Understanding dog behavior is not only interesting but helpful in day-to-day life. One question we are often asked is “why do dogs always follow you?” Some may stick with their owner from room to room, others may be at humans’ feet constantly, despite the person.
This behavior may be annoying for some, concerning, or even just interesting. 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.
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 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. 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.
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.
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.
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 most commonly. 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, it may be that they are simply staring at you lovingly because of the bond you two share. Looking at other behavior from your dog h=can help you to 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.
To answer why your dog always follows you, specific knowledge of the individual would be needed. 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!