Why Does My Dog Follow Me Around?
8 reasons dogs go everywhere we go.
Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)
Into the bathroom. Under the covers. Where hasn’t your pup followed you? Dogs are naturally social and tend to like to be around their people, which is why we’re not surprised when they seek out our company. Yet, many dogs have a tendency to follow us so consistently and with such enthusiasm that it raises the question, “Why do they do it?” Generally speaking, it usually means they just want to be around us (same same). Perhaps the real question is why they want to be around us … and so close! Here are a few reasons dogs follow us wherever we go.
As mentioned, dogs are social. They form bonds quickly and deeply with the people in their lives, and they tend to want to stick close to those people. Dogs who constantly follow their humans are displaying their sociability and emotional connection.
Dogs want our attention. If we move, they follow, perhaps in the hope that their motion will attract our attention. Even the most loved and cared-for dogs who have lots of daily activities will spend a certain amount of time waiting for the next interesting thing to happen. When we get moving, they presumably view our actions as a sign that the attention they seek is about to be bestowed upon them.
Food! We move when we’re getting ready to feed the them (and ourselves). Therefore, many dogs trot along in eager anticipation of getting a meal, or at least a snack or a little handout.
4. Interest in a walk.
Dogs are generally eager to be on the move, so when we’re in motion, they join us. Of course, just walking around the house isn’t their favorite way to get going. Many dogs seem ever-hopeful that when we get up, we’ll head outside for a real walk with them. This is especially true if we head in the direction of the leash or the door.
5. Worry about being left.
Many dogs associate our movement with departures. When we head to the garage, the car or the front door, our dogs may follow along to monitor the situation, seemingly checking to reassure themselves that we’re not leaving or that, if we are, they’ll be going, too.
Frequently, dogs who are unable to cope with being left alone can’t bear to have us out of their sight. If we leave, they experience a form of panic. Because they’re unable to tolerate being alone, they follow us to be in our constant company and to avoid any separation at all.
Following us gives them something to do. So many dogs are looking for stimulation of any sort — games, food puzzles, walks, training … more of anything that fills their days with joy. Perhaps it’s more interesting to accompany us than just to lie there and watch us. Or maybe they’re just curious.
Reinforcement drives behavior, and good things have happened when they’ve followed us in the past — a play session, an outing, a training session or maybe just some petting. If the relationship is a good one, our dogs associate being around us with feeling happy. Many dogs follow their humans because experience has taught them good things happen when they do.
Karen B. London, PhD
Karen B. London, Ph.D., is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression, and has also trained other animals including cats, birds, snakes, and insects. She writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life.