How to Train Your Dog to Stop Following You

Medium
1-2 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’ve just walked into the house after a long and stressful day, your hands are full of shopping and you just want to quickly put it all away so you can collapse on the sofa. Unfortunately, though, your canine companion can’t help but follow you around the kitchen, making the task frustrating, to say the least. You love him but he sure is on the needy side. He’s the same when you’ve got guests over. You want some peace and quiet to enjoy a romantic date night in, but he insists on following you into every room and wants to be the solo audience for your every move.

Training him to stop following you will afford you some well-deserved peace and quiet. This training will also be good for him, reducing separation anxiety and making leaving him to go on vacation easier too.

Defining Tasks

Training isn’t as challenging as you might think. You’ll need to motivate your dog to spend time on his own and reduce his need to be with you constantly. To do that, you’ll have to mix up his routine and find some ways to keep him happily distracted. If he’s a puppy then the habit will be relatively new and it may take just a week or so to train him to stop following you. If he’s older and been stuck to your side for a number of years, then you may need a couple of weeks to fully kick the habit.

Training him to stop following you will be more than worth it when you finally have some alone time to enjoy a bath and a glass of wine. You’ll also find in the long run he’ll be happier too if he’s not constantly dependant on you.

Getting Started

Before you set about stopping your canine stalker, you’ll need to get your hands on a few things. Break his favorite food into small pieces or stock up on treats. You’ll need a short leash and some baby gates for one of the methods.

Food puzzles and toys will also be required. Then set aside 10 minutes a day for the next couple of weeks. Try and find a time where you won’t be distracted by noisy kids (I know it’s easier said than done).

With all of those boxes ticked you can get to work!

The Routine Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Exercise
It may not seem related, but many dogs follow owners simply because they’re full of energy and want to dispel that with you. Giving him an extra, or longer, walk each day will help ensure he’s napping when he’s at home, not stuck to you like Velcro. If you can’t walk him any more, throw a toy for him to fetch while on walks, the short sprints will quickly tire him out.
Step
2
Food puzzles
You can get food puzzles online and from local pet stores. They can keep him occupied for hours as he digs and licks to get to the tasty food inside. This will help him slowly realize that he doesn’t need to be with you all the time.
Step
3
Attention
Set specific times where you give him attention. Give him an hour period in the evening say, where you play with him, cuddle him and mess around with him. Then after that, give him the cold shoulder. It’s important he gets his fill of attention, but that he also realizes attention is on your terms when you say so.
Step
4
No sleeping next to him
If you share a bed in the evening, then you’re feeding his need to be with you. Get him a nice comfy bed and put it in a completely separate room. Several hours every night alone will slowly teach him he can survive without you.
Step
5
Baby gates
They’re quick and easy to fit and they’ll break his needy habit. You’ll be granted guaranteed privacy whenever the gate is shut and it will again help him learn he doesn’t have to be at your side. Use all of these steps and he’ll slowly become more independent and give you some peace.
Recommend training method?

The ‘Stay’ Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Treats
When there’s nobody else in the house, get a pocketful of treats ready. You’re going to teach him the ‘stay’ command so you can quickly get some peace and quiet if he’s following you around.
Step
2
‘Stay’
When he’s following you, stop walking, turn around and face him, then give a ‘stay’ command in a firm voice. You can use any word or phrase you like, just try and keep it relatively short.
Step
3
Hand signal
As you give the command, hold your hand up to his face as if you were a traffic warden. This 'stop' hand gesture coming towards him will automatically make him halt, even if it’s just for a second.
Step
4
Reward
As soon as he stops, give him a tasty treat and some verbal praise. Really make sure he knows he’s done something right, even if he’s not sure what yet. Now repeat this training for 10 minutes each day, but steadily increase the length of time you leave him waiting there before you give him a treat. Continue until he waits there for at least a minute.
Step
5
Lose the hand
Once he’ll wait there for a while, you can stop using the hand gesture. By now he associates the behavior with the command so the gesture is redundant. Carry on practicing, but now start walking away and leaving him waiting there. You can use this whenever he starts following you, it will be a clear signal to him that you need some space.
Recommend training method?

The Habitat Method

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Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Territory
He follows you around everywhere you go because he knows the whole house is his territory. This needs to change. Find a section of the house and make that his territory, then use doors and baby gates to prevent him going in some parts of the house. Then you’ll always be able to head to your no-dog zone without being followed.
Step
2
Behavior
Don’t let him lie at your feet constantly. This constant proximity will only make him want to follow you more. Try and get some distance between you when you’re sat down. Lie on the sofa while he lies underneath it, for example.
Step
3
Obedience training
Spend a few minutes each day training him to do something. You could train him to ‘sit’, lie ‘down’, ‘roll over’. All will use up his energy and tire him out. A tired dog is a happy dog. He’ll be retiring to his bed in the evening to sleep, not frog marching you around the house.
Step
4
Desensitize
Every time you get up and he gets up too, sit back down. This may be time-consuming and annoying, but he’ll soon get fed up of constantly getting up. Eventually, he won’t be sure if you getting up means you’re going anywhere so he’ll stop following your lead.
Step
5
Never punish him
Don’t shout at him or punish him when he does follow you. All this will do will scare him, then he’ll be even more keen to win your affection back by stalking you around the house. The quiet, cold shoulder approach is always more effective.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ranger
Australian Shepherd
7 Months
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Question
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Ranger
Australian Shepherd
7 Months

