Dogs are incredibly social animals. They need your attention pretty often, or at least the attention of another dog.
You probably won’t mind spending time with your furry friend most of the time, either. However, some dogs are a little bit too clingy.
Reader Lauren commented on our YouTube “Help me! My dog won’t leave me alone he follows me EVERYWHERE what can I do?”. Well Lauren here are your solutions!
If your dog is following you around everywhere or whining the second that you leave the room, then you have a clingy dog.
Sure, you could say that your dog is just being affectionate, but if it seems to be happening all the time, then your dog has a problem behavior that needs to be dealt with.
On this page, we will give you a couple of tips and tricks that should help encourage your dog to give you a little bit of peace and quiet every so often.
You may not be able to deal with all of their clinginess, but you may be able to deal with it to the point where it causes you less of a headache, or at least we hope that you can.
Table of Contents
What is Attention Seeking Behavior?
Before we talk about dealing with those problem behaviors, it is probably worth talking about whether your dog actually has a problem behavior in the first place. Remember, we did tell you that dogs are social animals.
They do need a bit of attention reasonably regularly. At least a few hours a day, maybe more if you do not have another dog that they can chill out with.
Some of the behaviors we talk about in this section are going to be shared among dogs. Your dog may do some of them, but they may not necessarily be problem behaviors.
The real issue will be if your dog is taking these behaviors to the absolute excess. Like, you never get a moment alone from your dog.
What is not attention-seeking behavior
If your dog wants to be played with or fed, then they are not seeking attention. Dogs do need caring for, after all.
Continually seeking attention IS a problem behavior.
This behavior will become a problem behavior when they are begging all that time AFTER you have fulfilled their needs.
For example, if you have spent hours playing with your pet and still want you to play with them, this is probably attention-seeking behavior.
Suppose your dog seems to be getting enough food, but they are always begging for more. In that case, this is also going to be attention-seeking behavior.
Anything that happens to excess is a significant problem and needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder the issue is going to become to deal with. Your dog will keep getting clingier, and you will never get a respite from them. It isn’t fun. Trust us.
Does your dog follow you or somebody else every time that they leave the room? Does their following behavior seem to be focused on a specific member of the family? Great! This is a major problem behavior, and it is one of the major signs that you have a clingy dog.
Over the following sections, we will talk about how to deal with these problem behaviors. This way, you can nip them in the bud before they get out of hand. Thankfully, if the behaviors have only just started to develop, this will be dead simple.
Dealing With a Dog That Will Not Leave You Alone
There are tons of methods that you can use to deal with a dog that doesn’t leave you alone. You will probably have to use a few of these different methods to really deal with the problem. In fact, we suggest that you try all of them. Because a lot of these methods are going to be closely linked.
Do not punish the dog.
Right off the bat, we have to tell you that you should not be punishing your dog if they seem a little bit clingy. This is only going to be making the problem worse. Remember, the dog is not going to be able to associate your punishment with their behavior.
So, all your dog sees is you punishing them for absolutely no reason. We can’t imagine that is going to be nice for your furry friend.
Everything that you should do should be geared towards rewarding your dog for good behavior. So, if they are not being clingy, then reward them. It will be a lot quicker to train them this way, and you will end up with a happier dog.
It is actually worth noting that punishing a dog can actually be detrimental outside of the clinginess. You see, a dog that gets punished a lot is less-reluctant to let its true feelings known.
Take if the dog pooped in the house, for instance. If they are punished, they are less likely to tell you that they need to use the bathroom in the future. It becomes challenging to cater to their needs.
You also have to remember that there are some times that you do want your dog to pay attention to you. Let’s say, for instance, your dog enjoys a good cuddle. There will be times when you want that cuddle and times when you feel your dog is clingy.
If you are punishing your dog one of the times and rewarding them the other time, then they are going to get incredibly confused. You cannot train a dog if you will be sending mixed messages to them, can you?
Active Behavior Training
Let’s put that reward-based training to use.
Let’s say that you have an insanely clingy dog that wants to follow you every single time that you leave the room. Well, you could train them to sit in a specific spot. This should preferably be their bed, but if you want to crate train them, you will be able to do that too.
The idea is that you encourage your dog to stay in one place when you leave the room. When you return, if they didn’t actually leave the room to follow you, you give them a reward.
Ideally, this should be a treat, to begin with, but then you can move onto vocal praise. Eventually, you can phase all of the rewards out because your dog will be fully trained.
Yes. This will be bribery, but it is going to work insanely well, and it is probably one of the fastest ways to train a dog. Dogs do love to be rewarded, after all.
Only praise them when you want attention from your dog
If you want attention from your dog, then praise them when they come close. If you do not want attention from your dog at that moment in time, then ignore them.
Do not say anything to them.
That is what they want from you. Even a small amount of talking may encourage your dog to stick around. No. This isn’t a punishment. It is training your dog to know that there are only certain times that they can approach you to be praised.
Tire your dog out
A tired dog can’t be clingy, right?
Well, if you take your dog for a long walk in the evening, then chances are that they will be too tired to come close to you. Most clinginess seems to be down to an excess amount of energy. The second you get home, your dog will probably crawl into their bed and stay there for the rest of the evening.
Remember, by walking your dog, you will be giving them some sort of attention. They will absolutely love this!
Distract your dog with toys
Dogs love distractions. So, you should get your dog a decent number of toys to play with.
When it comes to dealing with clingy dogs, puzzle-style toys will probably be the best option. Many of these toys can help to keep a dog nice and busy for hours on end. You may actually want to pick some of these up if you want to leave your dog home alone for more than a few hours.
Bear in mind that while these tips are fantastic for training your dog to be less clingy, this isn’t a problem that you are going to eliminate overnight. We wish it were that simple. It is going to take weeks and weeks of training before you notice an improvement. However, we can 100% promise you that if you are willing to put in the effort and put up with the headaches and frustration, it will be completely worth it.
Avoid leaving the dog alone for long periods.’
Dogs tend to be clingier if they are left alone for hours and hours on end. At most, dogs should be left alone for 4-hours at a time. Anything longer than that, and you will end up with a dog that wants to cling to you every waking moment. There is also a massive chance that they will cause a mess around the house if you do this, but that is out of this page’s scope.
Basically, try to ensure some sort of contact for your dog every 4-hours. Their clinginess will shoot all the way down.
My Dog Won’t Leave Me Alone, Am I Sick?
There are a lot of people that think that a dog that is being clingy is indicating that the owner is sick. We aren’t going to lie. There is some evidence out there that dogs can detect an illness.
However, we can assure you that your dog is unlikely to be clingy because you are sick. This is rare.
They probably just want a little bit of attention from you. We can promise you that if you use this page’s techniques, almost all of that clingy behavior will disappear.
As we said, dealing with a clingy dog is not going to be an easy road. However, it is something that you need to deal with sooner rather than later.
If you can’t deal with the problem behavior in a couple of weeks or at least start to see improvements, then you may want to talk to a vet. It could mean that there is a deeper problem at play that needs to be dealt with.