In the past, my dog would’ve been what you called an “independent soul”. Entire afternoons could be spent by itself, rolling around on the carpet, or playing with its (a hundred) toys.
That all changed recently.
Now, my dog keeps following me around all of a sudden!
Don’t get me wrong: It would follow me around before as well, for food or for companionship. However, it wouldn’t be to this extent!
Have you been experiencing something similar too?
While dogs were bred for their loyalty and friendship (and we sure love them for it!), you may find it challenging to understand the sudden change in mood and affection that it is now showing.
After doing my fair share of research and consulting my vet, I can now do my part to help others such as yourself understand how this sudden behavioral change came to be.
Simply put: If your dog keeps following you around and shows sudden clinginess, he is trying to communicate something to you. So, take that as a cue and try to find out what it is! Don’t simply ignore and wait for behavior to stop, as it could potentially be something serious.
There are many worrisome reasons as to why dogs will follow their owners suddenly out of nowhere, such as stress, fear, anxiety, insecurity, and illnesses.
At the same time, it can also be the case that your dog simply feels closer to you these days, or knows that if it stays near you it is more likely to receive food and treats. Clever pup!
Why Is My Dog So Clingy All Of A Sudden?
Was your dog once an independent, confident canine that pleasantly seemed to not require as much human coddling as others?
It can be confounding to see a previously individualistic pet become a Velcro dog for no apparent reason.
However, it can happen, and does so for various reasons such as:
- Separation anxiety
- Medical illness
- Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCDS)
- Anxiety over life changes.
I will now go through each of these reasons (and more), and briefly detail how each has the ability to make your dog follow you around endlessly!
If your dog suddenly won’t leave your side, separation anxiety is no doubt one of the most common possibilities. Separation anxiety and fearfulness is where your dog becomes overly anxious whenever you leave its sights- even if it’s only for a minute or two.
If your dog feels terrified whenever you leave the house, it’s only natural that it will keep trailing behind you the times that you are around.
Besides the clingy behavior, dogs battling separation anxiety tend to be very destructive when left alone by themselves.
They will exhibit behaviors such as whining and barking excessively, showing aggression, pacing restlessly, digging, and destroying any objects that they find.
Since separation anxiety can cause your pet to engage in destructive behavior, it is definitely necessary to engage in relevant training to re-condition its behavior.
For example, one of the best methods of minimizing separation anxiety in a dog is by very gradually increasing the time that it spends by itself.
Start by leaving it in a room for one minute before checking on it, and then increase the time alone a minute at a time. Make sure you reward and praise it accordingly!
Other ways of dealing with separation anxiety in dogs include not giving them too much attention all the time, introducing them to other family members, and distracting them with suitable puzzle or chew toys while you are away.
Undiagnosed Medical Issues
If your dog is sick or in pain, chances are that it will do one of two things: become super clingy, or keep strongly to itself.
Feeling unwell is a scary feeling for dogs, and some pups feel more secure when they are close to their humans. This can be a reason for your dog to start following you all of a sudden, as it feels like you are their greatest source of comfort and support.
If your dog seems unwell, or is showing other signs such as burying its head into you, it may be time to take it to the vet for a thorough checkup.
It may be that once a medical issue is discovered and resolved, your dog will be back to its normal, happy, independent self!
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCDS)
Unfortunately, dogs age just like everyone else. As they do, their health deteriorates- both physically and neurologically.
Senior dogs are susceptible to functional changes such as cognitive dysfunction. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, otherwise known as dementia, is indeed very pervasive amongst aging dogs.
According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, aging dogs gradually lose their hearing, vision, and mental acuity. I have had experience previously with elderly dogs that struggled with these changes. While sad, it is only natural.
Senior dogs experiencing these age-related health problems become clingy because they often become lost, confused or disoriented. This can sometimes be observed in dogs that become harder to wake up, or that look around frantically for no particular reason.
When old dogs experience the world in a way that they are not accustomed to due to deteriorating senses, they can become very anxious. If you have an older dog at home, this anxiety could be the catalyst that is causing it to follow you around everywhere you go.
If your dog is anything like mine, it loves to cuddle and play. It loves it even more when you’ve been away all day!
