Dogs are highly social animals, so it is no wonder that they like to be around their people! After all, they are called man’s best friend for a reason. They have always loved to be our constant companions. But sometimes, our dogs get a little too attached to us and sometimes you could even call them clingy.
While most of us love the attention of our adorable furry friends, a dog that’s too clingy may not be emotionally healthy and could cause some undue stress in the household when a dog is unhealthily attached to one person. But before we get into that, let’s first talk about why dogs can sometimes get clingy.
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Why is my dog so clingy?
Some breeds are more prone to becoming clingy, while other breeds are more known for their independence. For example, golden retrievers, chihuahuas, French bulldogs, and pugs are well-known for their loving disposition and for having a tendency to stick to their humans like glue!
Puppies of any breed also have a tendency to be a little clingy. When they are young, they look for a leader for guidance and to take care of them. That’s you! But often, as they are growing up, they’ll gain confidence and start to become more independent.
However, sometimes dogs fail to gain any independence and become far too attached to their humans. This is often what leads to separation anxiety and the stress and sometimes destructive behaviors that can come from being away from their humans.
While we love our dogs dearly, we want them to live a healthy and stress-free life, so it’s important to provide plenty of healthy socialization early on so they can learn and develop confidence. You might like to read our post Too Late to Socialize Puppy? (When is Too Old?)
As much as you may want to bring your dog with you everywhere you go, sometimes they have to stay home in the event that a dog isn’t allowed or there is an emergency, so it’s important to prepare them for that time.
If you have a puppy and you’re finding them to be clingy then they may be suffering from separation anxiety, in which case be sure to read our post, Puppy Separation Anxiety: A Complete Guide.
Dog is clingy all of a sudden
If a dog becomes extra clingy quite suddenly, it may be worth considering a visit to the vet. Changes in behavior can often be a sign of underlying illness. If your dog is acting clingy more so than usual and acting differently or displaying strange behaviors, there could be a medical reason for it. It may be that your dog isn’t feeling well and wants to be close to you for support and comfort.
It’s best to discuss these newfound behavioral changes with your vet and figure out if there are any changes at home that could be causing your dog’s behavior to change drastically.
Talking to an outsider, especially one with experience, may help us realize things that we couldn’t have figured out on our own, even when the answer is right there in front of us!
Dogs like routine, and they grow accustomed to our lifestyle and our routines. When we change those routines, our dogs are often affected, too. For example, bringing a new baby home is a huge change for a family and for the dog as well. There is another permanent member of the family that wasn’t there yesterday. This is a huge adjustment for many dogs to make, and they may stick extra close to you for support.
Similarly, a child moving away to go to college or the whole family moving to a new city, new neighborhood, and a new house will also undoubtedly cause stress and some anxiety for a dog.
Do everything you can to get back into your old routine and to help your dog with the change by showing him where its dishes will be and where and when it will go potty and providing a cozy and safe place for the dog to feel comfortable.
So if your dog or puppy has suddenly grown very clingy, then consider any changes that may have occurred in your household recently. You might be surprised to find it’s something so small you didn’t even consider it!
Male dog is clingy
Some people believe that male dogs tend to be more affectionate and have more of a desire to be extra close to their humans, while female dogs tend to value their independence a bit more.
However, this is more likely just true on a case-by-case basis and not as a rule of thumb. Both male and female dogs can be equally clingy. One thing you could consider doing that may help ease your dog’s anxiety would be to put one of your old t-shirts in their bed or kennel with them so that their comfortable area smells just like you, their favorite human!
If you find your dog to have anxiety, you may wish to read our post, 7 Proven Products for Dogs with Anxiety
Female dog is clingy
Female dogs that have not yet been spayed can sometimes become more clingy or needy during their heat, the time in a female dog’s cycle when she is most fertile and most likely to breed.
Especially when it is a dog’s first heat cycle, the changes that happen to the dog’s body can cause them to feel a little nervous or unsure, and they will often look to their owners for comfort.
Similarly, when a female dog is pregnant, and about to give birth, especially for the first time, she will often become extra clingy or dependent on her owner. This can, of course be avoided by spaying, and a female dog will no longer experience the heat cycle or pregnancy.
What to do when your dog won’t leave your side
The first step is to rule out any signs of illness in a dog who has become more clingy. If you determine that illness or stress isn’t the cause, start to consider some other options. Did you move to a new house recently? Did you bring a new pet or baby home? If so, allow your dog to have some time to adjust to the new routine. Provide reassurance but try to avoid excessively coddling, as we don’t want them to develop bad habits!
Likewise when it comes to leaving for work, don’t make any dramatic exit from the house. If you can resist, just give them a quick pat and goodbye without the fanfare.
There are some things you can do to help your dog gain confidence and help you gain your independence back. For example, if your dog is overly attached to you to the point where they’re anxious when you aren’t around, try getting some friends or family to babysit the dog for small stretches of time. Or even something as simple as inviting a friend over to take your dog for a short ten-minute walk around the block without you.
This is a great way for the dog to socialize with someone new while still being distracted enough by the walking that they won’t be as distressed at your absence. Keep practicing this and work up to longer and longer walks with a friend who is willing. Think about gradually building your dog’s confidence – give them alone time, time with others, and time in various situations.
Another thing to try is if your dog is anxious when you are gone, consider getting them a licking mat in their kennel. Spread some dog-safe peanut butter on there, show it to your dog, and step out of the room or even out of the house once the dog is busy licking. When you come back, whether or not the dog has finished its snack, ignore the dog and don’t engage excessively.
We have our own snuffle and lick mat you can buy on Amazon.
Dog is clingy at night
In some cases, dogs may be more likely to get clingy at night because of the change of pace. During the day, maybe the kids are awake and playing, and the whole house is busy, but at night, everything is completely quiet and nothing is happening. This sudden change in environment could be unsettling for some dogs and may result in them coming to you for extra comfort.
Sometimes it might just be your dog loves affection and that’s not a bad thing, give them lots of cuddles!
It’s not entirely unusual for our dogs or puppies to want to be attached to us at the hip. Dogs tend to have utter and absolute devotion to their humans. In most cases, we love the companionship that they offer us. However, in some cases, there can come a point where dogs get overly attached to humans, or even just one person in particular, and refuse to tolerate anyone else. Some even get overly protective of their humans and start attacking anyone who comes near with anxiety aggression. Avoiding these undesirable behaviors and teaching our dogs good social skills is important.
Remember, try your best not to over coddle your dog too much, no matter how much you may want to! In the long run, helping them gain a healthy sense of independence and confidence will be better for both the dog and the owner.