When you get a dog, you know you’re signing up for a friendship like no other. Your dog will be your loyal and constant companion through life, your protector, and your joy. But what happens when your pooch takes ‘constant companion’ a little too literally and strives to be closer to you than even your own shadow?
It’s great to have a furry sidekick as you navigate life, but it can get a little too claustrophobic and difficult to navigate when your pooch is constantly underfoot. A dog that’s always by your side is awesome, a dog that insists on being on you constantly can become a nuisance quite quickly. In this article you will find your answers to such questions:
- Why does my dog sit on me?
- Velcro dog
- 15 clingy dog breeds
- How to make your dog less clingy
- How to help a clingy senior dog
Why does my dog sit on me?
It’s all fine and well when your puppy curls up for a nap on your lap. It’s an entirely different ballgame when your 120-pound Tibetan mastiff wants to sit on your lap. Why do dogs sit on you? Why do dogs lay on you? Why do dogs sleep at your feet?
Dogs are very social pack animals, so it’s fairly normal for them to want to be near you whenever they can. But a dog that constantly wants to be on you and that follows you constantly, can be cause for concern. There are a number of reasons that your dog likes to sit on you:
Some dog breeds are very loyal and affectionate and want to be near their owners as much as possible.
For small breeds like Shih Tzus and chihuahuas, a lap is a comfortable, warm place to hang out. Not only is it snug, but it’s raised up and out of harm’s way, which is really beneficial to these small breeds who spend a great deal of time close to the ground. They’re not called lapdogs for nothin’.
Certain larger dog breeds also crave this level of affection, but it’s significantly less adorable when one of these dogs tries to get overly cuddly with you. These gentle giants will often try to channel their inner lap dog despite being significantly too large for the gig. The good news is that these dogs can be trained to not attempt lap-doggery of any kind if it becomes problematic.
Dogs are deeply emotional creatures and sometimes they also just want a good cuddle or some physical closeness with their favorite human. Does your dog sit on you? Does your dog sleep at your feet? Maybe your pupper just wants to feel close to you. Physical contact is an important part of your relationship with your dog, helping to form strong bonds.
Dogs are extremely territorial. Commonly, dogs will urinate on things that they want to claim as theirs. Thankfully, there are other ways that dogs use their scent to communicate ownership to other dogs.
Your dog sitting on your lap can also be an attempt to spread its scent on you, thereby letting other dogs know you’re taken. While it may be annoying, it’s certainly preferrable to being peed on.
Rubbing their scent on you is a very common dog behavior, particularly if there are other pets or children around. The presence of these perceived threats usually explains why your dog is suddenly being very clingy. If you come home from visiting friends and your dog smells their dog on you, this is likely to happen.
While dogs take their duties as your protector very seriously, they also know that it goes both ways. You are your pooch’s sole source of food and love, so they want to make sure that they stay informed of your movements. They’d be willing to follow you to the ends of the earth because they know you take such good care of them, and they’d be lost without you.
Dogs can be needy too. When your dog follows you around and lays at your feet, it may be its way of asking for some attention. As pack animals, affection and physical closeness are important parts of canine bonding. As your dog’s pack leader, it’s important that you spend regular time with your canine companion. Playtime, tummy rubs, and even walks are the kind of attention that your dog is probably craving.
If your dog is sitting on you as a show that it is more dominant than you, you may have a problem on your hands that needs to be addressed. This shift in the power balance can lead to your dog developing aggressive traits, growling at you, or worse, biting.
Revisit your dog training or call in a behaviorist to help you set the power balance right in your relationship with your dog. The sooner, the better.
What is a Velcro Dog? How do you know if you have a Velcro Dog?
Velcro dog is a term used to describe an overly clingy dog. If your dog follows you every second of every day, to the point that you never have a moment alone, you have a Velcro dog. If your dog follows you more closely than your own shadow and you find that sometimes you even trip over your pup, you have a Velcro dog. If your dog is stuck to you as if my invisible Velcro, you, my friend, have a Velcro dog.
Is Velcro dog the same as separation anxiety?
While the two are similar, they do are not the same. A Velcro dog wants to be by your side at every possible moment. A dog with separation anxiety experiences panic and emotional distress when you’re not around.
A dog with separation anxiety can be a Velcro dog, but it isn’t a given that a Velcro dog will suffer separation anxiety.
What causes my dog to be a Velcro dog?