If you, again like me, have to leave your corgi at home by itself for hours at a time, it is very likely that the number one thing your dog looks forward to every single day is the moment you step through that door.
And the moment you do- watch out! Don’t think for a second that your best friend is going to let you out of its sight so easily. If it has been lying around all day with nothing to do, it makes total sense for it to want to stay around you and catch up.
If your dog is likely acting clingy out of boredom: Play with him and do fun activities, take him outside for a walk, and give it all the attention you can muster. However you choose to spend time with it, your pet will surely be grateful.
Changes In Daily Routine
Being creatures of habit, dogs really find a lot of comfort in a set, regular routine. For example, one of your dog’s favorite routines is probably the daily mealtimes. It’s likely gotten to the point where your pup knows exactly when it’s time to eat!
Other routines can include the morning walk, or the hourly toilet breaks. These set times and actions allow your dog to have some stability throughout its day.
Now imagine that routine suddenly changes- the reason for which is of course unknown to your pet. Since they rely on us so much for their lives and wellbeing, big changes in daily patterns can really throw off and upset their balance.
More often than not, this results in a pet becoming panicked. And when a dog becomes worried, it will stick close to its owner for a sense of security.
Therefore, the advice here is that once you have found a routine that works for both you and your pal: Stick with it! Doing so will result in a happier, more confident pooch.
Stress, Fear, And Anxiety
Much like the previous section, a dog that is feeling stressed out or fearful for whatever reason is more likely to want to follow you around all the time. Don’t ignore this!
For all you know, the pet might have been bullied by other pets, or mistreated by the neighborhood raccoon. Also, abrupt behavioral change when certain people are around could mean your pet feels insecure or fearful in their presence.
What I’ve found is a good clue of a dog feeling stressed is if they have a hunched posture, lowered tail, and tries to maintain constant (sorrowful) eye contact. You can really see it in their eyes.
At least, that’s how my big dog Max looks every time the thunder rolls around, or the burglar alarm goes off. During times that he’s feeling scared or stressed, there’s nothing I can do to get him away from my side (not that I’d want to anyway)!
A New Person Or Pet In The Home
Significant life changes can increase stress and anxiety in pets- particularly in dogs. This is likely due to their deeply-entrenched traits of loyalty and devotion.
Therefore, if you have recently welcomed a new animal, baby, or even significant other to your home, you may start to see your dog behind you every time you turn around. This is a clear sign of insecurity, jealousy, and want for attention.
Pets do tend to become jealous when they feel like they have to share your love and affection. Your dog is no exception!
Whenever you introduce a new special someone into their lives, your dog will likely show excessive affection or act out aggressively because it is worried about losing you.
It is up to you to assuage those fears and make sure your pup knows that you will never love him any less, no matter what changes.
Being In Heat
Heat doesn’t always refer to temperature. In this case, it simply means that it’s your female dog’s ‘time of the month’. Being in heat, or canine estrus, is when a mature female dog is ready to mate.
This is brought on by hormonal changes in the body, and can lead to subsequent behavioral changes as well during the period.
If your female pooch is in its estrus cycle, it will likely become more anxious and fidgety. It may also become more clingy towards its owner.
Keep in mind that your dog experiences some physical pain and discomfort during this period, and so likely needs to be comforted more than usual. If spaying is not an option currently (perhaps due to the cost), make sure you give her more attention and care when she is in heat.
Your Dog Is About To Give Birth
This one should be the most noticeable possibility out of this entire list.
Dogs tend to become super clingy when they are about to give birth. Indeed, clinginess is one sign that your dog is going into labor.
Giving birth is stressful and exhausting- that’s something I’m sure that you don’t need to be told! For this reason, your dog will want to stay close to a person she loves and trusts to feel comfortable during this time.
Even a normally independent dog will become clingy when she is about to deliver, and who can blame her?
Why Is My Dog Suddenly Obsessed With Me?
When your dog’s behavior changes drastically, it becomes obvious that something is wrong.
While there are various reasons why your dog can become obsessed with you, the most common is that it simply wants more attention. Think about your dog’s health, routine, environment, or anything else that could be making it feel stressed out recently.
Understanding exactly what has caused your dog to become obsessed with you is the key to ultimately stopping the behavior.
