Whether you named your dog Shadow or not, there is a good chance that your canine companion follows you around the house. Many dogs seem to love (or even need) to follow their owners around. While this generally is just a sign of your dog’s interest in you, it can also be a symptom of underlying anxiety or lack of confidence in your dog.
Why Do Dogs Follow People Everywhere?
Whether you find your dog is shadow-like behaviors cute, annoying, or concerning, you might want to learn why your pup does this. There are several common reasons for your dog to follow you around.
We bred dogs for generations and generations to want to be around us. The fact that most dogs spent their days alone is a new thing for them. Because dogs are such social creatures, they are often strongly motivated to be in our presence as much as possible while we are around
Many dogs do not really get enough physical and mental exercise every day. This can lead to them following their people all over the place, looking for something—anything—to do. If you give your dog a chew toy, does he stop? If so, he was probably bored!
If your dog has not gone potty for a while and he is suddenly glued to your side, it might be a sign that your dog needs to get outside! Many dogs become especially clingy when they are feeling unwell or otherwise need some help. Try taking your dog outside and see if he needs to go potty.
Lack of Confidence or Anxiety
Some dogs rely on our social presence because they are nervous about being alone. This can be a symptom of separation anxiety according to some studies. But many dogs that are generally “worried about life” also exhibit shadowing behavior, especially during storms or other worrisome times!
Watch your dog’s body language to determine if his shadowing behavior is motivated by fear of the unknown versus desire to be near you. An anxious dog may display pinned ears, wide eyes, grimaced panting, or increased tension as you get ready to leave. Dogs who are anxious might not be willing to eat a treat or play with a toy while you leave the room.
On the flip side, your dog may follow you around because you are “The Bringer of Good Things.” If you regularly engage with your dog in a positive way, your dog is probably just following you because you are a good person to be around! Take it as a compliment and keep it up.
Is My Dog’s Shadowing Behavior a Problem?
In general, the fact that your dog follows you around is not a big deal. There are two main exceptions to this rule: if you find it annoying or if your dog is distressed by being alone. There is a big difference between your dog loving your presence and your dog hating to be alone.
Try putting your dog behind a baby gate or tying his leash to a door, then leave the room. Or, if your dog normally joins you in the bathroom, leave him outside for a moment. If your dog gets upset by this, then it is time to work on some “independence training.”
It is also okay to admit that your dog’s shadowing behavior is a bit much. We all love our dogs, but most of us also like to have a bit of personal space. In either case, follow the steps below to teach your dog to give you more space.
How to Stop Your Dog from Following You Everywhere
If you have determined that you would like your dog to stop following you around, there’s a relatively simple solution: give him something else to do instead.
A helpful way to boost independence in clingy dogs is to teach them how to lie calmly on a bed, towel, or mat. There are several methods that can prove successful when it comes to training your pup how to do this. Karen Overall’s Protocol for Relaxation, which teaches your pup to sit and remain calm no matter the circumstances, is one option.
In this method, take a new bed or mat and ask your dog to lie down on it. Each time he successfully does so, reward him with a treat. After he masters this command, begin incorporating distractions like setting treats down nearby or having a family member stand a few feet from his mat. Eventually, he will learn to lie down and stay on his designated mat for extended periods of time.