So, if it isn’t separation anxiety, what makes a dog so clingy? The truth here is that Velcro dogs become that way through their owners encouraging them to be clingy.
Consistently praising your dog and giving them treats every time they see you, will give the signal to your dog that every time they approach you, they’ll get praise and treats. The more you reward a behavior, the more you encourage it to continue.
Does your dog sleep in your bed? This may be creating a dependency in your dog and causing them to feel the need to be near you all the time.
Past traumas can also cause your dog to be clingy. A rescue dog has a higher likelihood of becoming a Velcro dog because they may have been abandoned before and fear this happening again.
Older dogs can become clingy as they begin to lose their sight and hearing, while a dog that is bored and understimulated simply has nothing better to do than to follow you around all the time.
15 clingy dog breeds
Certain dog breeds are much clingier than others. These very loyal canines make amazing companions and will smother you with affection.
However, if you value your independence or don’t deal well with guilt every time you leave the house, perhaps rethink getting one of these Velcro dog breeds.
- Hungarian Vizsla
- Labrador Retriever
- Border Collie
- Golden Retriever
- German Shepard
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Italian Greyhound
- Doberman Pinscher
- Great Dane
- French Bulldog
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
How to make your dog less clingy
Dogs thrive within a structured environment with firm and consistent boundaries. In this relationship, you are the pack leader and should therefore lead your dog to behave correctly. If you have a Velcro dog that isn’t suffering from separation anxiety, there are many ways to reinforce and train new behaviors to reduce your dog’s clinginess.
Ah, this ol’ chestnut! It’s one of the first and most important commands you’ll learn at puppy school - stay. If your pup follows you constantly, focusing on the ‘stay’ command can be extremely helpful. Teach your dog to stay at a distance and reward them for exhibiting the desired behavior.
Start off with a small distance, and slowly increase this over time, each time heaping praise and a treat for successfully staying. If you need a little outside help, ask your vet to recommend a good dog behaviorist who can help.
Does your dog react every time you stand up as if you’re going somewhere and they’re going to follow? Dogs learn our behaviors so that they can predict our movements. These reactions are learned over time, and just as they were learned, they can be unlearned.
Certain of your actions will trigger a response from your dog. For example, when you turn the tv off, they jump up because this means you’re going somewhere. Or when you put your shoes on, your dog thinks you’re going out. Spend some time observing which triggers your dog reacts to.
Then, practice those triggers without going anywhere. Practice these behaviors repeatedly and often so that eventually your dog stops reacting to them. Over time, the trigger will lose its meaning and your dog will no longer react.
There’s a saying that a tired dog is a good dog. If your dog is properly tuckered out after exercise, the chances are better that they won’t be following your every move. If your dog has the energy to follow you around wherever you go, then it’s likely they could use more exercise to expend all that extra energy.
A dog that’s had a good workout will be too tired to care if you get up to go to the bathroom and won’t be as likely to follow you in.
Ensuring that your dog receives enough physical exercise is equally as important as ensuring that your dog receives enough mental stimulation. Problem-solving and obedience work are super important in maintaining an active brain and help to keep your dog from getting bored. Bored dogs are way more likely to get up to no good or follow you around incessantly.
Practice simple obedience exercises, teach your dog a new trick, and even try hide and seek games. These exercises are a great way to stimulate your pooch’s brain. Even simply playing tug or throwing a ball will challenge your dog mentally. Snuffle mats and puzzle toys are well worth the investment to keep your dog mentally stimulated.
Create a special place
Create a dedicated space in the home that is solely for your dog. Put your dog’s bed there, any favorite blankets and toys, and really make it their special place.
Then, train your dog to go to their special place on command instead of following you around. Reward them with oodles of praise and love and a treat when they go to their special place, and soon your dog won’t be scurrying behind your every move.
How to help a clingy senior dog
As dogs age, they can lose their hearing and their vision which is both frightening and disorienting. There are many ways that you can support your aging friend through this. As your dog loses these senses, it’s likely they will become clingier and more reliant on you.
If your dog’s eyesight is going, try to keep the house as well-lit as you possibly can so they don’t struggle too much to get around. Your dog has probably memorized the layout of the house, so avoid making any sudden or drastic changes to the placement of things. Try to keep all the furniture in the same place to avoid accidents and your dog feeling vulnerable and disoriented.
Ensure you continue to stimulate your aging pooch with puzzles and toys to keep their minds sharp and support their brain health. Chat to your vet about supplements that can support your companion in their twilight years.