You couldn't ask for a more loyal dog. Wherever you go, your canine companion is sure to follow close behind. It's endearing - but it can also be concerning. It might be indicative of an underlying problem, such as separation anxiety. Not to mention the fact that your pup can inadvertently get in the way if you're not careful. So why does your dog follow you everywhere? Here are some reasons, and what you can do if it gets to be too much.
Positive Reasons for Your Dog Following You Everywhere
Dogs are pack animals. They crave companionship. As a pet parent, your pup might see you as the leader of the pack. And if you adopted your dog when he was just a puppy, he might have imprinted on you, as if you were his mother, which means he’ll look to you for nurturing and protection.
It might also be a case of positive reinforcement. If you’re always giving your pup pets, cuddles, and treats, then he might start following you around more to reap the benefits.
It can be a good thing. As your dog follows you, it strengthens your bond. The closeness helps him get to know your tone and body language more over time, so he can respond better to your commands and even anticipate your needs. It also gives you more opportunity for physical exercise as you walk him and play with him. And it provides you both with love and companionship, reducing anxiety and staving off loneliness.
Negative Reasons for Your Dog Following You Everywhere
But your dog constantly following you around isn't always a good thing. If there's just one person in the family that your dog interacts with, to the point of shunning everyone else, that could be a problem. Similarly, if your dog doesn't react well to strangers, it could mean that he hasn’t been socialized properly. If he came from a previous parent, it might also be an indication of some trauma in his past.
These social problems, if left unchecked, can lead to separation anxiety. Your pup might become aggressive whenever you're not nearby or lash out at strangers who get too close. When you're not at home, his anxiety might cause him to urinate or defecate in the house, even if he’s been house trained. It might also lead him to try to escape, resulting in damage to doors, windows, and other potential exit points.
What to Do if Your Dog Follows You Everywhere
If you spot the signs of poor socialization in your dog, there are ways to nip it in the bud before it becomes too much of a problem. You can start by using positive reinforcement to your advantage. Expose your dog to other people in a controlled environment. Have a friend come over and let them give your dog a treat any time they interact with him. Over time, they'll come to trust others more, and won't be as dependent on you.
You can also give them something to do whenever you go out without him, such as play with an interactive toy. This will keep him from getting too anxious whenever you're not around.
Having your dog follow you can be great, as long as it's for the right reasons. Make sure he’s not getting anxious or depressed, is able to socialize with others, and that his closeness isn't invasive or destructive. As long as that's the case, then the bond between you and your dog can be a wonderful thing, making you both happier and healthier for as long as you're together.