Loyalty is a valued trait in dogs, but is your pup seeming a bit… too obsessed with you? If Fido refuses to leave your side and feels distressed wherever you’re gone, you may have what’s known as a “velcro dog.”
While your dog’s clinginess can feel flattering and endearing, it can also be frustrating and concerning. Read on for some common reasons for clingy dog behavior, and how to address it.
Reasons for Clingy Dog Behavior
Dogs are pack animals, so they instinctively enjoy companionship. It’s expected that your canine craves some level of closeness with you—dogs are man’s best friend, after all—but he shouldn’t be sticking to your side at all times.
If your pooch just won’t leave you alone, his behavior may be due to:
Your pooch trusts you, and his clinginess may be his way of seeking stability during times of stress, such as changes in routine or being unfamiliar settings.
Did you know that pets can pick up on our emotions? If you’re stressed or anxious, your dog may also start to feel the same way; similarly, if he’s not sure how to react in a situation, he’ll look to you as a guide.
Separation anxiety can also cause clinginess, especially when you’re right about to leave the house. It’s worth noting that separation anxiety is a bit different from general clinginess, though; a dog with separation anxiety is typically fine being independent until he notices that you’re about to leave.
If your dog is feeling vulnerable, he may stay close to you for an added sense of security.
Clinginess is especially common in senior dogs, especially when losing vision or hearing. As your dog’s world becomes less familiar, he’ll stay close to you as a source of comfort and familiarity.
Clinginess or neediness can also be signs of other health issues, so it’s a good idea to talk to your vet to rule out anything serious.
Sometimes, clinginess is simply a learned behavior or a bad habit that your dog needs to unlearn. For example, if his clinginess is often rewarded with treats and cuddles, why would he want to change his behavior?
Your dog could also become clingy if he isn’t properly socialized, or if you take him everywhere with you. It’s important that he learns how to be comfortable and confident both on his own and with other people and pets.
Some dogs simply don’t want to miss out on any potential fun—even if you’re just getting up to use the bathroom! This is especially common in young, impressionable puppies who just want to learn from you.
Some dogs are simply more prone to clinginess than others due to their breed. Lapdogs tend to be particularly clingy, as are working dogs who are trained to be dependent on their owner.
Helping Your Dog Be Less Clingy
Even if you love your dog’s extreme closeness, excessively clingy behavior isn’t good for his well-being. You want your dog to be confident and independent; time spent with you should be fun and enjoyable, but not absolutely necessary at all times in order for him to feel comfortable.
How you help your dog become less clingy depends on the reason behind his clinginess. For example, if his behavior is the result of a health issue, more training isn’t going to resolve the issue.
That said, there are a few steps you can take. For example:
Talk to your vet to address any underlying health issues.
Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise. If you wear him out, he’s bound to be less interested in following you around!
Keep your dog busy and entertained with plenty of mental stimulation.
Give your dog a designated space (crate training, for example) where he can feel comfortable and confident being alone.
Desensitize your dog to your movements so he doesn’t react every time you get up or grab your keys. For example, go into the kitchen (or wherever his food bowl is) and start cleaning the kitchen rather than filling his bowl, or grab your keys and then turn on the TV. That way, he’ll eventually learn that he doesn’t need to get up or even react every time.
Sometimes, new clingy behavior is simply a request for attention. If your dog has recently started clinging to your side, do a quick check to make sure he’s not trying to tell you something. For example, check that there’s nothing stuck in his paw or that you remembered to feed him, and see if that resolves the issue.
Additionally, try to keep your home environment as calm and stress-free as possible to reduce anxiety. For pups who are prone to anxious behavior, PetHonesty’s Premium Hemp Calming Chews feature naturally calming ingredients such as melatonin, chamomile, and valerian root to reduce stress and anxiety.