A dog’s everlasting devotion is one of the best traits of their species. However, it is possible for your dog to be too clingy – a Velcro dog that sticks to you everywhere you go.
You might not mind if your dog rests their head in your lap every time you sit to watch television, but it becomes a problem if they exhibit destructive behaviors due to separation anxiety.
You can enjoy your dog’s devotion while helping them learn, at their own pace, to make their own comfort and fun.
Why Your Clingy Dog Won’t Leave You Alone
Some breeds are more genetically predisposed to be clingy. Lapdogs like Chihuahuas and Pugs tend to become very attached to their humans. People-pleasing dogs like Labrador Retrievers may also be clingy. However, personality types vary across all dogs, even of the same breed.
Sometimes, dogs are simply clingy because we allow them to be, by giving them a little too much attention. The acceptable amount of clinginess is truly up to you; if it’s becoming a problem, you may need to cut back on petting them every time they’re near.
It’s important to set boundaries. You can train your dog to go to their bed or crate when they’re getting underfoot. If you ignore excessively clingy behaviors, such as your dog whining or pawing at you for attention, eventually, they will stop.
Understand Your Dog’s Possible Fear Or Pain
If clinginess is a new behavior, it might be your dog’s way of trying to find relief from fear or pain.
Have neighbors been using fireworks lately? Is your child entering the “poke and grab” stage?
Sometimes, senior dogs experiencing dementia, or hearing or vision loss, stick close to their owners for guidance.
Patricia McConnell says it’s okay to pet your dog when they’re afraid; there’s no risk of making your dog more fearful by comforting them.
When it comes to thunderstorms, fireworks and new housing situations, your dog can become less fearful and more independent if they’re gradually conditioned to have more positive feelings about the things that scare them. In the meantime, your dog should have a safe space to go when they’re afraid, so they’ll depend on you less for comfort.
Your Dog’s Safe Space
Crate training is a great way to keep our dog out of trouble, while giving them a place to retreat for rest and relaxation.
That’s why it’s so important that your dog always has positive experiences in their crate. Leave the crate door open for your dog to enter and leave at their own will. Place food, treats or toys inside to make it more inviting. You might want to keep it where you’ll be in your dog’s sight, at least until they become accustomed to it.
Use Interactive Toys For Independent Play
It’s not unusual for dogs to ignore their toys unless you’re there to play with them. Stuffed toys and balls seem to have no point if you’re not around to throw them.
Some toys are interactive, making it fun for your dog to play with them without your help.
Puzzle toys are one example. You can purchase puzzle toys like the Seek-A-Treat line from Ethical Pet. You can also try your hand at creating homemade puzzle toys. Try filling some cups in a muffin pan with treats, then covering all cups with tennis balls. Your dog will lift the balls to reach the treats.
Tether Tug is another way for your dog to play independently.
The 360 degree turning capability gives your dog plenty of opportunities to chase the rope and stay engaged in active play, even when you’re not nearby.