Had him for one mo. We will start training him to be a service dog for my husband, through the VA. However, trying to stop bad habits now, and not encourage bad behavior. He needs to be prepared to follow husband, but not under my feet 24/7. He will need to be in our room. But not in our bed. Howls loudly if left alone for more than 5 minutes

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Bobbie, I would have your husband practice the Turns method for heeling - to teach pup to follow without leaning into him or getting under him while walking. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel I would teach Place and Crate train to get pup used to sleeping in the room but not in the bed. Once pup is okay being confined in the crate, you can transition to no crate by leaving the door open, then taking the bed in the crate out and having pup just sleep there, but you might need to use the crate at first if pup is insistent or sneaking onto the bed while you are asleep and can't train. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s For the barking when left alone, first, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. Once pup is doing well with you in the house in another room, use a camera to spy on pup from outside. Start going outside where pup can't see or hear you. When pup barks, return to quietly correct then go back outside again. When pup gets quiet and stays quiet, initially for a couple of minutes, gradually working up to longer periods, then return to sprinkle in treats then leave again. After 30 minutes of practice, gradually working up to three hours, return when pup is quiet, ignore pup in the crate for 10 minutes until they are waiting calmly while go about your business in the home (correct if pup gets really loud and isn't settling down on their own). When pup is being patient and quiet in the crate, let pup out calmly. If pup tries to rush the door, close it again, making pup wait. Practice this until pup is waiting inside with the crate door open. At that point, happily tell pup "Okay" and let them come out calmly. You want to set that expectation of staying calm as they exit, so they don't get into the habit of getting anxious and excited in anticipation of being let out. As pup improves when you are outside, work that time up until you have worked up to you being outside for three hours and pup staying quiet the whole time. At that point, you can give pup a dog food stuffed chew toy in the crate. They will probably enjoy it once they are calm enough to focus on that for entertainment. Once pup is okay left alone in the crate, you can also practice this with pup not crated, but still using the camera to spy on pup, with pup left in another room with that door closed, told to stay on place while you leave the room, or outside in a fence and wanting to come back inside, ect...I would start with pup in the crate though. That tends to work best for the initial training, then you can expand on it as pup improves to transition. When pup is getting to close to someone he shouldn't be following around and they need space, or pup needs to be near your husband instead of someone else, I would teach pup Out, and have the person pup is trailing use the Out command to tell pup to move away from them, then your husband can reward pup for heeling and staying closer to him instead. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Toby
Shar Pei
5 Years
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Question
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Toby
Shar Pei
5 Years

Toby is fine being left at home alone and doesn't display any sort of separation anxiety. He's well behaved and mostly an ideal dog apart from the constant following. I can't get any breathing space from him which is making me resent him. Ie won't spend any time outside without barking to come in and if I put him in the hallway where his bed is he constantly kicks the living room door to come back in. He sleeps down stairs at bed time without any issue but If I left the baby gate open I would find him next to my bed in the morning. I'm at the point where I'm sending him to stay at my mom's for a few days just to get some space. Feels ridiculous saying I need space from my dog but it's honestly causing a big impact on my life. Especially trying to homeschool the kids during this lockdown and having no peace from them either.
I don't want to hate my dog but at the moment I don't like him.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hayley, I recommend teaching pup a 1 hour Place, Down Stay, Out, Quiet, and crate training, so that you can then calmly instruct pup where to go and work on their independence. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ To start, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below to introduce the crate. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. The quiet command and follow through can also be used for the outside barking and any hallway noise. Command quiet, reward if pup stays quiet, correct if pup continues barking, leaving between rewards and corrections, giving pup as little attention in the process as you can to keep things calm. You can also give pup dog food stuffed hollow chew toys like kongs, kong wobbles with pup's kibble in them, or use automatic treat dispensing devices, to encourage pup to entertain themselves and enjoy their place better (place is often pup's dog bed but can be any consistent rug/furniture/ location you teach). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Nino
Maltese Lhasa Apso mix
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Nino
Maltese Lhasa Apso mix
5 Months

