Why Does My Dog Follow Me?
Estimated Read Time: 6 ½ minutes
Summary: In this blog, we learn: “why do dogs follow you everywhere!?” We’ll find out what the reasons are behind dogs following you and where the natural urge to follow comes from. Read on to find out more about why your dog may be following you…
Why Does My Dog Follow Me Everywhere?
If you're asking "why does my dog always follow me?" then you should take it as a compliment! This is a clear indicator that they trust you, love you, and feel very comfortable and safe with you. Remember, you are your dog’s whole world!
Interestingly, some breeds are known to follow their masters more than others because it’s in their nature. These are usually working breeds that have been bred to work alongside their master or protect them like Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Shetland Sheepdogs, Labradors, Hungarian Vizslas, Dobermans, and German Shepherds.Some toy breeds which were bred to be lapdogs may naturally want to be much closer to their owner too. Breeds like the Maltese, Miniature Dachshunds, Pugs, Chihuahuas, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, French Bulldogs and Affenpinschers.
Wanting to be close to their owner is a very normal (and awesome!) behavior for most dogs though – they’re naturally social animals. But, there’s usually an underlying reason for their following behavior. Here are some potential theories as to why dogs follow you…
Reasons Why Dogs Follow You
They’ve Learned They Get A Reward
When your dog follows you, think about how you react to them doing so. Do you pet them, talk to them or give them a nibble on some food or a treat? If so, you’re rewarding your dog for following you. So, they’ll keep following you everywhere if it means they’re getting something they love and want out of the behavior!
If it’s been a while since they’ve had a walk or been played with, they may be following you to get some attention. Make sure you’re walking your dog the appropriate amount and playing with them alongside their daily exercise routine. If you’re unsure how often you should be exercising your dog, ask your vet and check out our handy guideline below:
What time is it? Dogs love their routines. If it’s nearly time for a walk or for a meal, your dog may be following you around because they want what they’re expecting from you…
They’re Trying To Communicate Something
If your pup is following you but also vocalizing or pacing, this is usually an indicator they are trying to tell you something. The best thing to do is follow them! They may need to go outside or are asking for a top of water/food in their bowl.
They may also be unwell, so consider this and look for other tell-tale signs and contact a vet if you’re concerned.
Your doggo may have been spooked by a noise outside (like fireworks or thunder) and may be following you for reassurance and to help themselves feel safe – you’re their protector after all! Other signs of fear include panting, a widening of the eyes, and alert, pin-backed ears. Comfort them and let them know all is OK.
If the following behavior is sudden and out of character for your dog, it’s usually because they’re afraid or there’s a problem. If it continues and is worrying you, check in with your vet.
If you’re a dog’s master, you’re the leader of the pack to them! That means you’re the one who knows what’s going on and your pooch may just be curious as to what’s up. Dog’s are the originators of FOMO (fear of missing out), so if Fido always has his nose under a door or likes to watch you pee or shower, rest assured, it’s probably because they’re just being nosy… That said, a bathroom is full of interesting and unusual smells. With their advanced noses, this means this room is packed with information they may want to check out. So, if it’s just the bathroom they traipse into after you, it might be that!
Dogs are also excellent at reading our body language. If you’re behaving like you might be doing something they’re not expecting or seems exciting to your dog, they will follow you to find out what’s what (and hope they’re being included!).
They’re Experiencing Separation Anxiety
If your dog is following you around when you’re in and then barking, having accidents in the house, or destroying things when you leave them to go out, this can be a big sign of separation anxiety. This immense stress can have detrimental effects on a dog’s long-term, overall health so check out our blog on separation anxiety and have a chat with your vet ASAP.
Why Does My Dog Follow Me And Not My Husband, Wife, Partner, or Roommate?
It’s very likely that if your dog only follows you, it’s because you’re the one who provides them with what they need the most; you feed them the most and provide the most attention. This should be taken as a big compliment!
If you have a puppy, they’ll be following you as an instinctive means of survival. If you’ve had them since they were young, it is likely they’ve imprinted on you and see you as their parent. They simply feel safe and secure around you and rely on you a lot!
If you have more than one dog and one is a puppy following an older one, this is because they’re copying them and learning how to be a dog from them! This is natural pack behavior for puppies entering a household where other dogs are present.
If you have a rescue dog that follows you a lot, this is most likely because they need reassurance that they are safe. This is even more probable if they’ve come from a poor, abusive previous home. Be kind and patient with them and consider speaking to an ethical, professional trainer who can help you help them feel more confident and settled.
If you have a senior dog, as their body starts to deteriorate they will start to feel more reliant on you. Whether it’s due to the discomfort from stiff, achy joints or diminishing eyesight or hearing loss, or even “doggy dementia” (CCD), this may mean they’re seeking reassurance from their master a little more which is triggering the following. If you’re concerned about your senior pup (any dog above 7 years old), it might be worth airing your worries to your vet.
How To Get Your Dog To Stop Following You Around
You’re entitled to your space, and you may need to discourage your dog from following you if it’s getting too much. However, never punish a dog for following – dogs don’t understand punishment, they just learn to be scared of you which isn’t what we want to instill. What you need to do is redirect the behavior instead…
Distract them; if you suspect that they’re bored, invest in a food-filled puzzle or new toy to distract them with. A great tip is to keep your pet’s toys on rotation so it’s exciting for them to see an old one appear again!
Reward them when they don’t follow; when your pet stops following you, make sure you praise them lots, give them their favorite treat, and engage with them less when they do follow. They’ll hopefully relearn that leaving you alone equals greater reward.
Get them out and about; they should be getting the correct amount of exercise every day (as above) and they need to socialize with other doggies. This will help keep them stimulated and instill confidence in a nervous pet. Make sure you’re engaging in playtime with them every day too!
Get hot on training; if your dog gets up whenever you get up, practice repeating standing up and sitting down and praising them when they stay down as you get up! You can do the same for leaving and entering the room. Remember, ignoring them is the most effective way of discouraging a behavior - not punishment.
You can also practice their “stay” training, increasing the distance you retreat each time, and work on their going to “bed” when told. This will help them learn that being away from you is okay and they’ll be rewarded for doing so.
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: Training is most effective when repeated in bouts of 10 minutes. So, engage in a 10-minute block of repetitive training and then leave it for a few hours before returning to the training routine. This stops your pup from getting bored or fatigued from learning. Do this several times a day over a couple of weeks and they should soon get the hang of it!Engage them with other members of the household; if they only follow you around the house and you live with others, spread the care of your dog and ask them to walk and feed your pooch on occasion so they can associate attention, food, and safety with more than just you.
Don’t leave them in silence; try leaving the television or radio on when you leave the house. Some dogs find a home with a hum of noise a far more settling place to be in - particularly those with separation anxiety.
"Why Does My Dog Follow Me Everywhere?" The Kennel Club https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health-and-dog-care/health/health-and-care/a-z-of-health-and-care-issues/why-does-my-dog-follow-me-everywhere/