If you own a dog, the old song “Me and My Shadow” probably comes to mind. Dogs are true companions who are always happy to be near us wherever we may be (unfortunately, even in the bathroom). While at first, this constant companionship may be endearing, in some cases, it may become problematic or indicate boredom in your pet.
If you find yourself asking “why does my dog follow me?” don’t worry – this is something we get asked a lot. To determine the reasons behind this quirky behavior, the team at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital offers the following explanations.
Beginning With Dog Behavior
While you may just assume your dog is the most lovable friend (and you’re probably right), there are some basic truths about why dogs stick by our sides. The first is recognition. From puppyhood, dogs learn to “tail” their parents in order to recognize them, as well as to learn the ropes of dog behavior, including hunting and social cues. This recognition helps them develop a dog’s sense of trust and security, knowing they’re with their pack members.
Dogs have evolved along with us for thousands of years, eventually seeing humans as fellow pack members. If you’ve observed wolves or coyotes in the wild, you know they equally participate in social dynamics, including grooming, hunting, and sleeping together in their dens. This innate trait of social bonding lends itself to their need for companionship.
In some cases, certain breeds like Chihuahuas, golden retrievers, and labs are well-known for their attention to their owners and are often referred to as “Velcro dogs.”
Why Does My Dog Follow Me?
One of the primary reasons your dog may follow your lead is because it’s been ingrained. In other words (and like many behaviors) they learned it from you. Tailing you around the house also has many rewards associated with it, including:
- Your dog may follow you with the hope of attaining a reward (food, a walk, etc.).
- Your pet may be trying to get your attention. For example, when was the last time you took them out to play fetch? Have you forgotten this morning’s walk?
- They may be needing more attention or playtime during the day.
- Your dog may just be curious. Dogs are typically an inquisitive animal and want to see what we’re up to (namely, what we’re eating).
In some cases, persistent following may be due to some health or behavioral issues. Separation anxiety is common among canines, and sometimes, pets can become “clingy” when they’re ill. If your pet has suddenly become clingy, call us to schedule an exam to rule out anything that might be a problem.
Is Your Dog a Velcro Pet?
After ruling out any sort of underlying health issue, you may still be asking: Why does my dog follow me around? The cause may be boredom or lack of exercise. Are you spending time with your pet each day? Have you been too busy to maintain those daily walks or other activities?
Consider spending more time with your pet, including exercise, to help reduce stress, increase fitness, and alleviate some of the pent up energy that may be the cause of your pet’s “static cling.” Enrichment, such as new toys, is paramount to your pet’s happiness and will also help them stay active and mentally engaged while you’re gone during the day.
If we can answer more of your questions about your pet’s behavior, please call us!