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Why Does My Dog Follow Me Everywhere?

Why do dogs follow their owners around?

Do you feel like you've developed an extra shadow since you got a dog? Are you continually avoiding the trip hazard that is your canine pal when you make a quick course change and he's right there under your feet? Maybe your dog even follows you to the bathroom.

There are good reasons why some dogs follow their owner(s) around like, well, puppy dogs. Learn more about them here.

Has Your Dog Been Following You Since Puppyhood?

If you've had your dog since he was less than 12 weeks old and he's been following you around since then, the reason could be imprinting. Young animals often imprint on an adult, usually their mother, whom they then follow closely. For babies, this helps them stay safe and keeps them in reach of a parent, so they get food and care.

When some dogs imprint on a human as puppies, it can carry forward into their adulthood in the form of shadowing behavior.

Is It Awesome to Be Near You?

Many dogs follow their owners around closely because they've received positive reinforcement for doing so. In other words, your dog gets rewarded for being near you. That might be that he gets treats often or that you talk to him, pet him, and give him verbal praise a lot when he's near you.

Dogs will usually do what is most rewarding for them to do, and that's the basis of positive reinforcement dog training. So if being near you is naturally more fun and positive for your dog than not being right there, he'll probably find ways to stay close to you as much as possible.

Inherent Breed Characteristics Can Cause Doggie Shadows

Some dog breeds evolved throughout time working closely with humans, and members of those breeds often tend to be more likely to follow an owner around than others. Some examples of such breeds include retrievers, German shepherds, and shelties.

Dogs that are natural protectors might follow their humans as a way to keep tabs on them and make sure they're not facing any kind of threat.

Your Dog Really Likes You

Dogs love people. They've spent centuries serving as companions to humans, and that's something most of them really love to do. So when your dog is following you everywhere, it means he really likes you and wants to be near you.

Additionally, humans can derive great benefit from that companionship too. Having a dog nearby can help reduce stress and blood pressure and improve quality of life for people.

Can Following Be a Problem?

There are circumstances when shadowing behavior from a dog can indicate a problem. These include:

  • A dog that never exhibited such behavior is suddenly acting clingy. This might suggest that the dog has a medical problem causing pain or illness.
  • A dog acts nervous or engages in inappropriate behaviors when the owner is out of their sight (see "Separation Anxiety in Dogs" for more information).
  • A dog won't interact with anyone other than one or two people and acts scared or aggressive toward others. This could mean that the dog has improperly attached too firmly to one or two people.

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from one of the above issues, contact your veterinarian right away. A full physical exam can help rule out a medical condition, and a veterinary behavior specialist might need to be consulted for separation anxiety or aggression.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Clicker Training for Dogs: An Overview

Why Does Your Dog Follow You to the Bathroom?

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Your New Dog

Tips for Visiting Others' Homes with Your Dog

Is Fostering Dogs Right for You?

How to Care for a Blind Dog

How to Help a Dog with Anxiety

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