Me and My Shadow: Why Does My Dog Follow Me Everywhere?
Franklin, an English shepherd, runs true to his breed's nickname: "English Shadow." No matter where in the house his family goes, there he is with his wagging tail and soulful eyes. There are definitely times when his humans wonder, "Why does my dog follow me everywhere?" If one of them doesn't trip over Franklin once a week, they worry about his health. He seems to think a wormhole will whisk them away if he doesn't keep an eye on them while they walk from one room to the next. They even joke about Franklin giving masterclasses on supervising humans.
So why do pups like Franklin follow their humans everywhere? The answers are as numerous as the doggos in the world.
Why Your Doggo Shadows You
Canines are social animals, so sometimes following you is about having company. Other times, it's about something more concrete. Maybe they need to potty. Or they're hungry. Or there's a noise outside that is wigging them out. Or they have nothing better to do, and following you is better than snoozing. In rare cases, pups may follow you because they want to be sure you don't leave them alone.
To figure out why your doggo is following you, pay attention and collect a little data. Take notes. What is happening when Fido follows you? What happens next? Look for patterns. With a little sleuthing, you can usually figure out what your buddy needs.
Pupper has needs
You may still be wondering, "But why does my dog follow me everywhere?" There are lots of possible explanations. If your pup follows you to the kitchen, he might be hoping for food. If he follows you to the door, he may need a walk. If he follows you to the living room, he may want petting. If he tags along while you're cleaning, he could be curious about what you're doing. A dog following you may also need something, like water in his bowl. Or he may follow you when he feels nervous, like during a thunderstorm or around a stranger.
Following is in his genes
Also consider the type of canine companion you have. The tendency to follow is common among herding dogs like Franklin, an English shepherd. It's not unusual in other breeds, either. For example, lap dogs and retrievers also find hanging out with their humans an important part of the daily routine. In other words, your pupper may have been born this way — and that's OK!
Know what you're getting into when you adopt a pup of a particular breed. Maybe a clingy breed isn't for you. If you've already welcomed such a doggo into your family, you should try to strike a balance between ensuring your pal feels secure and his human having enough personal space.
It's something serious
Most of the time, your pup following you is no big deal. Once in a while, though, excessive following might suggest something is scaring him. Sudden changes in your dog's following behavior can also suggest a health issue. If you see more (or less) following than usual, observe your pup carefully for signs of pain or illness.
How to Handle a Clingy Canine
What can you do when your pup turns into a needy sweetie?
Acknowledge his needs
If your canine companion needs comfort or company, talk to him, stroke him, or spend time playing together.
Does your furry friend want to sit on your lap while you watch TV? Great! Does your pupper like to rest his head in your lap during your Zoom meetings? Love it! Find ways to share time with your dog, and he will adore you for it.
Enjoy his attention
Enjoy the occasional clinginess. You know those happy sounds your furry friend makes as he dances around when you walk in the door? That's his way of reminding you how much he loves you. You may have only been away for an hour, but he is so thrilled you're back that he can't quite contain all the excitement. Let his over-the-top greetings put a smile on your face.
As noted, sometimes your pup's clinginess (or sudden standoffishness) reflects a more serious concern. When Fido's need for togetherness gets out of control or he freaks out when you leave the house, consult a professional. Start by speaking with your veterinarian. They may have a solution or recommend you speak with a certified dog behavior consultant, certified separation anxiety trainer, or veterinary behaviorist.
Most of all, put yourself in your buddy's shoes. Dogs are social animals and like to hang out with us. When we're gone, their lives have a little less luster. Find ways to let your pup know how important he is to you, and you and he will both be happier for it.