One of the most beautiful aspects of the human-canine relationship is the loyalty and love our dogs have for us. Despite this, it is essential to teach your dog to have a minimum of independence. Indeed, an extreme attachment can be harmful to the animal, as for its happy owner. Does your dog follow you everywhere? Find out the six reasons he does this and what you can do about it.
1. He Sees You As The Leader Of His Pack
Dogs are descendants of wolves and are, therefore, used to living in groups. Their life in your family is organized like in a pack, following a particular hierarchy: they normally occupy the last position of the pack, and the head of the family takes the place of dominant alpha. It is the latter who leads the group and ensures its survival.
So, if your dog sticks to you all the time, it may be because he sees you as the leader of the pack – his alpha – and your presence reassures him. He knows that thanks to you, he can be satisfied and that he is safe by your side. And also, he loves you, of course!
2. He Wants To Protect His Territory
A dog well settled in his home may think he has to fight to keep his privileges. Therefore, he will follow his owner everywhere to make sure he can defend his territory in an encounter with another dog.
The dog is a faithful animal. He wouldn’t leave his place for the world and intends to let it be known!
3. He Is Still A Puppy
Puppies tend to follow their new owner everywhere. This behavior is called imprinting. According to expert ethologist Konrad Lorenz, imprinting occurs when a bird attaches itself to the first thing it sees when it hatches. This is why baby geese followed him everywhere if he was the first “object” they saw when they were born.
The same behavior can be applied to puppies, although you probably won’t be the first thing they see after birth. However, the younger your puppy, the more likely he will imprint on you and follow you like your shadow.
4. He Is A Real Velcro Dog
Some breeds, especially those that have been bred for centuries to work with people, are more likely to stick by your side all the time. Here is a short list of purebred dogs known to be just like Velcro:
5. He Comes From A Shelter
Rescuing a dog from a shelter is a wonderful opportunity to give a desperate animal the chance to live in a loving new home. However, a dog coming from these places can sometimes be traumatized, especially if its previous owner has abandoned him. As a result, he can exhibit certain behavioral issues, including excessive attachment to his new owner. Indeed, he will tend to follow his human everywhere since the fear of being abandoned again is still very present.
6. He Suffers From Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a behavioral disorder in dogs that manifests as a state of distress when the animal becomes separated from the person to whom it is excessively attached. Thus, dogs that are overly attached to their owner are usually very anxious about the separation. So, as soon as you go to work or anywhere without your dog, he feels terrible. And when you finally come back home, your dog can’t find another way to communicate his stress to you and follow you everywhere. Besides, this canine behavior is prevalent among those that have been abandoned and then adopted by a new owner.
What Can You Do to Help Your Dog Be More Independent?
1. If Your Dog Is Still a Puppy
Usually, it is easier to correct this behavior problem while your dog is still young. We must therefore act quickly, if possible, upon adoption. Even if they don’t realize it, owners of young dogs sometimes get them used to following by unknowingly adopting positive reinforcement techniques. For example, when a puppy follows its owner to the toilet and the owner has a positive emotion like laughing at such “cute” behavior, it prompts the puppy to start over and continue down this path. For this reason, you must encourage your dog to adopt the right habits as soon as he arrives in your home and reinforce his autonomy.
2. If Your Dog Is an Adult
To begin with, you must put an end to the various rituals you may have put in place with him when you leave or arrive at your home. Thus, it will play down the situation for your dog and possibly mark the beginning of his independence. It is also recommended to close the doors from time to time so that your dog does not follow you into a room and understands that he should not follow you to every corner of the house. As you go, you may try to order your dog to go to his bed or remain seated rather than close the doors.
However, be careful not to rush your dog around so that he stops following you around. Indeed, it will take more or less time, depending on the age and habits of your pooch.
What You Shouldn’t Do if Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
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If your dog is following you like a second shadow, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It could simply be because he has a strong attachment to you! Besides, if he is calm and does not destroy the whole house when you leave him alone for a few hours, the fact that he follows you everywhere is probably not a problem. On the other hand, this behavior can become problematic in some dogs and depends mainly on factors such as age, breed, antecedents (whether it was adopted or not), and training. In any case, if your dog’s separation anxiety is extreme, you should consult a veterinarian or canine behavior expert, who can guide you towards the best approach to solving this problem.
You may also want to read:
- Why Do Dogs Like to Sleep Curled Up? Here’s the Answer!
- Do Dogs Like Being Picked Up or Held? What You Need to Know!
Featured Image Credit: nokturn, Shutterstock