Dog owners often feel as though their dogs are stalking them. Dogs follow their owners from room to room, and they always look up when the owner stands up or moves. In part, this is normal canine behavior, but sometimes it can be a symptom of anxiety or protection.
Read on to learn what it means when your dog follows you, when it becomes a problem, and what you can do about it.
Reasons That a Dog May Follow You
People who have dogs love the way that they usually follow them from room to room. When you are cooking in the kitchen, the dog finds a spot to lay down. Then, you move to the family room, and the dog is there alongside you.
There are a number of different reasons for this behavior, and it helps to understand it.
1 – Companionship
Companionship is the primary reason that dogs want to be near their owners. Many years ago, dogs were bred and used for chores on the farm, among other things.
There were always some that were domestic pets, but many breeds were bred to work, guard, and protect people. Many of those breeds still have characteristics associated with their former jobs.
Over the years, people have bred dogs to be companions. They have matched sires and dames with desirable traits for companionship, and the end result is that many dogs today are bred to be human companions.
As a result, dogs bond with their humans much more easily than they did in the past, and they have come to be dependent on their owners. Much like children, they want to be where the rest of the family is.
2 – Breed Characteristics
Depending on the breed of dog you own, your dog may have breed characteristics that cause it to follow you around. Herding breeds, such as corgis and collies, will want to keep everyone together, and guard dogs, such as German shepherds or chow chows will want to protect you.
3 – Needs
Your dog may need to go to the bathroom, or it may not be feeling well. Sometimes your dog will follow you around because it needs something. You may notice the dog panting a lot and standing and looking nervous if this is the case.
4 – Training
If you have spent a lot of time training your dog and reinforcing good behavior with treats, it may simply be ingrained in your dog that it should follow you around.
5 – Boredom
If your dog hasn’t been out running around in the yard, it may become bored. Dogs need stimulation just as people do, so you can solve this by taking your dog out for a long walk or playing a game of fetch.
6 – Anxiety
Sometimes a dog feels anxiety when it’s alone. Maybe the dog is scared of a storm that is coming, or maybe it has been attacked by another dog in the past.
You will notice this because the dog will not take its eyes off you and will pace back and forth. Sometimes they even shake with fear.
How to Know When Your Dog Following You Everywhere Is a Problem
When your dog is relaxed and follows you into a room and then finds a spot to rest, this is normal behavior that is likely caused by a desire for companionship or a bond with you.
There is nothing wrong or abnormal about this behavior; in fact, it’s one of the most endearing aspects of canine behavior.
However, you should learn how to distinguish between other types of following behavior because you may be able to train your dog or help it if there is a problem. If your dog is afraid of being alone, it is important to get to the root of the problem and help your dog gain confidence.
One test you can perform is to put up a baby gate, and leave your dog in a room separate from you to see how it reacts. If your dog settles down and finds a place to relax after a few minutes, then you can have confidence that the following behavior is a result of its desire for your company.
If your dog gets upset and paces, barks, and tries to get out for an extended period of time, it’s time to do some training or figure out what is wrong.
How to Manage a Dog That Is Suddenly Following You Everywhere
If your dog is suddenly following you around and this behavior is new, there is probably a reason. It is important to determine the reason because your dog may be trying to communicate with you that something is wrong.
Take a look at the following reasons and what to do about them.
1 – It Could Be a Sign of a Medical Problem
If your dog has suddenly changed its behavior and is clinging to you, it could be a sign of a medical issue. Domesticated dogs rely on their humans to take care of them, so when something doesn’t feel right, they will cling to your side.
It’s their way of telling you that something is wrong. You may want to call your veterinarian to discuss the behavior and take your dog in for a wellness checkup just to be safe.
2 – Old Age
As dogs grow older, they take comfort being nearer to their owners. They are aware of it as their bodies start to slow down, and they may not see or hear as well.
Usually this doesn’t cause sudden clinginess; it will happen gradually over time. If your dog is older, it may just feel more comfortable being near you.
3 – Fear or Anxiety
There are a lot of different triggers for fear and stress in a dog. Some dogs are afraid of storms, and they will practically panic when they sense that one is coming. They may freeze and shake, and they may literally stay on top of you until the storm passes.
You can try different things such as a thunder jacket or making sure the dog is inside with the TV or the stereo turned up.
In addition, dogs may get nervous when a new pet moves into the home. The only way to work on this is to introduce the dog to the new pet and give it some time.
If you observe your dog, you will be able to determine what is causing the anxiety and teach your dog that it is okay or help the dog get through it.
4 – Insecurity
This may seem similar to fear and anxiety, but it is different. Dogs may become insecure when they aren’t sure what their place is in the home. This can happen when you bring home a new baby from the hospital or adopt a new pet.
In times such as this, the best thing you can do is to help your dog to feel more confident. Have a schedule so that your dog realizes that nothing has changed.
5 – Hormones
If your female dog is not spayed, you may find that she is clingy when she goes into heat. This type of sudden following will end when the dog goes out of heat, but it may happen every heat cycle.
You might consider spaying your dog to prevent this kind of clinginess.
6 – Schedule Changes
Dogs become very schedule-oriented, and when you suddenly change the schedule, they notice. If your dog is used to having breakfast at 7:00 every morning, and suddenly the time has changed, this can make the dog follow you around. If the interrupted schedule continues for a few days, the dog may become clingier.
Dogs thrive on knowing what to expect, so the sooner you get back to the schedule, the sooner your dog will relax and stop following you around.
Dogs are man’s best friends, and the relationship goes both ways. Over time, dogs have transformed from animals with specific roles to pets and companions. Today, dogs are a part of the family, and they have needs that are similar to those of young children.
They like to know when they will eat, when they will go outside, and when they can go to the bathroom. The more consistently you follow a schedule, the more secure your dog will be.
If your dog is suddenly following you around, it is worth your while to try to determine why. Your dog could be trying to tell you that something is wrong, or your dog may just need reassurance that a new baby or pet isn’t there to take its place. If your dog is older, it may be worth a trip to the vet to make sure everything is okay.
If your dog looks afraid, there could be something new in the environment that is distressing. If you pay attention, you will be able to figure it out, and you can help your dog feel comfortable again.