Why Does My Dog Follow Me Everywhere?
“My dog follows me everywhere and stares at me” you say to your family, who stare in bewilderment. It might seem strange, but even the simplest query can be completely valid. Perhaps your dog follows you everywhere because they’re trying to tell you something – that they’re ill, or something is wrong, for example. Or, maybe, you’re just curious as to why your dog has such a strong attachment to you.
No matter the reason, we’re here to give you the answers. So, if you’ve ever thought “my puppy follows me everywhere” or found yourself making a new friend that wanders beside you and wondered “why does a dog keep following me?” this is the article for you. Read on, to learn more about this strange and sweet behavior from dogs.
Why Do Dogs Follow You?
Like many things, when it comes to reasons why your dog follows you and stares at you all the time, there are many factors and no “one size fits all” as to why. However, there are some common traits that we humans have figured out over time, through studies or simply through our current understanding of man’s best friend.
- You’re the pack leader
One of the most common reasons as to why your puppy follows you everywhere is simply because they see you as the Alpha of the pack. Because dogs are pack animals, they follow a natural hierarchy and it’s important to set yourself up in their lives as the leader. Otherwise, you can be in for a lot of trouble, later down the line – including issues with aggression, as well as finding that your dog has no interest in listening to your commands.
If your dog is following you around, it could be because they see you as that leader – and, like all good subordinates, they are forever waiting for your next orders. You’ll often find that this dynamic actually makes your dog a lot happier and more comfortable, as they will feel that they know their place in the home and will seek to please. Following you around the home is simply a way of their being ready for their master’s commands.
- You are responsible for training your dog
If you are the one who has trained your puppy from a young age, then your pup will come to recognize that you are the Giver of Food and therefore The Best. It’s also more likely that you will have spent a greater deal of time providing plenty of positive reinforcement – which means your dog is likely to feel good when they are around you!
By following you around, they are showing that they are both attentive to your next command and that they feel happy when they’re around you. They have essentially learned that all of the best things in their life come from you, and therefore seek to be near you whenever possible.
- For comfort and conversation
OK, conversation might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s no secret that dogs are definitely very sociable animals. If you’ve ever felt a nudge in your elbow for a stroke, or found yourself tripping up over your dog when you’re busy, it’s likely that they are simply looking for a bit of attention. Have a chat with your pup and play some games – and you might find that they stop following once they are no longer bored or are all tired out.
Dogs are the only animal – other than humans – to run toward humans when they are scared, anxious or simply pleased to see us. They do this because they trust us innately and completely, and often it’s because they’re seeking comfort with us. Not only do they protect us, but they also see us as protectors of them. Thus, they are always likely to be close.
- Their breed
The breed of your dog can make a huge impact on the level of socialization they require. For this reason, there are some breeds that are considered “Velcro dogs” such as the Labrador retriever, Maltese and German Shepherd. While individual differences will occur between different dogs, you’re more likely to have a very clingy dog that follows you everywhere if they are a Velcro dog.
- Due to curiosity
Dogs are very curious creatures, and it’s no secret that they always want to get their nose into whatever business is going on at the time. If you find that your dog is always jumping up to follow you to the toilet, or from room to room, it could simply be that they are curious as to what is going on.
Dogs do this for the same reason that they like to their nose in your grocery bags, and why they like to scratch at the door when you’re trying to pee. They simply want to know what is going on and don’t want to miss out on anything – especially if these unknown things can lead to finding food or playing a game.
- Their past
If your dog is a rescue, then you may or may not know what has happened in their past. However, rescue dogs are likely to form a much stronger attachment to stable, calm humans who show these pups love that they may or may not have received before. In these cases, your dog may follow you obsessively because they’re scared you will leave their life, or they are so eager to please that they simply refuse to leave your side.
It could also be because they have recognized you as the sole person of trust. Take this as the honor it is intended to be, as it means your dog completely adores you and believes you are the best human they could ever have hoped to meet. However, do remember that some time away from your pup is also healthy for their development – and your sanity, at times.
How Do I Stop My Dog from Following Me Everywhere?
While there are a huge number of benefits to having a dog that loves and trusts you so much that they follow you everywhere, there are times when it is dangerous to be too close (such as when you’re cooking). It can also mean that your dog may suffer from separation anxiety at a much more intense level when you leave – or that they simply become fearful of other humans, which can lead to further negative behaviors. Thus, it’s important to set boundaries with your pup and encourage them to exercise restraint when following you around.
A great way to get your dog to stop following you everywhere is to use particular commands. For some, this may be easier than others. However, persistence and plenty of positive reinforcement will do wonders! Training your dog with commands such as “wait”, for example, will help your dog to learn that you are not leaving forever and will return to the pack as soon as you are able.
Giving a dog a special place, all to themselves is also a big benefit to making your dog feel more comfortable when you aren’t around. Crate training can be a big step, but providing your pup with a place in which they can happily eat treats, play with a Kong or similar toy and sleep in peace will give you both the space you need and help to reduce separation anxiety.
If you feel that your dog is too attached to one person in the house, try not to reinforce their dependence on you. Don’t let your dog sleep in your bed and encourage other family members to play with your pup, feed them and take them on walks. This will allow your pup to form a bond with other household members, while also giving them better social skills for the future. Remember, it won’t weaken the bond you have with your pup – it will simply encourage a stronger bond with other people, which is healthy.
For those who live alone with their dog or aren’t able to get others involved with socialization, there’s no shame in popping your dog in doggy daycare for a few hours at a time. This will help them bond not only with other humans but with other dogs too – all in a safe, controlled environment. Just be sure to research the daycare, and tell the owner/trainer everything you can about your dog’s past.
Playing games from a distance also works wonders when it comes to encouraging your dog to have a little distance between you. Games such as fetch and “find it” can allow your dog to become more confident in moving away from you, as their master, and quickly realize that they can still have fun without being by your side.
This also works wonders on keeping your pup mentally stimulated, which will help them to feel tired at the end of a long day running around and playing games with you. After all, you’ll soon notice that a tired dog is much less likely to jump up and follow you around than a dog who is bored and looking for a little attention or playtime!