Imagine you are at home after a long day’s work, trying to get through your daily tasks of cleaning, dusting and getting the food ready. You find that your canine companion is curiously trudging close behind no matter where you go. All dog owners are familiar with our canine friends’ habits to trail us wherever we go. Dogs are often apt to stay within close proximity to their owners, at times refusing to leave their presence at all.
Your dog’s close attachment to your whereabouts may have you wondering, why does my dog follow me around the house? Let’s find out!
So, Why Does Your Dog Follow You Around?
There are more reasons than you think. While the first and foremost reason is that your dog loves you and is therefore attached to you, there are other scientific and behavioral grounds for this action.
- Companionship: Above all, you are your dog’s companion as they are yours, and your dog likely finds comfort in your presence. As dogs became domesticated, natural selection has shaped them into becoming companions to human beings in order to survive. Dogs are therefore now attached to humans in the same way human children are attached to their parents.
- Pack living: Before their domestication, dogs lived in packs. To your dog, you and the members of your family are their pack, and therefore this attachment can be explained by their instinctual need for safety and belonging to a group.
- Reinforcement: If your dog equates that your presence brings positive reinforcement, in the form of food, treats, pets and playtime, then your dog is likely to follow you around expecting this in return.
- Imprinting: When a puppy is growing up, it is likely to imprint on its caretaker. Before your pup reaches the age of 12 weeks, its time spent around you and being cared for by you can cause them to imprint on you, making their attachment to you much stronger.
- Separation Anxiety: Dogs can sometimes develop separation anxiety. This fear of solitude then manifests as increased attachment to their owners whenever they are around.
What are the positive effects of this?
You may be wondering if your dog’s habit of following you around has any effects or benefits to either of you. Firstly, the more time you spend with your little companion, the easier it is for both of you to understand each other. Dogs are constantly studying our moves, words and actions in an attempt to learn how to decipher what we mean, and we are constantly training and conditioning our dogs to behave properly. Moreover, the companionship between you and your dog decreases feelings of anxiety and loneliness for both of you – where studies have shown that even simple interactions between owners and their pets greatly elevate their moods and deplete negative emotions.
Does it ever become too much?
While there is surely nothing bad about your dog expressing their love to you, over-attachment can lead to issues of separation anxiety and depression in dogs. If your pet begins to depend on you constantly on a daily basis, then they may experience extreme loneliness, fear and insecurity when you are not around.
Encouraging your dog to interact with other people, such as visiting guests and other family members, and rewarding them when they do so re-instills the need to not remain stuck by their owners side.