Most dog owners are used to the feeling of having a constant shadow always lingering two steps behind them. Four-legged companionship at all times is one of the most interesting perks of owning a dog. Who needs personal space when you’ve got a personal bodyguard and cuddle buddy with you at all times, ready to play or protect at a moment’s notice? Or to be there when you fall, tripping over a paw or a tail. Sometimes, it can feel like your pet is purposefully getting in your way to remind you that he is there and that he loves you. So where does your dogs’ persistent desire to be your number one fan and stalker come from?
The Root of the Behavior
Many owners believe that their dogs are simply opportunists - always at their side to catch potential crumbs or clean up any burger residue. While not wrong, there are several other reasons for your dogs’ constant presence by your side. Dogs are highly social and need the companionship. Even more so, dogs get attached and truly love their owners, therefore, they simply want to be around them and spend time with them. Plus, they know that you are the source of all great things - playtime, snack time, walk time, and thus being around you is their way of making sure they don’t miss any of those exciting moments that bring them so much pleasure. They also associate those times of happiness with you and it is one of the reasons why dogs feel most secure when they are around their owner. When you leave, they don’t know where you are and when or if you are ever coming back - hence the habitual PDA overload when you come back home. A dog’s life can be very boring when you are away and when you come back home something is happening again. Your dog has someone to observe and interact with at all times. Some dog breeds such as Bullmastiffs, German Shepherds, and Akita Inus are genetic protectors and need to feel like they are protecting and guarding you at all times. They can’t do that properly if they are more than a couple of steps away from you. It is their way of showing you their loyalty and telling you that they got your back. Lastly, all dogs go through an imprinting period as puppies during which it is very important for them to be with their litter and their mother. During this time, they not only learn about the environment they are in an important behavior from their siblings and parents but also form special bonds with those around them. If your puppy is getting too much attention and affection from you during that time, it could lead him to not socializing with the other animals enough and even possibly growing codependent. It is best for puppies at that stage to have variety and a balance, to be exposed to different animals and people so they don’t get too attached to a single one.
Encouraging the Behavior
Your dog following you around everywhere isn’t going to hurt him. Quite the opposite, the more time your dog spends with you the more he learns about you, your body language, and even your tone of voice. He also gets the companionship he so deeply yearns for and even an occasionally dropped french fry. That bond is not only great for your dog, but can be great for you too! Your dogs’ stalking behavior can make you feel calmer and less lonely. Being around a dog has been proven to help with anxiety, so having a dog pal with you at all times should reduce your stress levels. In addition, if you’ve got an active dog then the playtime can be a good way for you to exercise and that is great for your health. Even if you’ve got a lazy dog, him following you around is a great way for him to exercise and should be encouraged! However, if you have any concerns about your dogs’ stalking, to make sure he doesn’t get too used to being with you 24/7, it is good to praise him from time to time for playing by himself or staying alone in a room without you.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If it doesn’t bother you, let your dog follow you around as there is no reason he should not be able to, unless his behavior is compulsive. No matter how cute the shadowing is, if your dog simply cannot be without you, obsessively follows you around at all times, and is not able to be alone for any long periods of time, he might have developed separation anxiety and the nickname “Velcro dog.” There is a difference between your dog enjoying your company and wanting to be by your side and a dog that cannot live without having you in his sight at all times. Dogs are highly social animals and need to interact with other animals and humans - not just be attached to a single chosen one. If your dog fits into that description, it is best to see a dog trainer and start working on his behavior as his dedication to stalking you could develop into more serious issues in the future.
It is very common for dogs to follow their human parents around. It is how your four-legged bestie shows his loyalty and admiration for you - and makes sure he doesn’t miss any tasty snacks being eaten without him. In most cases it is healthy and completely normal, therefore feel free to enjoy your doggos’ dedication!
By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020