Other possible reasons for dogs becoming obsessed with their owners include:
- Hunger: It may simply be hungry, especially if it has not eaten for a while! Feeding it the right foods in the correct amount at regular times will go a long way in solving this problem.
- Desire for exercise: Some dog breeds require a large amount of exercise. It is common for these breeds to subsequently show obsessive and clingy behavior towards their owner if they don’t have an outlet for this energy. Take your pup outside and throw it a frisbee!
- Behavior reinforcement: If you try to escape your dog’s attention by providing it with treats or toys each time it shows obsessiveness towards you, you could inadvertently be reinforcing unwanted behavior! If you think that this is the case, you need to ignore your dog instead until it gets the message and stops following you around in hope of a reward.
While obsessiveness can be cute at first and- dare I say it- endearing at times, it has a tendency to become a problem that worsens over time.
It’s important to get to the root of it as soon as you notice clinginess in your dog in order to prevent it from causing bigger issues down the road.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Attachment Issues?
Dog attachment issues are mostly driven by an overly reliant relationship between the dog and the owner. Unhealthy attachment in dogs can be very dangerous for both you and your pet.
To know if your dog has developed excessive attachment issues, look for signs such as:
- Excessive barking- mostly when left alone
- Whining and drooling
- Panicked behavior
- A loss of appetite or refusal to eat
- Nervous body language
- Signs of stress or insecurity, e.g. cowering or darting eyes
- Destructive behavior
- Urination/defecation in the home
Dogs with attachment issues tend to be extraordinarily clingy and will do all they can to get your attention.
Since they are more vulnerable to separation anxiety, these tips can help you mitigate attachment issues in your pet. It will also help if you learn how to help your pooch with separation anxiety and other fears.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Can Dogs Get Sick From Missing Their Owners?
Dogs are affectionate creatures that tend to be firmly bonded to their owners. Due to this strong bond, some dogs can become upset if their owner goes missing for several hours. This can in fact make them physically ill!
Dogs will display a variety of behaviors that indicate they are missing their owners. For example, when left alone for extended periods, pets can become confused and increasingly anxious.
Some dogs can experience vomiting or diarrhea solely as a result of separation anxiety.
If you find your dog has created a mess in the house, don’t punish them!
Instead, take it as a message that he missed you and try to work on it so it doesn’t affect him as badly in the future.
Why Is My Older Dog Following Me Everywhere Suddenly?
Senior dogs can be super clingy. As your dog ages, you will most likely notice that it begins to act differently at times.
A few of the potential factors that can result in an older dog following you everywhere all of a sudden include underlying medical issues and age-related complications such as loss of vision, diminished hearing, and acute pain.
Understanding behavioral changes in older dogs can be a bit trickier. Therefore, if you notice abrupt changes in your old friend’s behavior, make sure to visit your vet so that he can tell what exactly the problem is.
Helping your senior dog with separation anxiety and providing a stable environment can make them more comfortable. If your senior pet shows you its problems, make sure to deal with them accordingly so that it can live well into its golden years.
My Dog Is Following Me Everywhere And Panting… What Does This Mean?
Dogs normally pant to cool off. While panting is perfectly normal in dogs, heavy panting can mean something else entirely! If your dog keeps following you everywhere while panting, the chances are that your furry friend is feeling stressed or anxious.
If your dog has not just been exercising or playing, panting can also mean that it could potentially be battling a hidden disease or illness.
With that said, if your dog is clingy and panting heavily as well, it would be a good idea to visit or call a vet to diagnose possible causes as soon as possible.
My Dog Will Not Leave My Side All Of A Sudden. Should I Be Worried?
There are a large number of possible reasons as to why your dog will suddenly refuse to stray from your side.
These can include:
- Separation anxiety
- Breed tendencies
- Underlying health issues
- You as the owner being overly attentive
- Significant changes in routine.
For a detailed explanation of this behavior and what you can do to solve it, read our article on the topic right here!
Elena Gherman is a highly skilled and knowledgeable animal care expert. At the start of her career, she gained practical expertise with multiple animals. In addition to that, she works as a DVM veterinary editor for Joy Pet Products, which focuses on offering reliable information on pet health and wellbeing. She meticulously reviews each piece of writing before it is published to make sure pet owners get the most precise and updated information possible.