If your puppy seems to follow you everywhere, you may be concerned. Why does your puppy follow you? Does it mean he’s anxious or unhappy? Should you be worried, or is it normal? And what can you do about it if it bothers you? Here is everything you should know and exactly how to respond.
So, why does my puppy follow me everywhere? Puppies often follow their owners due to separation anxiety or not having sufficient confidence in their new surroundings. They may be frightened, or it could just be they want something from you. Other reasons can include being nosy or curious or simply wanting to be in your company because they trust and love you.
As you can see, there is no one standalone reason.
So, you may need to do some investigative work to try to understand what could be going on with your puppy, in particular.
You are going to need to be observant and mindful.
Nevertheless, by keeping a close eye, it should be relatively straightforward to get an idea of what’s going on.
And at the same time, try to consider your own personal context or circumstances, such as how long you have had your puppy, if they are experiencing something for the first time, or if there is anything else that might have changed in their environment.
With this, all in mind, let us now explore the reasons for a clingy pup before turning to the best responses to it!
Reasons Why Puppies Follow Their Owners
Puppies follow their owners for several reasons, depending on the puppy’s personality and the circumstances.
Dogs Are Pack Animals
Dogs are used to living in packs – it’s in their genes. It’s only natural, then, for your puppy to want to have company.
Once your puppy is no longer with his canine pack, he will adopt you and your family as his human pack.
If your puppy was very young when you brought him home, he might have imprinted on you as his new parent.
He will tend to feel more happy and secure when you’re around, so he’ll want to keep you by his side as much as possible, especially in the early days.
Dogs Tend to Follow Their Primary Caregiver
If you’re the person who provides your puppy with food, water, exercise, and attention, your puppy will decide that you are the most important person in his life.
Dogs are smart: they’ll follow the person who is most likely to make sure their needs are met.
Sometimes there are other needs that your puppy feels are even more valuable, and he will follow you to get more of what he wants.
It could be that your puppy sees you as the most fun person who provides him with the most exercise, or the best games, or even just the most treats!
Dogs Can Be Anxious Or Lacking Confidence
It could be that your puppy is following you because he is lacking in confidence to explore his new world.
In this case, you will want to find solutions to make him feel more secure (see below).
Is It Bad If Your Puppy Follows You Everywhere?
In the early days, it’s completely natural for your puppy to want to follow you everywhere. It’s not bad, nor unexpected.
Your puppy has left his mother and siblings, and he will be missing them and the close interaction they gave.
While your puppy learns what to expect in his new home, he will often follow the person he feels the safest with, which will probably be you as his owner and caregiver.
So it’s entirely an entirely natural process. One in which all puppies simply need to go through.
It’s only a cause for concern if your puppy continues to follow you once he’s older.
Older dogs who continue to follow their owners everywhere are often displaying other signs of attachment issues or anxiety, such as:
- No longer going to the toilet in the right place
- Barking or howling
- Destructive behavior such as chewing or digging
Other causes for concern might be if your puppy wasn’t following you before and suddenly starts doing so.
In these cases, it could be that your puppy is losing their vision or hearing.
It could be another type of health problem: the best thing is a visit to the vet to make sure your puppy hasn’t developed an illness.
Should You Stop A Puppy from Following You?
You shouldn’t necessarily stop a puppy from following you if it doesn’t bother you. Some people don’t mind always having their dogs around, while others find it irritating. Other people might be concerned about safety, e.g., tripping over their dogs.
If You Don’t Have Any Concerns
If you are happy for your puppy to follow you, then you don’t need to do anything to stop him from doing so.
Ideally, you want to enjoy time with your puppy but not have the impression your puppy suffers each time you leave his side.
If both you and your puppy are happy with the situation, you don’t need to change anything.
If You Have Concerns
Sometimes you might want to investigate why your puppy is following you and try to stop it or at least limit it.
Consider getting help if:
- You find yourself (or others) tripping over your puppy
- You suspect your puppy may be suffering from separation anxiety
- You think your puppy might be following you out of fear
- Your puppy has suddenly started following you when he wasn’t before
Will My Puppy Grow Out Of Following Me?
Some puppies will naturally grow out of following their owners around (being a bit clingy), and others won’t. This depends on the puppy’s personality, your circumstances, and how he’s been trained.
As we’ve mentioned above, you don’t need to do anything about your puppy following you if you are both happy.
