If you’ve ever owned a dog, you’d probably know that most of them have the tendency to follow you around everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you’re going – once you get up from where you are, your pooch is guaranteed to trail behind you with its wagging tail. As endearing as this may be, sometimes, it could also be bothersome, especially when you’re in a rush or in the middle of something important. But have you ever wondered why your dogs exhibit this kind of behavior?
According to experts, there are several reasons why our dogs follow us all the time.
Imprinting is something that happens very early in a dog’s life. It actually begins at birth, with puppies learning primarily from their mother and their littermates.
According to CANIDAE, imprinting is a type of learning that “will teach a dog how to act around other dogs, how to read another dog’s body language, if it’s okay to bite and if so, how hard, and many other skills that humans are just not able to teach as well as a mother dog can.”
Puppies can imprint on people as well. As told by Mary Burch, Ph.D., a certified applied animal behaviorist, to PetMD:
“The imprinting period for puppies is between 3- and 12-weeks-old.”
Once a pup imprints on you, he will begin to view you as a source of security and companionship – thus causing the dog to follow you around.
Like children, dogs are naturally curious beings – they always want to know what’s happening. Which is why it seems that with everything you do – taking out your groceries, organizing your desk – your dog always feels the need to have their nose right where you are working.
Also, when you get up from wherever you are and wander off, it is highly probable that your dog is wondering where you’re going. There are questions that might come to their minds: Are you going for a walk? Will there be treats?
Bottom line is, your dog just wants to know what you’re up to.
When they’re in their owner’s presence, dogs release Oxytocin (Oxt) is a peptide hormone and neuropeptide – the “feel-good” chemical that bonds humans and dogs alike. Plus, dogs are social creatures by nature and they like being around their pack. And as their constant companion, their “pack” becomes you!
According to Laurie Santos, PhD., a professor of psychology and director of the Canine Cognition Center at Yale University:
“Over the process of domestication, natural selection has shaped dogs to become companions for humans. Domesticated dogs are now ‘bonded’ with humans in some of the same ways as human children. In this sense, our bond with dogs is one that has evolved over the course of domestication.”
Some dogs may suffer from separation anxiety when their owners – the persons they are most attached to – leave them. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, dogs that experience separation anxiety “might urinate, defecate, bark, howl, chew, dig or try to escape” when separated from their owner.
These signs of distress may also be accompanied by other indicators, such as drooling and showing anxiety when their humans prepare to leave the house.
If your dog has separation anxiety, counter-conditioning might solve the problem. ASPCA says that counter-conditioning “is a treatment process that changes an animal’s fearful, anxious or aggressive reaction to a pleasant, relaxed one instead.” To put it simply, it is done by associating what the dog fears with something that the dog loves.
Whatever the reason behind why our dogs follow us, one thing is for sure – it is that our best friends just really love us and they want to be part of our day whenever they can.