You may be familiar with the expression “following you around like a lost dog.” Dogs tend to follow people as a form of communication or in search of comfort.
If your dog seems to have an active interest in every move you make, there may be a few potential culprits facilitating this behavior.
You’re a Puppy Parent
If your puppy is following you everywhere, this is to be expected. Puppies are used to following their mother and taking direction.
If you are now the parental figure in that puppy’s life, the puppy will continue to follow you until they grow into maturity and independence. This is especially true if they’re still learning their new environment after you’ve adopted them.
It’s best to let your puppy tag along until they find their footing. This behavior will gradually stop with age. Make the most of this time by training your puppy and teaching them new tricks. They’re going to be highly receptive to everything you say and do while they regard you as a parent.
You’re a Caregiver to an Elderly Dog
Elderly dogs may experience issues related to aging, like joint mobility concerns and the diminishing of senses. If your elderly dog is following you around, it’s because they’re depending on you a little more than they used to.
If your dog seems to be becoming more codependent with age, a trip to the vet is in order. Most of the time, elderly dogs can live happy and comfortable lives throughout their golden years with proper care.
You Rescued a Dog with a Difficult Past
If you rescued a dog that endured trauma, abuse, or neglect, your dog might see you as a hero or a protector. In this case, their tendency to follow you is heartbreakingly sweet. Your dog is recognizing you as a safe person that they feel comfortable with, and they trust you to keep them safe.
Your dog may not understand that things are different now. They’re in a loving home full of warm companions who want to make sure their needs are met. It can take them a while to get used to their new and vastly improved normal.
This behavior can sometimes resolve once your dog has settled in and begins to enjoy the life they deserve. In cases of severe or lingering trauma, your dog may benefit from professional behavioral intervention to help them assess and manage their feelings productively.
It’s in Your Dog’s DNA
Retrievers, collies, and shepherd dogs are bred specifically to be a little clingier than other types of dogs. They’re often used as work dogs or service dogs because they feel an innate bond with their humans. They want to be there to help and they’re waiting for you to need them. In this case, your dog is acting as your personal assistant.
This usually isn’t a sign that something is wrong, and it only becomes a problem if you’re inconvenienced by it. Re-training your dog to give you some space is possible if you desire that space. Alternatively, you can also train your dog to be a little more useful to make the most out of your eager companion. Retrievers love to fetch your shoes or put water bottles in the recycling bin.
Small dogs, like pugs and french bulldogs, may want to be close to you because of their size. They’re small, and they know they’re vulnerable. They view you as their protector. Even if they feel safe, they may be subconsciously driven to find your lap. This behavior mimics a baby or a toddler who finds a natural sense of comfort in the arms of a parent or caregiver.
Your Dog Wants To Hang Out
If you work long hours or have an unpredictable schedule, your dog may be following you around out of a need for companionship. Your dog wants to play or cuddle, and they’re asking for attention in the best way they know how.
Make sure you’re carving out enough time to hang out. Your dog relies on you for social interaction, especially if there are no other animal companions in your home.
Your Dog is Communicating a Need
Your dog would love to politely ask you to refill the food dish or take them outside. Unfortunately, they aren’t able to communicate as clearly as people. Your dog may be telling you that they need something.
Some dogs will develop the sense to bring you their leash or their empty food bowl as a clear means of communicating what they need from you. Other dogs will simply trail behind you, hoping that you’ll figure it out.
If your dog isn’t carrying any clues or attempting to lead you somewhere, make the rounds. Check the dishes and your dog’s favorite spots. If everything looks good around the house, hold up the leash or open the back door. Your dog will eagerly indicate that a potty break is in order.
Your Dog Is Scared or Nervous
If your dog doesn’t normally follow you around, pay attention to the circumstances surrounding the situation. Is it storming out? Are there fireworks? Is there noisy construction on your neighbor’s house? Do you have people performing repairs or painting your home? Are there new people visiting?
Your canine shadow may be asking you “Hey, what’s going on here? I don’t get it and I’m not sure if everything is cool.” Your dog only knows what’s happening. They don’t know why it’s happening or understand if it’s temporary or a new long term change.
Your dog could be looking to you for reassurance in times of environmental distress. It’s likely that your dog will return to business as usual when the temporary disruption or change in environment stops.
Should I Be Worried About My Dog?
There are a few reasons why you should be concerned about your dog’s behavior. If your dog seems lost, highly anxious, confused, or disoriented, you need to see a vet right away.
Separation anxiety, loss of vision, or cognitive disorders related to aging can cause dogs to obsessively follow their owners.
Separation anxiety can be treated and resolved, and conditions like vision loss and cognitive disorders will require special treatment and adaptations to accommodate your dog.
How To Make Your Dog More Comfortable
If your dog has a health concern or a behavioral concern contributing to their habit of following you, these concerns need to be addressed. Puppies and newly adopted dogs are just doing what they know to do, and these behaviors will naturally dissipate with time.
If your dog is following you in an attempt to communicate with you, the best solution is to learn to become a better pup communicator. Take some time to understand your dog’s language a little better. It will make both of your lives much easier.
If there seems to be a trigger or a need associated with following, meeting the need or resolving the situation should redirect your dog. You should always speak to your vet if patience and investigation can’t easily uncover the root of the behavior.
If your dog is communicating difficulty with joint mobility or reacting to temporary environmental distress, CBD may be a valuable option.
VETCBD Hemp’s American-grown hemp-derived CBD is formulated specifically for your pet. It can help to take the edge off of emotional tension your pet may be experiencing as a result of unpredictable loud noises or temporary changes in environment.