He follows me everywhere, i understand he is young, but sometimes i feel so bad because for example he'll be sleeping and i need to go do something, he gets up from his sleep and follows me. But i dont want this i just want him to keep sleeping and let me do my things.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! You may want to teach your dog to go to it's place or to bed on command. Decide on a command word to use. Using one word tends to work best. "Place" is frequently used, but "bed" or "mat" work fine, too. Lure Your Dog Start off by standing close to the bed or mat that will serve as your dog's place. Give the command "place," and then use a treat to lure the dog onto its spot. As soon as all four feet are on the mat, praise your dog or click the clicker and give it a treat. Repeat this several times. Most dogs will go to the bed or mat on command after a few short training sessions. Add the Down Once your dog is putting all four feet on the mat or bed when you give the command, begin asking it to lie down. Give the command "place," and as soon as the dog gets to the mat, give the command "down." It may take a few minutes to comply the first few times, but after a few practice sessions, your dog should lie down automatically when it gets to the mat after you give the "place" command. Once the dog's done this several times, it should only be getting treats and praise when it lies down after you give the "place" command. Increase the Time Now that your dog is consistently lying down on its mat after you give the "place" command, you can increase the amount of time it spends there. To do this, slowly add a few seconds before offering the treat after it responds to the command. As you see progress, slowly add more small increments of time. If your dog makes a mistake and gets up from its place before you give it the treat, give the "place" command again, and go back to the last point where your dog was successful. By slowly adding to the amount of time your dog stays in its place, you will soon be able to give the command and have it stay in its place while you go about whatever you were doing.

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Question
Joji
Feist
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Joji
Feist
1 Year

Whenever he is lying on the couch and I go to pet him he pees or if he gets scared or excited he pees. I'm so tired of everything being peed on.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Often when a dog submissive pees, it is because there is a lack of confidence. In this case, it is recommended that you always approach the dog at their level. In that case, don't pat Joji when he is on the couch. On the bright side, dogs often outgrow submissive peeing - unless there is a deeper reason, of course. Have you spoken to the vet about a checkup to rule out a medical issue? How is Joji around other dogs? Taking him to activities to be socialized often helps with the confidence he needs. As well you can try the methods here such as the What NOT to do Method. https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-submissive-peeing. All the best and good luck!

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Question
Sadie
Dachshund
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sadie
Dachshund
5 Years

Hi there, I just adopted a dachshund from a rescue, she was used as a breeder dog for many years and has only known life at the breeder’s house. She is very submissive and will immediately crouch and roll over (with a low tail that’s wagging) if you come near her. She will accept treats and food from my hand. She is not bothered by and doesn’t seem to mind the three 60-lb hounds that my roommate owns and live in the home. She’s been at my home for one day. I’ve been teaching her that her crate is her safe place, and she slept all night in her bed in the crate (even with the door open). I left for about 2 hours and my roommate reported that Sadie gives a sad howl at being left alone in the crate. She mostly ignored the Kong, I think the peanut butter was too much stimulus. When I am home, she insists on following me around the house and will not go into a new room or outside without me going first. We had a baby gate to keep her and the big dogs separated while they were getting adjusted and she would whine softly if I left her line of sight. I know that this is all very new to her and she needs time to adjust, but I am wondering how to build her confidence. I do not want to encourage bad habits as I work to build her trust. I want her to feel safe without me and would like her to be independent enough to spend a small amount of time in the fenced backyard alone. Likewise, Sadie has never been asked to “work” for treats and gets confused about pairing a treat with a command. For instance, if I hold up a treat for her to sit (the other 3 dogs modeling) she just walks around the treat and hasn’t figured out how to think. Any tips would be greatly appreciated! I’m getting her two food puzzles today and am willing to try anything! Thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Victoria, A bit of structured obedience, games that require overcoming obstacles and learning new things - like make-shift agility obstacles, and practicing exercises that build independence are all things I suggest working on. For the structured obedience, start by teaching a structured heel command. Check out the Turns method from the article linked below, practicing somewhere like the backyard first, so it's calm. That method uses a lot of body language to help her learn, opposed to just treat lures. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel For the agility, you can join a class or club, or you can simply buy or create your own obstacles - like kids tunnels to go through, pole jumps made out of PVC, things to weave around, jump onto, ect... Simply working her through some basic obstacles in a fun way can help, and you can make the obstacles harder as pup improves to build on what she has learned. The biggest thing I would recommend is working on the independence building. Teach pup a Place and Down-Stay command. Using a long leash or back-tie leash to gently lead pup into position. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Work up to pup staying on Place for up to an hour. When pup can stay there for a longer period of time, also work up to pup being able to stay while you leave the room - starting with a few seconds, and working up to minutes overtime. Use the back-tie leash to ensure pup can't get off place but keep the leash loose enough that pup won't feel it tug unless they get off Place. When pup stays put, return, place a treat between their paws, then step away again. This will look like a lot of walking back and forth toward pup to remind pup not to get off Place - keeping the distance and timing at the amount pup can handle - but is kind of challenging for them. It sounds like you are doing a good job with pup overall. There will be a lot for pup to learn with their history, and pup will need guidance from you, but there are certainly some great signs that pup is adapting, like getting along with people and other dogs this soon. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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