A clingy dog can drive you crazy. Especially those dogs who are just attached to you at the hip. Unfortunately, like the cat’s 'meow', this is usually a learned behavior. However, your dog can be trained and has some basic dog-decency. That is to say, he is able to learn like a human can learn, basic behavior techniques. Still, sad to say, but they probably learned this from you and your reactions, but there are quite a few things you can do to change the situation! Using a few basic behavioral training techniques you should be able to reduce this!
The Root of the Behavior
Clinginess can be caused by many things. Often it is quite simply a fear of being alone. This can be exacerbated by an unfamiliar environment. Typically, this comes from consistent attention during your dog’s early development. Your dog needs some space to himself, a comfortable environment removed from the heavy traffic areas in your home. This kind of behavior can also come from general anxiety issues. Other medical issues can cause a dog who has not had this behavior before to start becoming clingy if they have fallen ill. Dogs suffering sight loss in elderly years often react in this manner, but other illness can cause similar behavior.
Clingy behavior can often come from pure boredom. Having things to do around the house can make a big difference. Exercise can reduce this but they really need something to engage in. Try simple games they can play and try and provide them with toys they can enjoy. If your female dog has not been spayed, she could be in heat. This can cause female dogs to become more affectionate and clingy.
General fear and anxiety could be causing this as well. Certain times of the year can cause your dog to be clingy due to extra stimulus in your environment. Fireworks, parades near you, or loud and unfamiliar music can cause them to retreat back to familiarity, which is you. Try to give them a familiar environment away from the sights and sounds. Play some light classical music to calm them and mask the sound.
A dog entering the later years of their lives may retreat to you as a sense of familiarity during the years of cognitive decline. It is natural to enter older age. Try pulling out an old teddy bear or blanket they use to like a lot. A bit of nostalgia can go a long way! Stress is a factor that can affect dogs in a variety of ways. They can also get stress and anxiety from you, it passes to them like a cold. Try to keep things a bit more calm around them. New people or animals in the house can cause this but if it is caused by sources like this, time will reduce that behavior naturally.
Encouraging the Behavior
The way you interact with your dog each day is really going to dictate how they behave each day. If you often wrestle or play aggressively, they are going to be aggressive. If you give them nothing to do they will be bored, and if you pet them all day every day, they will expect it on the one day you do not have the time. Give your dog some toys they can entertain themselves with and plenty of exercise each day.
Try and reduce some of the stress of their lives and move their areas to less trafficked places in your home. If the change is sudden it may be a health problem and you should contact your veterinarian if they have any other symptoms.
Make sure they have ways to occupy their time and make sure they are getting properly fed. Different breeds are more susceptible to anxiety. Sleep deprivation can also cause behaviors like this, so make sure they are sleeping properly. Your vet or trainer can tell you more about what is causing the clingy behavior for your pet. Maybe your dog needs a friend. Just something to consider as they do tend to occupy each other’s time with games and the like.
Other Solutions and Considerations
You can train them to go to designated areas on demand, and a local trainer should be able to break down the best training approach for you and your lifestyle. Make sure their space has things they enjoy occupying their time. Separation anxiety can be a symptom of many different conditions, from your dog having a common cold to more serious mental deficiencies. REM behavior disorders can cause nightmares that can cause lack of sleep and high-stress levels. There are ways to reduce your dog’s nightmares as well! Anxiety can be influenced by your behavior. If you are yelling at the sports game on television, your pet is likely to get all amped up too.
If your dog is suffering from chronic symptoms, contact a veterinarian to see what else you can do. Clingy behavior is no real threat from your dog, and easily correctable provided it is not a symptom of a larger problem. Give him some space to run and have fun and it should really help!