Understanding dog behavior is not only interesting but helpful in day-to-day life. We always ask, “why do dogs always follow you?” Some may stick with their owner from room to room, and others may be at humans’ feet constantly, despite the person.
This behavior may be annoying, concerning, or even interesting for some. So today, we are going to explore the reasons why this behavior occurs and what factors influence it. As not every dog does this, we want to explain why your dog is one of those who attempt to be your shadow! Let’s dive into why dogs follow people.
Why Does My Dog Always Follow Me?
Dogs have different reasons why they keep on following you everywhere you go. It can be as simple as they want a companion or are hungry. Since dogs are more inclusive than other animals, it may be unusual to be alone.
Dogs can be following you because you are the one feeding them every day. Perhaps, they also need something other than food. If your dog follows you everywhere suddenly, there can be a deeper reason than feeding or peeing.
History of Dogs and Humans
Dogs are known as man’s best friends for a reason. Dogs were domesticated thousands of years ago and molded into separate breeds through selective breeding. One of the dogs’ main purposes is to be companions for humans. They are our family, teammates, and even colleagues for varying tasks.
Therefore, the majority of dog breeds are naturally disposed to bond with humans and look for their company, as if dogs see us as their parents. They develop bonds quickly in order to help with the tasks that they have been bred for. Whether it be search and rescue, hunting, or just at home laughter and cuddles, having a relationship with us brings benefits.
Reasons Why Your Dog Follows You
We have summarized the main reasons for your dog following you and explained them below.
Dogs learn best through positive reinforcement. If your dog follows you on one occasion for food or a toy and you praise them for doing so, they may continue this behavior. A positive association increases the behavior frequency. So if your dog has received a treat, verbal, or physical praise after following you, then this may become a habit.
Every dog is different, and some are more predisposed to wanting your attention or companionship. Some demand to be stroked or have eye contact made to be properly acknowledged. Others simply want your presence near them. The bond you have developed with them leads to a sense of trust and comfort for your dog. When you are gone, they may lose this feeling and become anxious and stressed.
Some dog breeds are naturally more desperate for attention, prefer to be in the company of humans, or do not feel comfortable being alone. If your dog is of a breed that commonly has one of these traits, then one of the most frequent solutions that a dog will find is to try to seek out your company. Every breed and individual is different, but certain traits are more common in each breed. Herding breeds, such as Shelties and Border Collies, are prone to following their owners around.
Separation anxiety can develop for a number of different reasons, including trauma, common human presence, lack of training, lack of socialization, and many others. This condition brings a dog great discomfort when they are left alone or left separate from their owner. Therefore, they will try to prevent separation at any cost, in this case following you.
There is no denying that dogs love activities and stimulation. They will easily get bored if they stay at home without any indoor activities, leading to a continuous following of people around the house. Dogs that keep following their owners can be looking for something to do, whether physical or mental stimulation.
Worried or Scared
Dogs have two usual reactions when scared – either they will hide or keep on following you everywhere. If there are loud noises, such as thunderstorms or firecrackers, your dog may suddenly get more attached to you. Following you around can help them feel safe and calm. It is best to sit beside your dog, play, or just cuddle during this situation.
Often, dogs follow their owners around because they want some attention. Perhaps, they received the same kind of attention before, and they want it again. If following you leads to playtime, petting, or free treats, your dog will see it as a good way to get a reward. Shadowing behavior is not good if it becomes excessive. It can be dangerous and even annoying.
A dog suddenly following you can signify that they need something from you. Sometimes, dogs may need to pee or walk outside. If you have not fed your dog, it may also be the reason why. If none of these satisfy your dog, it must be communicating something more to you. Try to follow your dog back and see what it is trying to tell you. A sick dog may also begin following you, so pay close attention.
Dogs are naturally curious animals and they love to know what you are up to. If your dog keeps on following you, it may just be curious about what is currently happening and wants to literally stick its nose on whatever it is. There is nothing to worry about when it comes to this behavior as it is just normal for dogs.
Differences Between Dog Breeds
Whether you have worries about your current dog or evaluating different breed traits, we want to explain about those more prone to following their owners. Herding breeds and toy breeds are often much more attached to following their owners. This is because herding dogs are working dogs. This means they are to follow humans’ orders very precisely, like some variations of hunting dogs as well. Toy breeds are companion breeds, those selectively bred to be more attached to humans and want to form a strong bond with them. This is a wonderful trait to ensure our dogs love us, but can work against us in terms of being followed.
