possible on the neediness level of that breed.
It is only fair to your future dog that you are capable of meeting the level of attention that it needs.
There are many dog breeds that are known to be clingy:
- Golden Retriever
- French Bulldog
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Border Collie
And on the other end of the spectrum we have:
- Chow Chow
- Great Dane
- Jack Russell
- Afghan Hound
All the above breeds are just guidelines as the dog’s lineage and personality play a big part too.
2. Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Dogs that are experiencing separation anxiety can exhibit very clingy behavior towards their owners as well. These dogs can scratch in their crates at night just because they can’t see their owners. The searching sound can be very disturbing for those trying to sleep.
These dogs will try to prevent their owners from leaving home, get agitated and restless when the owners are getting ready to go out as well as exhibit moody and destructive behavior when left alone.
Scientists are still not very sure what can trigger separation anxiety in dogs. But the usual suspects are:
- Being abandoned before
- Change in the dog’s schedule
- Being left alone for long periods of time
If you have a dog that has separation anxiety, you might see it get very clingy towards you when you are about to leave home. Our dogs are smart to realize when we are getting ready to go out.
Some dogs are so anxious that they start to chase after the owner’s car as they leave. This is very dangerous behavior and needs to be addressed ASAP before the dog gets into an accident.
3. Your Dog Is Adjusting To Its Home
Did you just bring your dog home from the shelter or breeder? If you did, you can expect your dog to be sticking like glue to you for the time being.
A change in a dog’s environment can trigger a sense of insecurity and discomfort in the dog. And your dog will be eager to keep close to its new owner to feel safe and comforted.
If you have a new dog at home, be sure to take note of the ‘3-3-3’ rule.
This is what it means:
- 3 days of feeling overwhelmed and nervous
- 3 weeks of slowly starting to settle in
- 3 months of building a bond with you
It will take about 3 months for a brand new dog to settle in nicely in its new home and build an everlasting bond with its family.
The dog will show some attention-seeking behavior as it is trying to settle in. Make sure to give your dog a lot of attention, love and care during this period to make the process a lot more manageable for your dog.
4. Your Dog Has PTSD
As humans, we can be mentally and emotionally scarred by traumatic events in our lives. The same thing can happen to our dogs which can be termed as post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
A dog with PTSD will have triggers that can set off a large degree of fear and anxiety in your dog’s behavior. This can be due to loud noises, a familiar smell or something that it sees. If you adopted a dog that was once hit by a broom, the poor dog can develop a fear of brooms later in life.
When triggered, it can turn your dog into a very needy and clingy pooch. It will want to stay close to you as it’s feeling scared.
5. Your Dog Is Still A Puppy
If you have a puppy at home, it is going to be a lot more different than having an adult dog at home. It is during this stage of a dog’s life when it will be at its neediest.
Puppies depend a lot on their mother for everything and in the absence of the mother dog, it is up to you to fill those large shoes.
Think of having a puppy as a newborn baby who is unable to fend and tend to itself. It has to depend entirely on the parents to survive.
Puppies need attentive care around the clock especially when it comes to feeding times and toilet breaks.
Be prepared for your little puppy to not leave you alone until it gets about 12 weeks of age. That is when dogs start to get more independent.
How Do I Get My Dog To Leave Me Alone?
Having a clingy dog isn’t a bad thing. I do love it when my dog wants to get all needy and affectionate with me.
Research has shown that puppies who have an accompanying parent to tag along with, grow up with a relaxed and assured demeanor, without the worry of being abandoned.
But such clingy behavior can be problematic when your big dog jumps on you or starts whining all night long because you don’t allow it in your bedroom.
It can be very disruptive to your life and schedule when your dog’s clinginess gets out of hand.
Here are some methods which you can use to help to bring it down a notch or two.
Give Your Dog A Lot Of Mental Stimulation
As much as it is important to give your dog as much exercise that it needs, many dog owners tend to forget that mental stimulation is also very important for their dogs.
In fact, mentally stimulating your dog can even be more demanding on its body than going for a long walk.
You don’t need to teach your dog how to solve math problems to stimulate its brain. Here are some good ways to get your dog’s noggin working.
- Teach new commands
- Interactive dog toys
- Play hide and seek
- Let it work for its food
- Make an obstacle course at home
By tiring out your dog mentally, what you will have is a tired dog who is too exhausted to even bother you now.
In fact, it would rather you not bother it and let it rest.
Stop Reinforcing Its Behavior
You might not realize this, but you could be unknowingly reinforcing your dog’s needy behavior too frequently.
This can be in the form of giving your dog attention and affection whenever it starts to follow you. I understand that this is such a natural reflex action for many of us but by doing so, you are reinforcing your dog’s neediness.
Your dog now feels that the more it follows you around the house, the more attention it will get.
You can start to ignore your dog when it does so or give it a command to go to its play spot. After some time, your smart dog will start to get the hint.
Train your Dog To Ask For Affection Politely
This ties in with the above method and is one that you can start to use if you have a dog that’s too hyper when it wants attention.
Not everyone is a fan of a dog that jumps, humps and barks when it wants some loving, especially if there are seniors or young kids around.
In a nutshell, the right way to train your dog is to ignore any hyper behavior from your dog and only reward it when it is quiet or demonstrates an action that has your approval.
Divert Your Dog’s Attention
There are some dogs that need are just very hyper and need a lot of attention from their owners. If you have such a dog, it might not be possible to spend the whole day playing with your dog.
When your dog starts to follow you around the house and won’t leave you alone, try to divert its attention with a toy that it loves.
Give it something that can divert your dog’s attention away from you. I would advise against giving your dog treats all the time as a distraction as that can make your dog gain unnecessary weight.
Another great way to divert your dog’s attention is with another dog. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea to have more than one dog but if you can arrange for more playtime with another neighbor’s dog, that would work as well.
See A Dog Behaviorist
Despite your best efforts, your dog might be too entrenched in its needy behavior. For such dogs, it would be best to bring your dog to see a dog behaviorist.
A dog behaviorist will be able to quickly identify the problem spots and help you and your dog manage the issue at hand.
Why Is My Dog So Attached To Me All Of A Sudden?
It might come as a surprise to female dog owners, that many dogs are able to detect early pregnancy in women. Even a lot earlier before the symptoms start showing.
Although there isn’t much research to back this up, many scientists believe that dogs are able to detect hormonal changes in pregnant women due to their acute sense of smell.
Given that your dog’s sense of smell could be up to 100,000x more sensitive than a human’s, it is not difficult to believe that dogs are capable of such a feat.
I guess congratulations are in order?
It might sound rather gross but many dogs are also obsessed with belly buttons due to the smell from that area. So if you don’t want your dog licking your belly button, keep it clean.
What Is Velcro Dog Syndrome?
Velcro dog syndrome is used to describe a dog that is super clingy toward its owner. It feels like you have velcroed your dog to your body because where ever you go, your dog is just here next to you.
Velcro dogs want to be as close as possible to their owners but it might be a one-way street.