Dogs give us unconditional love 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for all the time we have the privilege to spend with them. But sometimes they show this love for their humans by being small furry shadows. If you have a dog, you know the feeling of having your dog following you around everywhere. Whether you are cooking in the kitchen, working in the studio, or even showering, your dog will always be nearby.
Although it is meant to be endearing, it can also be annoying at times. So why do our dogs love to follow us everywhere?
Studies show that there are several reasons why your dog loves to be your personal stalker.
1. Separation Anxiety
All dogs miss their humans when they’re out of the house, but there are dogs who suffer from actual separation anxiety. One way to tell if your dog has separation anxiety is if they salivate excessively, scratch, bark, whine or destroy your belongings when they’re separated from you.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, it’ll be best to get your pet trained. Cesar Milan, also known as the “Dog Whisperer,” says that separation anxiety is a learned behavior. It’s likely that when your dog was still a puppy, you responded to their every whimper instead of letting them learn to calm themselves. Training them to get used to a safe space even when you leave can help your dog feel more balanced and less anxious.
Imprinting refers to a critical period of time early in an animal’s life when it forms it’s most important attachments. Like how baby ducks identify the first creature they encounter after hatching as their mother, puppies can imprint on humans as well.
According to Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist Mary Burch, “The imprinting period for puppies is between three and twelve weeks old.”
So if you’ve been with your dog during this critical imprinting period, they now see you as a source of security and companionship. Leading them to follow you everywhere you go.
Much like humans, dogs are social creatures. Whenever they’re around their owners or other dogs, their brains release a “feel good” chemical called oxytocin. That’s why some owners get two dogs to help provide companionship to each other. But if you can’t take in another dog into your home, you can always bring your dog to dog parks or you can arrange doggie playdates. This can help take the pressure off of you for being your dog’s one and only source of interaction.
Whenever you move from one room to another, your dog may also want to know where you’re going and what you’re about to do. Are you going to leave the house again or are you going for a walk? Chances are, your dog just wants to know when he can bond with his favorite human again.
Whatever the specific reason is for your dog following you everywhere, we can all agree that they’re doing this because they just really, really love you.