How to Stop Your Dog From Following You Around
It is sweet and heart-warming to see that your dog loves to follow you around the house. However, it can lead to negative behaviors and untoward incidents if it becomes too much. If you do not want your dog to keep following you, here are the things you can do.
Make Sure Their Needs Are Met
Since unmet needs can lead to shadowing behavior, make sure to provide for your dogs’ needs at a proper amount. Give them enough cuddle time, enough food to eat, and enough potty time. If your dog’s basic needs are met, the possibility of them moping around is less.
Keep Your Dog Busy
Try to keep your dog busy so that they will not also disturb you. You may give them a toy to play with or a chew toy that can last for hours. If your dog easily gets bored with a toy, try giving just one, then provide a different toy the following day. Keep away the toys so that they will not lose their excitement.
House Train Your Dog
Training your dog with some basic commands can help control its behavior. If they suddenly follow you all around the house, you can use the command “stay” or “sit” to make them stop. Encouraging your dog to have alone time can also help prevent anxiety.
Give Your Dog Enough Attention
Too much and not enough attention are both not good for your dog. Let them know when it is time to play, cuddle, or be on your own. In this way, you are teaching your dog independence which helps prevent separation anxiety. However, insufficient attention can make your dog feel lonely and neglected, leading to physical illnesses.
Do Some Physical and Mental Exercises
Enough physical and mental exercises can help your dog in many ways. As they exercise, they will use up their excess energy. They will not have enough energy to follow you around when they get home. Long walks, puzzle feeding, and frisbee are some of the activities you can do with your dog.
Enroll Your Dog in a Professional Confidence and Behavior Training
If you cannot solve the problem anymore, asking for help from professional trainers will do the trick. You can enroll your dog in confidence training to help get rid of their fears and anxiety. Behavior training can help with their obedience and overall health.
Why Do Dogs Always Follow You – FAQs
Have some more questions on the subject? Let us help.
The behavior in itself is not inherently bad, however, it can be a sign of both anxiety and separation anxiety in particular. These behaviors need help as they can mentally and physically damage your dog, as well as generally make them unhappy day to day.
This depends on the individual. Some breeds are more likely to bond to one person as opposed to a family, such as a Chihuahua. Others may be more nervous and therefore feel comfort only bonding to one person very strongly. Monitor your dog for behavior to demonstrate trust, such as sleeping near certain people. You can also assess which human they actively try to interact with the most, who do they try to bring toys to the most, for example.
Dogs do feel jealousy according to a study by Harris and Prouvost (2014). It can be a difficult emotion to assess as there are many other behavioral explanations for common dog behaviors instead of it being straightforward jealousy. Dog behaviorists are much more adept at diagnosing the cause of your dog’s behavior. Jealousy of humans and dogs can exist in dogs, and jealousy can exist in past relationships too. Jealousy of food, toys, and even beds has been believed to occur in dog behavior.
This can be a form of affection or an attempt to grab your attention. If your dog is after some of the food you are eating, then they may follow you as you prepare it and then stare at you during dinner time. However, they may be simply staring at you lovingly because of the bond you two share. Looking at your dog’s other behavior can help you figure out which it is. Seeing when and how often they stare at you may allow you to pick out a common theme, such as they do so whenever you are holding a dog lead.
Puppies will follow you everywhere if they want to play with you, enjoy your attention, or simply show that they love you. However, a shadowing puppy can cause concern if they are from a traumatic owner or shelter. Make sure to know the difference between safe and concerning shadowing behavior.
Herding breeds, guard dogs, and velcro dogs are most likely to follow people. Domestic dogs, such as Golden Retriever, Shih Tzu, Corgi, and Labrador Retriever, are some of the dog breeds that love to follow their owners around.
Your elderly dog may have been following you because of habit and familiarity. If this is a new behavior, it may indicate that your senior dog is experiencing some changes in its body. It can make them feel scared, less confident, and anxious. Losing their vision or hearing can be the usual sign.
To answer why your dog always follows you, specific knowledge of the individual is necessary. However, hopefully, we have provided you with the information to help piece the clues together. If you have any concerns, be sure to contact a vet or a behaviorist to help understand your dog!