As soon as you enter the apartment, does your dog follow you everywhere and stick to your heels?
What initially looks like touching attachment quickly grows into a problem and stresses people and animals.
In this article, I want to show you the reasons for your dog’s need for closeness and provide solutions.
In a nutshell: the dog follows you wherever you go – you can do that!
Your dog’s attachment can have many causes: separation anxiety, protective instinct, boredom, or wrong training.
Constantly following you around the apartment is exhausting and stressful for you and your animal. You should be patient enough to allow him to feel comfortable and relaxed without your immediate presence.
For these and other tips for raising a happy and relaxed dog, take a look at the Dog Training Bible. This is how you and your four-legged friend understand each other without words.
Why is my dog following me?
A dog does not know the concept of privacy.
You’re there when he breaks loose, so why shouldn’t he follow you into the bathroom?
You pet him, why shouldn’t he be there when you cuddle with your partner?
A dog does not distinguish between these situations on its own.
Sometimes, however, it is not just simple dog logic that takes away your privacy, but serious stress factors for your four-legged friend.
Here I want to give you the most common reasons why your dog won’t leave you alone anymore:
Do you remember the moment when you sighed happily and said:
“I want a dog that will always be with me”?
You probably reacted enthusiastically when the dog actually wanted to be very close to you for the first few days.
Unfortunately, he took your reaction as a reward.
In his head, this resulted in a simple equation: where mom or dad is, it’s beautiful. It is logical that he then follows you expectantly.
Control compulsion or protective instinct
A compulsion to control can quickly arise, especially if the breed has a strong guard or protective instinct. These dogs are bred to be on the lookout for danger on their own and to protect their pack.
So if your dog thinks he can protect the pack better than you do, he sees it as his job to be your bodyguard. He wants to control every room and is always ready to put a potential attacker to flight.
Would you like to learn more about the subject of compulsive control? Then have a look at our article My dog controls me.
Separation anxiety and insecurity caused by change
Some dogs have never learned to be left alone or have already faced a traumatic separation situation. They see the only way not to lose you is to keep their eyes on you.
Dogs also often compensate for change by leaning on their most important caregivers. Whether it’s the loss of a canine pal or people, renovations or new neighbors:
Sensitive dogs have to get used to change.
And sometimes your dog simply reacts to you: if he senses that you are unusually sad or angry, he wants to comfort you.
Curiosity and lack of utilization
Dogs are naturally curious animals. This is particularly pronounced in puppies and dogs that have only recently moved in with you. Everything is new to them and one big adventure playground with you as the main attraction.
A lack of other activities reinforces this. A dog needs to be spoken to, played with and given attention. If that gets lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, he demands it himself.
How does my dog leave me alone again?
In order to react appropriately and gently and stress-free dissuade your dog from chasing, you must first consider the underlying cause of the problem. Because your solution must also get this problem under control, otherwise the stress level will remain high.
With all solutions, it is important that you first relax yourself. When you’re nervous, you transfer that to your dog.
Create a place of relaxation
Teach your dog that his bed is his oasis of relaxation. When he’s there, he can relax and leave everything to you.
This solution is particularly suitable for dogs with control compulsions, protective instincts or separation anxiety. It requires your dog to be able to sit and stay.
Proceed as follows:
- Let your dog sit in the basket
- Sit near him in a relaxed manner without paying attention to him
- If he gets up to run to you, lead him back and start over
If you notice your dog relaxing and not focusing on you, stay relaxed. If you were to reward him now, your dog will learn that all he has to do is wait and stare at you long enough to get your attention.
Move away from him from time to time until you can finally go into another room for a moment without him raising his state of arousal. Slowly increase this time in other rooms.
This method requires a lot of perseverance and time. Especially at the beginning he will quickly lose his patience and want to come to you or express his frustration or insecurity.
Exercise your dog more
Utilization is the panacea for almost every behavioral problem. Because a tired dog is rarely a problem dog.
Provide plenty of stimulation for his nose and head on walks and also offer indoor activities so that he has more exciting alternatives than following you around the apartment.
If you have a particularly curious dog or puppy, run an apartment marathon: at some point, even the most excited dog will get overwhelmed and give up tracking.
Draw clear spatial boundaries
Sometimes a clear spatial separation helps. Create spaces that your dog is not allowed to enter. This could be the kitchen or your office, for example.
It is important that the border is recognizable for your dog. A door threshold is perfect, but different floor coverings or furniture are also clearly understandable as a separating element.
If he was allowed to enter the areas before, it will take him a while to accept that this has now changed. Do not give up.
Myth: Reaching the goal through ignorance
Many guidebooks still recommend ignoring the dog until it stops exhibiting the unwanted behavior.
Although there are situations in which this can bring success, it takes much longer than a positively stimulating upbringing.
In addition, it often reinforces the basic problem:
- a frightened dog will panic all the more
- a controlling dog feels confirmed: they rely on my protection
- the underutilized dog becomes even more impatient
So ignorance should only be used in moderation, for example against the famous dachshund look.
Why your dog will want to follow you around the home depends on their history and personality. It can be due to separation anxiety or a protective instinct, but it can also be completely banal boredom or behavior that you have inadvertently trained.
If you want to help you and your dog to be more relaxed together, you will find tips & tricks in the dog training bible. Here, qualified dog trainers explain what you need to pay attention to during training and how to understand the concerns and needs of your four-legged friend.