For generations upon generations, dogs have been close companions of the human species. They’ve helped our civilizations evolve into better functioning systems with their contributions in various settings, such as farming, agriculture, and even in battle and war. Dogs are exceptional at intuitively understanding human emotion, behavior, and language, which makes them some of the most important elements of our society still to this day.
One of the byproducts of this companionship is that dogs bond to humans so much so that they wish to follow them routinely, or even everywhere they go. If you’ve experienced this, it can be perceived as quite sweet and loving; however, some dog owners tend to get annoyed rather quickly with such behavior – it can even pose a pretty dangerous tripping hazard (you know what we mean if this has happened to you!). In this article, we’ll discuss the fascinating phenomenon of dogs following their humans everywhere.
Why Dogs Follow Humans Everywhere
There are a number of reasons why your dog follows you everywhere, and they’re all rather adaptive in terms of evolutionary functions. Not all dogs follow their humans everywhere, but there are good reasons why dogs follow their human companions, and this behavior can range from unhealthy to healthy, depending on the situation. First, let’s discuss a few of the reasons why dogs follow their owners:
A Loving, Close Companionship
Dogs are called human’s best friend for a reason – they are incredibly intuitive and attuned to our needs, emotions, and behaviors. Companionship between humans and canines has existed for centuries, which has greatly benefited both species – so much so, that they’ve evolved to become even closer companions. This could be the simplest explanation of why your dog follows you everywhere.
The Behavior Has Been Rewarded Over Time
Another possible reason why your dog follows you everywhere is that the behavior has been reinforced time and time again. For instance, dogs who follow their humans are more likely to be shown affection, be given treats, or be played with. This may be why your dog seems to hang on your every move and expression.
Certain Types of Dogs Are More Susceptible to the Behavior
Not all dogs are as likely to want to follow their human counterparts. Some breeds are particularly prone to following their humans due to the long-standing history between the breed and the human species. To learn more about your dog’s breed and their behavioral habits, you may benefit from consulting with your veterinarian.
A Developed Bond from the Beginning
Some animal species engage in a bonding phenomenon called “imprinting.” This is a series of actions between an animal and it’s “mother” or bonded “other” where they learn to rely on them and trust them for shelter, food, and protection. Depending on how old your puppy was when you first brought them home, you may have imprinted on your dog early-on in its life, leading to an everlasting bond.
How to Know When This Behavior is Unhealthy
Although there are certainly advantages for both dogs and humans in this following behavior, there are other maladaptive behaviors and issues that can arise. Rest assured, these behavioral issues can be curbed or prevented with proper techniques. Here are some warning signs to look out for that indicate your dog may have developed an unhealthy attachment to you:
Aggression Toward Others
Dogs that develop unhealthy attachments and have not been properly socialized often become fearful, unsure, or even aggressive toward other humans or dogs who come near them – particularly when they are near their attached human figure.
If your dog tears apart your home while you’re gone, leaves you “presents” in your bed or shoes, or can’t seem to handle when you leave them even for a moment, your pup might have a case of separation anxiety due to an unhealthy attachment.
What You Can Do to Promote Healthy Social Behavior
While your dog’s following behavior might seem cute and non-problematic, others might feel as though it is causing issues. If you’re unsure of how to go about maintaining a healthy attachment to your dog and need help curbing problem behaviors, please feel free to contact one of the helpful professionals here at Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital & Emergency in Simi Valley.