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Why Does My Dog Follow Me Everywhere? 6 Reasons for This Behavior

Genevieve Dugal

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.

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1. He Sees You As The Leader Of His Pack

chinook dog licking face
Image Credit: Holisticdogtraining, Pixabay

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

EngAm Bulldog in Forest
Image Credit: Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho, Unsplash

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

Mini Labradoodle dog
Image Credit: jadimages, Shutterstock

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

brown dog with amber eyes
Image Credit: Vizslafotozas, Pixabay

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

Glen of Imaal Terrier dog standing on grass
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay

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

Dog Anxiety
Image credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

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.

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What Can You Do to Help Your Dog Be More Independent?

1. If Your Dog Is Still a Puppy

labradoodle puppy with dog bowl
Image Credit: litthouse, Pixabay

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.

  • Make your departures and returns a normal occurrence. That will teach your puppy to be confident in his ability to be alone. For example, take a shower, take a mini walk in your backyard, or do something else to let your pup know that not being with you for a few minutes doesn’t matter. Also, if you give your puppy something delicious to snack on while you’re gone, he may even be eager to see you go!
  • Progress gradually. Start by leaving your puppy alone for 5 minutes and then gradually go away for 10, then 30 minutes, until he agrees without flinching to be alone for an hour. However, be careful not to go too fast.
  • Use toys or other distractions. Leave your puppy in a safe place, where he feels good and with something to occupy while you are away. Use a Kong-type toy filled with mouth-watering food, leave the television on, plug in the radio; your puppy will then feel more reassured.

2. If Your Dog Is an Adult

Labrador Retriever at a Dog show
Image Credit: HarryStueber, Pixabay

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

woman playing with dog in the streets
Image Credit: Zigmars Berzins, Pixabay
  • Go away without your dog realizing it. In doing so, you are “lying” to your dog, and like in any relationship, lies break trust. This may also increase your dog’s over-vigilance.
  • Get angry when you come home or punish your dog. Remember that your dog can have a panic attack and lose control when you are away. Threatening him will only increase his stress, as he may associate your return with a negative emotion like fear. He won’t understand your anger either.
  • Adopt another dog. This is a double-edged sword, as you can end up with no longer one but two dogs suffering from anxiety, plus it doesn’t guarantee that it will help your already suffering companion.
  • Leave your dog alone longer than he can handle. It will be impossible to learn to cope well if the dog’s tolerance threshold is never respected.
  • Use an anti-bark collar (such as citronella collar, electric, or vibration collar). Hiding a symptom doesn’t cure anxiety. In addition, your dog is at risk of self-harm.

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Final Thought

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.


Featured Image Credit: nokturn, Shutterstock

Genevieve Dugal

Genevieve is a biologist and science writer. Her deep love for capuchin monkeys, pumas, and kangaroos has taken her worldwide to work and volunteer for several wildlife rehabilitation centers in Bolivia, Guatemala, Canada, and Australia. As a Canadian expat, Genevieve now lives in Argentina, where she wakes up every morning to horses and cows saying hello from the vast plain next to her home office window. She is the proud mom of three rescued dogs, Lemmy, Nala, and Pochi, and a frisky kitten, Furiosa. Having the privilege of sharing her knowledge and passion for animals of all kinds is what makes her fulfilled and happy.