While behavior does largely depend upon personality traits, some breeds tend to stick by your side more than others.
Breeds More Likely To Follow You Around
Most of the time, it’s a question of a puppy’s personality as to whether they’ll grow out of following you around or not.
However, some breeds known as “Velcro dogs” tend to follow their people more than others, even as adults.
Many breeds that fit into this category, but here are some examples:
- Border Collies
- Labrador Retrievers
- French Bulldogs
- German Shepherds
- Doberman Pinschers
- Australian Shepherds
Working dogs tend to follow their people more than other dog breeds because they were bred to work with people.
They are accustomed to following orders from people, so they will often stick close by to wait to see what to do next.
Any dog breed created to bring about companion dogs is likely to be more clingy, too. These dogs enjoy company, be it canine or human!
Breeds Less Likely To Follow You Around
Some breeds are known for being more independent, particularly as they get older. Examples of these breeds are:
- Chow Chows
- Shiba Inus
How Do You Train A Puppy Not To Follow You?
If you want to train your puppy not to follow you, there are several solutions, depending on why your puppy is always by your side.
If Your Puppy Is Anxious Or Frightened
Consult your vet for advice, or a dog trainer, as anxious puppies require particular training to help them grow in confidence.
One of the best methods for helping an anxious puppy is to get him used to a puppy crate as soon as you bring him home.
Teach him that his crate is a safe space for him to rest – not as a punishment, but as a way to recharge his batteries and get some peace and quiet.
Crate training can be quite simple and usually requires patience and providing a comfortable environment for your puppy.
Comfy blankets and an appropriate chew toy can go a long way towards helping your puppy get used to his crate.
Another way to help your puppy feel happier and more secure is to provide clear guidelines as to what you expect from your puppy.
When training your puppy, establish clear rules and boundaries for him to follow.
If Your Puppy Is Bored Or Curious
If your puppy wants to explore or is restless, it could be he isn’t getting enough exercise.
Some breeds need more exercise than others, so there’s no one size fits all rule.
Certain breeds need several hours of running or playing every day, while others are happy with 30 minutes daily of a brisk walk.
If your dog is stimulated every day, if he’s given opportunities to explore and play, he’ll be more likely to settle happily onto his bed or in his crate.
He won’t be as apt to want to follow you for more excitement!
If Your Puppy Craves Your Attention
If your puppy always follows you in the hope of treats or a pat on the back, are you encouraging this behavior somehow? When your puppy follows you, do you:
- Look at him?
- Give him treats?
- Stroke him?
- Talk to him? (Even scolding is a form of attention)
Your puppy will continue to do any behavior that will get him what he wants.
It’s therefore up to you to stop reinforcing him following you by ignoring him when he follows you and providing him with attention or treats only once he has settled down in a safe place.
You can reinforce the behavior you want by teaching your dog commands like “stay” or “place” so that he learns what you expect of him.
Note: Ignoring your puppy when he follows you is only appropriate if your puppy is in the habit of getting attention from you that reinforces this behavior. If he’s following you for other reasons (see above), don’t ignore him: help him with training to do what you want, instead.
If Your Puppy Only Follows You As His Caregiver
If you’re the only one your puppy follows because you’re the one providing food, treats, attention, and exercise, consider getting other family members to share the responsibilities.
Have others walk, play with, or feed your puppy.
Your puppy will then see that he can divide his focus up amongst several members of his “pack.”
Puppies follow their owners. Particularly to begin with and in the early days of ownership.
And while it is true that some breeds are naturally more inclined to do so than others, it is not something you generally need to be concerned with.
In time, you should find that this ‘clinginess’ (if that’s what you want to call it) should naturally subside.
Especially as your puppy builds their confidence and becomes familiar with their new life.
That being said, if it doesn’t subside in time, your puppy suddenly becomes more clingy, or if you suspect anything else is going on, you will need to investigate further.
Look for other traits or behaviors.
Ensure that there is not something else going on; like pain, for instance.
It may be that you need to contact a vet.
Not always, but a possibility that you should never rule out.
Have other questions about your puppy’s behavior and tendencies? Well, my following guides may be of help:
- Why Does My Puppy Cry On Walks?
- Why Does My Puppy Bark At Me?
- Why Does My Puppy Bark At Other Dogs?
- Why Does My Puppy Sound Congested?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.