My Dog Won’t Leave My Side! (5 Surprising Reasons)

My dog won't leave my side
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 Recently, it seems that no matter where you go, your dog is right there by your side.

Now, normally this wouldn’t be considered a bad thing. On the contrary, who wouldn’t want a loyal companion that’s there for them through thick and thin?

If only they would just let you out of their sight long enough for you to go to the toilet without them staring at you the whole time.

If you’re here wondering, “Why is it that my dog won’t leave my side?”, there are actually numerous possible reasons that can explain this.

From their genetics to possible health and behavioral issues, let’s look into some of the reasons as to why your dog might be constantly glued to your side.

Possible Reason Number 1: Separation Anxiety

Terrier laying on sofa

Separation anxiety isn’t a term that should be used lightly.

There’s a difference between your dog enjoying being around you and needing to be around you. With separation anxiety, time apart from you means incredible unrest and mood disruption for your dog.

Separation anxiety and fearfulness can be characterized as your dog becoming overly anxious when you leave- even if it’s only for a minute or two.

Some of the symptoms of separation anxiety- such as whimpering, barking, and nervous pacing- can manifest in your dog’ behavior if you have to leave for work or if you’re going upstairs for the evening.

It could even get as bad as them committing destructive behaviors, such as going to the bathroom inside or otherwise defiling the house!

Possible Reason Number 2: Their Breed

Chihuahua in blue hoodie watching owner

Dogs are championed for their loyalty, but some breeds tend to be clingier than others.

Smaller dogs, such as chihuahuas, are specifically bred for companionship. They love being around people and the attention involved.

Many popular breeds, including Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, also tend to be very attached to their owners.

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This can be nice, knowing your dog is eager to be in your presence. However, there will be times when you need a room to yourself, or you can’t play with them. That’s when their dependency on you might become more apparent.

Possible Reason Number 3: Health Issues

Woman sitting with mini poodle on floor

Dealing with health problems is scary for dogs because they don’t know exactly what’s going on.

They just know that as the dog owner you’re their protector, and will look to you for support. If you have an older dog whose sight or hearing is going out or is otherwise ailing, they might start spending more time around you.

Since you’re a familiar presence, you can be a huge source of comfort for your dog. This can also clue you into their health. Talk to your vet so you can get a better sense of their condition and what can be done to help them.

Possible Reason Number 4: Being Overly Attentive

Man giving attention to Akita dog

Your dog won’t be able to learn independence and self-reliance if you’re always showering them with attention.

It’s important to interact with your dog and show them they’re loved. However, you need to know where to draw the line, lest you become their pet in the process.

When you introduce your dog to your home, give them time to adjust on their own.

Let them find their way around and be able to stay calm even if you’re not there. Avoid giving them rewards for the sake of awards because that could cause further attachment.

Excessive attachment can make your dog only follow you around and ignore other family members or stimulus.

Possible Reason Number 5: Change In Routine

Small dog looking at pregnant woman

Familiarity is important for dogs. When you disrupt their routine and surroundings, they’re prone to become upset.

For instance, if you have to relocate them to sleep in a different room, or if you’re moving to a new place, it can be pretty scary for them.

The one thing they recognize as familiar is you. Therefore, it’s likely they’ll spend more time around you, and this could turn into them becoming a “Velcro dog,” or one that is constantly attached to you.

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This can persist until they’ve gotten used to the new routine and location. However, without intervention, another change in routine could just cause more unease and misbehavior.

What To Do When My Dog Won’t Leave My Side

Woman holding dog in arms

Now that you know some of the biggest causes of clinginess in dogs, let’s talk about what can be done to correct these behaviors.

Avoid Giving Constant Attention

You might see your dog as your child and want to dote on them whenever possible.

However, while you may think you’re showing them love, you’re actually conditioning them to become dependent on your attention. You need to set boundaries through positive reinforcement while also showing your love for them.

Spend time apart from your dog to help them develop their independence.

If they’re sleeping peacefully on the couch, let them rest and enjoy the time you have to yourself.

Need to take a nap yourself? Close the door so they’re not following you in. Enjoy the moments you have together, but don’t make it so either of you is dependent on the other.

Introduce Them To Other People

It’s great if your dog loves being around people, but it’s a problem if they only like being around one person: you. This could cause them to be nervous or hostile around other people. Imagine trying to hire a dog walker or sitter under these conditions.

Let your dog become more familiar with others.

Invite friends over, and have your dog get used to their scent. This can give you a break as well as help your dog become more accustomed to other people. During social events, your dog can become the life of the party.

Learn To Say “No”

Puppy holding onto leg
It’s hard to say no to this face, but you at least have to try.

For creatures that can’t talk, dogs learn to communicate through other means and can be incredibly persuasive.

A slight whine and pleading look in their eyes can be all they need to turn you to putty. But if you’re tending to every desire of your dog, they’ll think you’ll do anything and everything for them. You need to show them that this isn’t the case.

Don’t feed them from the table.

Keep them off the couch if they’re not supposed to be on it.

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If they want to play but you’re preoccupied, stay focused on what you’re doing. Unless your dog clearly needs food or to go outside, it’s okay to say “no.” This can also better establish your role as the master in the household.

It’s totally possible to love your dog without giving in to their every whim. Like with any relationship, boundaries have to be established in order for it to be healthy.

Talk To An Expert

It takes time for your dog to unlearn clingy behaviors.

Don’t expect a Velcro dog to become independent after a week of saying no and decreased attention. However, if you’ve tried on your own for a long time without success, it’s time to consult with an expert.

Schedule an appointment with a qualified professional, such as a pet psychologist or a dog behaviorist.

They should be able to discern specific causes of your dog’s attachment and create a careful treatment plan. This isn’t going to be an instant cure, either. However, it can help steer both of you in the right direction.

In Summary

In the times that I have found that my dog won’t leave my side, I’ve also discovered that it usually boils down to one (or more) of five reasons.

These reasons can include:

  • Separation anxiety
  • The breed of the dog
  • Their immediate health status
  • Myself giving too much attention
  • A big change to their usual routine.

It is important to firstly identify what the behavior is caused by, and then to directly address the issue head-on. Usually this involves some degree of socializing as well as setting healthy boundaries.

If you find yourself unsure of what to do, don’t hesitate to contact your vet or a dog psychologist for help with your clingy pup! Proper space and boundaries mean healthier and happier lives for everyone involved.

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