The case of the Velcro dog: What to do when your pup won’t leave your side

Pug looks up from between owner feet

Does your dog shadow your every move, following you around and refusing to let you out of their sight? A clingy canine signals that your pup loves and trusts you. But it can be annoying when they follow you into the bathroom or get in the way while you’re cooking in the kitchen. 

When it comes to your Velcro pup, what’s normal dog behavior and what is problematic? Explore why your furry friend is sticking so close and how you can address it. 

Table of contents 

Reasons your dog is attached to you at the hip 

Some level of closeness with your canine companion is completely normal. As natural pack animals, dogs often prefer to live and travel in a group. The fact that your dog wants to be with you shouldn’t cause any alarm. However, there can be other reasons for their clinginess.  

  1. Boredom – Dogs need both physical and mental stimulation. It’s not hard to believe that being cooped up in the same house every day can get old. It’s possible that your pup is bored and looking to you for stimulation. This may be their way of asking for a playmate or a trip around the block.  
  1. Companionship – As we mentioned, dogs are naturally pack animals and generally like being around familiar people or animals. Your pup may be sticking to you like glue to have a companion.  
  1. Curiosity – “What are you doing, Mom?” Our furry friends are naturally curious creatures and always want to know what you’re up to. Is your pooch following you into the bathroom? That mysterious room is full of interesting smells that your dog can gather important information from. They don’t mean to invade your privacy, they’re just curious.   
  1. Routine – Most dogs are incredibly perceptive when it comes to daily routines and thrive when they have this structure. Your pup knows, even without being able to read the clock, when it’s time for a walk or meal. If you aren’t following your normal routine, your dog’s clinginess might be their way of reminding you or asking you what’s up.  
  1. Age and health – Your pup’s clingy behavior may be an instinct related to their age and or health. Puppies, for example, imprint on their moms to stay safe, learn the ropes, and get food. Once adopted, puppies turn to their humans for this guidance. Older dogs or those born with hearing or vision loss will also likely stick close to their people. This can help them navigate the world around them. Sudden clinginess can signal that your dog is physically unwell. They may be injured or otherwise in pain and need your help.  
  1. Breed – Some breeds are more likely to show signs of being Velcro dogs than others. Herding, pack, and companion dogs, such as Labrador and Golden Retrievers, French Bulldogs, Australian Shepherds, and Chihuahuas, were all traditionally bred to live and work closely with humans. Their affectionate nature has largely stood the test of time, often making them close-knit members of their human families. German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers may also seem clingy, but for a different reason—originally bred as guard dogs, these breeds may show signs of protectiveness over their people.  
  1. Insecurity or stress – Stress is a common issue for dogs. Whether your pup was rescued from an abusive environment, or they simply suffer from generalized stress, mental and emotional trauma may lead to abandonment issues and or extreme attachment and need for protection.  

Are you encouraging your dog to be clingy? 

If your dog is sticking close to you to the point where it’s a problem or you’re getting annoyed, it’s possible that you’re doting on them too much. Giving your pooch positive reinforcement when they do follow you around is conditioning them to do just that—always. You may be unknowingly training your dog to follow you by rewarding them with attention or treats. Dog owners may also notice that in households with multiple humans, dogs can become fixated on one person if they are the one who gives food, attention, playtime, etc. 

You are your dog’s pack leader, so they absorb instructions from you. This is particularly true for puppies, who and young, impressionable, and leaning into their pack instincts. By taking your dog everywhere with you or not providing them with adequate socialization opportunities with other people and animals, you may be inadvertently teaching them to be attached to you at the hip. The American Kennel Club (AKC) also warns that if your dog sleeps in bed with you, you might be creating a dependency and reinforcing their need to be close to you at all times. 

Can sticking close to you be a good thing? 

There are plenty of circumstances in which dog parents encourage and appreciate their affectionate pups wanting to be near them all the time. A significant reason so many owners decide to get a dog in the first place is a desire for companionship. With a dog who doesn’t leave your side, you will always have a sweet soul ready to accept attention at a moment’s notice and a pair of listening ears whenever you need to vent to a captive audience. 

When a pet is by your side, they have the ability to improve your health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Being responsible for a dog encourages you to get outside, exercise, and socialize. Chances are that your dog makes you smile more, stress less, and reduce any feelings of loneliness. All of this can decrease your blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels. The close relationship you have with your pet benefits both of you in so many ways! 

When can a Velcro dog be dangerous? 

Having a Velcro dog that doesn’t leave your side can be cute and endearing, until they pose a tripping hazard when they are close underfoot. If you’re not paying attention, your clingy pup can cause injury for both of you. 

Your dog’s shadow behavior can also signal some issues with separation-related stress. This can result in your pooch acting out when they’re left alone, causing damage to your home and perhaps themselves. So, when is clinginess a behavior problem or a sign of separation issues? 

Experts from AKC note that if your pup is happy and or relaxed around you, that’s a great sign that they simply like being around you. However, if they are scared or panicked when you are on the move, this can be a sign of stress. Separation issues and separation-related stress can appear as: 

  • Aggression 
  • House accidents 
  • Destructive behavior 
  • Whining 
  • Pacing 

Can you train away shadow behavior? 

If you’re concerned or irritated about why your Velcro dog isn’t leaving your side, AKC recommends that you first consult your veterinarian to rule out any potential physical health issues. Once you’ve established that your pooch is healthy and simply loves to smother you, there are ways to train away this Velcro behavior. 

As previously mentioned, dogs need plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation. Providing opportunities for your pup to burn energy will tire them out and typically helps them settle when you’re home together and can’t give them your devoted attention. 

Velcro dogs can be scared dogs. For pups with either generalized or situational stress, you can consider providing your canine companion with a quiet, safe space, whether it be a comfy crate or a cozy bed in the corner of the living room. 

Behavior modification techniques such as desensitization, positive reinforcement, counterconditioning, and redirection can be helpful in teaching your pup to overcome their fear and be confident alone. Start by leaving your pup alone for a short time with a special treat or bone and without making a fuss. Return calmly—it’s no big deal that you left and came back! Repeat this with varying lengths of time away to help your dog associate their time alone with positive experiences and calm behavior. 

Never punish them for following you around! Redirect with another activity or command. In extreme cases, you may need to seek advice from a veterinary professional and or animal behaviorist.  

How can ElleVet’s CBD + CDA help your Velcro pup? 

It’s no secret that regularly being stressed can lead to long-term physical and mental health issues. ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews, soft gels, and oils can offer support for your dog’s general and situational stress, helping put their mind at ease. ElleVet’s Calm & Comfort situational use chews provide maximum support for dogs to calmly address triggers like separation that set off stress-related responses. In addressing your dog’s short-term and or long-term stress, ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA can lead to improved overall well-being. And we all want a happy and relaxed pup! 

For any questions about ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products or how CBD can help your canine friend live their best life, give us a call (844-673-7287) or send us an email ([email protected]). We are here to help.  

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