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Why Is My Dog So Attached to Me? 5 Possible Reasons

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

A happy and smiling women laying in the grass with her dog licking her face

Why Is My Dog So Attached to Me? 5 Possible Reasons

Dogs didn’t get the nickname “Man’s Best Friend” for nothing. The domestic dog evolved as a pack animal, which includes their human companions, so it’s natural for them to follow you around and want to be with you.

Though this behavior can be lovable, sometimes it’s an indication of a problem. Often called “Velcro dogs,” a dog that’s too clingy could be due to a dysfunction. Here are five reasons your dog may be so attached to you.


Why Is My Dog So Attached to Me?

1. Learned Behavior

welsh corgi cardigan dog and his owner
Image Credit: Krichevtseva, Shutterstock

Clinginess in dogs is often a reinforced behavior because of the way you interact. For example, if your dog learns that following you into the kitchen means it gets a scrap of food or a treat, you’re teaching it that sticking around you can lead to a reward. It doesn’t even have to happen every time, just enough to be worth the effort for your dog.

While puppies are developing, giving them too much attention and allowing them to be clingy can quickly shift from healthy companionship to separation anxiety. Be mindful of how much you reinforce this behavior. You want a confident dog, not a dog that’s afraid to be without you.

2. Illness

Dogs who are suffering from an illness can become clingier. If you’re noticing sudden clinginess in your dog, especially coupled with other symptoms, speak with your vet about the behavior.

Older dogs that experience a decline in vision, hearing, or cognitive abilities may become clingier as well. You represent safety to them when their familiar environment suddenly becomes strange.

3. General Anxiety

Dog Anxiety
Image credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

Dogs with anxiety often become clingy out of fear or stress. If you notice other signs of anxiety in your dog, such as compulsive licking, trembling, or destructive behaviors, this could be the cause. Sudden changes, such as adding new pets to the home or making changes to the routine, could also trigger anxiety and stress.

Some dogs are more sensitive to their humans, so they may respond with clinginess if you seem stressed, anxious, or upset.

4. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a specific type of anxiety that’s different from being clingy. It’s a constant, excessive concern that a dog has about being left alone or separated from its owner. Left unaddressed, separation anxiety can cause dogs to engage in distress or destructive behaviors like pacing, whining, chewing, or inappropriate soiling in the house.

When a dog is clingy, it may follow you around or want to be with you. Separation anxiety causes panic at being left alone, which goes beyond just wanting to be at your side. Clinginess can progress to separation anxiety, however, and often has subtle signs of anxiety or panic that escalate over time. Usually, this needs to be treated with a combination of medication and behavioral modifications.

5. Breed

young woman owner with her cute Jack Russell Terrier at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Some breeds are simply more attached to their owners than others. Toy and small breeds—lap dogs—tend to be needier than others. Breeds that are taught to be dependent on the owner through training may also show more clinginess. Herding and working breeds can become clingy, though many are known for independence.


How to Help Your Dog Develop Independence

Normal clinginess with a healthy dog isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. But, if you prefer your dog to be more independent, you can work on some training methods.

Keep in mind that separation anxiety is a different situation and requires more intensive modification than simple clinginess.

Here’s how:

  • Increase mental and physical stimulation to occupy your dog. Be sure to speak with your vet about what exercise is appropriate for your dog’s age and health. You can try a brisk walk, some games of fetch in the yard, puzzle toys, scent training, and teaching tricks to tire your dog out and teach independence.
  • Teach a “place” command. If your dog has a crate or bed, that’s perfect for teaching “place.” If not, choose a spot in your home and set it up with a bed or blanket and toys. Then, train your dog to go to that area with “place” as the cue, then reward your dog. Be consistent.
  • Desensitize your dog to your regular routine. Dogs learn well with the right conditions, so they will associate certain behaviors with rewards, or when you leave the house, such as picking up your car keys. Think about these triggers and practice them without following through on the rest of the activity.

For example, if your dog always follows you into the kitchen because it usually means getting table scraps or a treat, go into the kitchen and don’t offer a treat or any food. Instead, start cleaning or organizing. If you do want to give your dog a treat, replace the kitchen with its place and offer the treat there. Eventually, your dog will realize that your daily routine is “boring.”

While it’s good for your dog to have some independence and confidence on its own, avoid cutting off your connection completely. Both of you need to bond, so while you’re teaching your dog to spend more time alone, make sure you’re balancing it with bonding activities like walks or play time.



Dogs are partners and companions. That’s why many people get a dog. Having a mentally healthy pup means finding a good balance of independence and bonding time to give your dog more confidence on its own without compromising your relationship.

Featured Image Credit: Jennay Hitesman, Shutterstock

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