Do you have a “Velcro dog” that never leaves your side? Or one that likes to follow you around, but only some of the time? Either way, this behavior has a purpose. You may love it when your dog sticks to you like glue, but the overly clingy behavior can also annoy you at times. Do you know why your dog does this, though? Here are 5 reasons why dogs follow their humans everywhere they go.
We might be the only company our dog has on a day to day basis, which means we are their primary focus. Because we share such a close relationship with them, our dogs crave our companionship and our attention. As dogs became domesticated, their connection to the humans in their lives became a central focus for them. While we may have many different levels of connections and interactions with people at work, school or in social activities, our dogs see us as the center of their world. And they just really love being around us. This bond and companionship becomes an important part of our life and daily routine as well. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a canine companion follow us around and make us feel needed and loved.
Follow the Leader
Not only do our dogs learn from direct training, they 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, or who is the softy when it comes to getting more of those CANIDAE treats she loves . Your dog follows you because she doesn’t want to miss out on any special activities or food opportunities!
If one person is more the caregiver of the dog, it stands to reason that she may bond more closely with them. Our behaviors reinforce learning and influence the way your dog follows. Like a child who knows exactly which adult to butter up in order to get what they want, our dogs have similar motives.
Dogs imprint on and bond with the people they connect to most closely. That may be even more pronounced if you adopted the dog as a puppy. If you watch how a human toddler follows a parent around, you may see that your dog exhibits some of the same behavior. Your dog will beg for your attention, follow you so closely that you sometimes trip over her, whine when you go out of reach (behind a closed door, for example) or attempt to interrupt whatever you are doing to get attention. If you’ve ever had a dog bump your hand off the computer keyboard when you are working in order to get you to pet her, you have experienced one such attention seeking behavior.
Doesn’t Want You to Leave
The more your dog follows you around and observes every move you make, the more she will understand you. Dogs learn to understand our emotional states at their level of comprehension. Through repetition, your dog will learn that actions and body language may mean something specific. For instance, if you follow a morning routine before you leave for work every day, your dog will learn to associate certain behaviors with the fact that you will soon be leaving. You may find that your dog clings more closely when she realizes you are preparing to leave, once she has learned the signs of pending departure.
Like children, dogs are naturally curious about everything. Your dog may follow you to find out what is going on, because she doesn’t want to miss out on anything. Interactions with our dogs are a constant voyage of discovery for both of us. At times, that over-attentive curiosity may make you develop a sudden tic in your eye out of annoyance. Such as when you are trying to unpack a grocery bag and your dog just has to have her nose right where you are working, thereby blocking you from getting the task done. It seems she simply has to know what is going on.
If your dog’s following behavior is too extreme and obsessive, there may be other issues. Your dog may not be completely comfortable around others if she has only been around you. Or she may have come from a home where she was neglected and fears being alone. You have to earn your dog’s trust.
As you live with and learn about your dog, you may find that she follows you more when she is nervous, afraid, ill or in pain. As her primary caregiver, you are the one who is most in tune with any out of the norm behavior. We learn to understand our dog’s cues and they learn ours, whether subtle or direct. They learn to anticipate based on their constant interactions with us, even when it is an unwanted interaction. If your dog’s separation anxiety is too extreme, talk to your vet or a professional trainer about ways to alter or minimize it.
Having a dog that follows you around can be a loving experience. It can even provide countless humorous or endearing tales to share with others. Think of your dog following you as a compliment; it shows her love and trust in you as her favorite companion.