If your dog is very attached to you this post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about it.
So, why is my dog so attached to me? Possible reasons why your dog is so attached to you are that it is looking for more attention, it has separation anxiety, mistreatment when it was younger or it could be the case that you have been rewarding the behavior.
There are actually a number of reasons why your dog might be highly attached to you and it could be a combination of multiple reasons. However, there are also a number of things you can consider when trying to figure out the exact reason.
Why your dog is so attached to you
Each of the different causes will likely come with a number of clues. Below, I will show you a number of reasons why it might be attached to you and what would make them more likely.
It wants attention
The cause could be that it is looking for attention from you. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of exercise, training and by playing with it but to try and avoid rewarding it with attention when it becomes obsessive.
Related: Why does my dog sit at my feet?
It could be the case that it does it naturally. This would be more likely if it is a breed that is known for being overly affectionate and if it has always done it. In this case, you could try using positive reinforcement training to get it to learn to behave in a way that you want it to.
It might be the case that it does it because it has separation anxiety. This would be more likely if it does it more when you are about to leave home and if it becomes anxious when you are leaving home.
In this case, it would help to train your dog to be less anxious when you are leaving home and when you are away.
To do this you could do as follows:
- Make it seem like you are about to leave by doing something such as picking up your keys
- Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat these two steps a few times
- Make more moves towards actually leaving such as by picking up the keys and putting your hand on the door handle
- Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat the process a few times
- Actually open the door and go outside for a few moments then come back and reward your dog
- Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer
Reinforcing the behavior
It could be the case that you have trained it to be attached to you by giving it things that it wants when it is attached. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats when it behaves in an attached way then it will likely do it more in order to get those rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want and to use positive reinforcement training to get it to behave the way you want as mentioned below.
Mistreatment when it was younger
The cause could be that someone mistreated it when it was younger and it now doesn’t like being left alone. This would be more likely if you adopted it from a shelter.
In this case, it might start being less attached as it gets older and you can still do the training tips below. If the over-attachment is bothering you then you could also consider getting help from a dog behaviorist.
Things to consider
When your dog started being attached to you
It would help to consider when your dog started being overly attached since it might have started doing it due to an event that occurred.
Things that may have happened could include:
- Moving home
- Someone left home
- Another pet died
- Someone was aggressive towards it
When and where your dog is attached to you most
It would also help to consider whether or not there is a certain time that it tends to become more attached.
For example, if it tends to become more attached or anxious when you are leaving home then it would suggest that it does it due to separation anxiety.
How to stop your dog from being so attached to you
Below are a number of options you have when trying to get it to be less attached to you.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training involves training your dog to behave in a certain way by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way.
To use it to get your dog to be less attached you would stop giving it attention when it is too attached and then reward it when it shows signs of being less attached.
Avoid negative reinforcement training
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have encouraged it to be attached by giving it things that it wants when it is attached.
Instead, it would help to recognize when it is likely to start being attached and to redirect its focus onto doing something else such as playing with a toy before it starts being attached.
Give it attention throughout the day
It would also help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it so that it doesn’t feel the need as much to get it from you.
Avoid leaving it for extended periods
In order to limit its separation anxiety, it would help to avoid leaving it alone for a long time. This means that it would help to come back and see it quickly on your lunch break if possible.
Give it lots of exercise
If your dog is a breed that is meant to get a lot of exercise on a daily basis then it would help to make sure that it gets enough exercise daily. Giving it exercise will help to keep it stimulated and make it less likely to start seeking attention from you.
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