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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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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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

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
Lucky
Shih Tzu
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lucky
Shih Tzu
1 Year

now matter how i say "sit" he's still following me around

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
528 Dog owners recommended

Hello MJ, First, you need to make sure Lucky understands what Sit means. If you haven't taken time to teach a solid Sit, then check out the video linked below and teach sit using the method that your dog seems to respond to best. Sit: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-golden-retriever-to-sit Next, once he knows what Sit means well, use your body language to block him if he breaks the Sit when you start to walk away. Walk away backwards slowly, and rush toward him with your hand out and palm facing toward him like a traffic cop if he gets up from the Sit position to follow you. As he improves at staying seated the more you practice this, then you can gradually walk further and further away. You will need to build up the distance to longer distances between you and him gradually. Stay consistent and firm but calm and relaxed. You can also teach him a Place command and using a similar traffic cop method teach him to stay on Place. The main difference between Sit-Stay and Place, is that the dog can move around on Place and get more comfortable - but they cannot step off of that small area. With Sit the dog has to stay in the seated position. Both are good commands to teach. Body language for enforcing sit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2DOb5a9FpQ A Place is simply a small rectangular area a bit larger than your dog's body, such as a dog cot, towel, or dog bed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bubba
Shih Tzu
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Bubba
Shih Tzu
4 Months

When I go out to garden and leave him inside he will pee on a floor even if he just 15 minutes ago been outside and done pee. Or if he sit by the door and I not let him out he will pee. He asking to go out every hour or more often.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
528 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mrs. Vaiceliuniene Check out the crate training method from the article linked below. Crate pup when you are not in the house and at the other times the method details. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Freddie
Sringer Poodle
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
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Freddie
Sringer Poodle
1 Year

Whenever my partner or I go out the house he cries or howles until we return which is an issue when we go to work as the neighbours have complained a couple times. How do we get him to stop?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
528 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I am assuming this has been going on for a while given his age. If it's during the first two weeks at your home he may just need time to adjust. If it's past 2-4 weeks or you can't wait for him to adjust on his own due to neighbors before 2 weeks, then I suggest the following. There are a couple of routes you can take with the separation anxiety. The first step is to work on building his independence and his confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into his routine. Things such as making him work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching him to remain inside a crate when the door is open. Change your routine surrounding leaving so that he does not anticipate alone time and build up his anxiety before you leave - which is hard for him to deescalate from, and be sure to continue to give him something to do in the crate during the day (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on); this is the general protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle and by itself is enough to help many dogs; for some dogs it can take a long time and additional training is needed also though. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work quicker for many dogs. Building his independence and structure in his life will still be an important part of this protocol too. First, check out this video from SolidK9Training on treating anxiety. It will give a brief over-view of treating separation anxiety more firmly. This trainer can be a bit abrupt with his teaching style with people but is very experienced working with highly aggressive, anxious, and reactive dogs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Make sure you are implementing what he teaches there in other areas of his life too. Second, purchase a high quality bark collar, such as Dogtra or SportDog. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator and Garmin should also have a vibration mode) or unscented air remote controlled air spray collar. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh and the smell - lingers a long time so the dog continues to be corrected even after they stop the behavior). The vibration or spray collars are less likely to work than stimulation collars though, so you may end up spending more money by not purchasing an e-collar first. Next, set up a camera to spy on him. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear him but he will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Next, put the e-collar on him while he is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. To learn how to put the collar on him, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI If your collar will allow you to set the stimulation manually, turn it to it's lowest level first and gradually go up in levels after at least seven tries at the current level until he responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning his head, moving his ears, biting his fur, moving away from where he was, or changing his expression. If he does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing his reaction at that level until he indicates a little bit that he can feel the collar. Don't expect it to instantly stop the barking - look for any form of reaction - he needs to be taught to stop barking when he feels it still. Once you have found the right stimulation level for him and have it correctly fitted on him, have him wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours or days if you can (take it off at night to sleep though). Next, set up your camera to spy on him while he is in the crate. Put him into the crate while he is wearing the collar and leave. Spy on him from outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear him barking the collar should automatically correct him if it's fitted well. If he does not decrease his barking or escape attempts at least a little bit after being stimulated seven times in a row, then increase the stimulation level by one level. He may not feel the stimulation while excited so might need it just slightly higher. Don't go up more than 3 levels above the level he previously responded too right now just yet - since he is still learning how to be quiet though. If he continues to ignore the collar, make sure that the collar is turned on, fitted correctly, and working. After five minutes to ten minutes, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back inside to the dog, sprinkle several treats into the crate without saying anything, then leave again. Practice watching and listening while the collar corrects the barks from outside, and going back inside and sprinkling treats when he stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, when he is quiet, go back inside and sprinkle more treats. This time stay inside. Do not speak to him or pay attention to him for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When he is being calm, then you can let him out of the crate. When you let him out, do it the way Jeff does is in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want him to be calm when he comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore him when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Also, begin to put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with him. Once he is less anxious he will likely enjoy it and that will help him to enjoy the crate more. First, he probably needs his anxious state of mind interrupted so that he is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give him a food stuffed Kong in the crate for him to relieve his boredom instead of barking, since he will need something other than barking to do at that point. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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