There are roughly 900,000,000 dogs in the world, and out of all those dogs, yours is a unique family member for you to love and care for.
Sometimes your dog’s behavior changes, and you’re at a loss for why. If you’ve been wondering why your dog has suddenly become so clingy, we’re here to help. Read on for 13 common reasons why your dog would suddenly become clingy.
Why Does Your Dog Cling to You?
Dogs often become clingy due to anxiety or stress. It can stem from a change in their routine to something more serious happening beneath the surface. Getting to the root cause of that stress will give you a better idea of why your dog is suddenly so clingy.
1. Severe Separation Anxiety
One of the most common reasons your dog becomes suddenly clingy is that they’re suffering from separation anxiety. It might surprise you to know that dogs have anxieties like humans do. Studies show that up to 40% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety at some point in their lives.
Some of the common signs of separation anxiety in dogs include
- Relieving themselves in the house
- Destructive behaviors
- Excessive barking
- Excessive pacing
It’s also common for them to become more aggressive, whine continuously, and sleep close to their owners.
Separation anxiety will require a veterinarian’s advice, as each dog’s needs are different. You can help by spending more time with your dog and creating an environment where they feel more relaxed. You might also want to introduce another dog to give them company, but this depends on the dog as this can sometimes cause negative behaviors.
2. Hidden Illness
Another common reason for your dog to become clingy is that they have an illness you haven’t noticed yet. Clinginess is often the first sign that something’s wrong with your dog. If something is off, your dog may try to be as close to you as possible for safety and security.
However, just because your dog is getting clingy doesn’t guarantee illness is the cause. You should seek a vet’s advice as soon as possible if you suspect your dog is ill. Never diagnose your dog on your own.
Aside from being sick, your dog might also stay close by your side if it is physically injured, looking to you for comfort and protection. In most cases, that clinginess will wear off once they feel better and aren’t experiencing any more pain or discomfort.
3. Previous Abandonments
Dogs have great memories, and if you’re adopting a new pup, you should look into their past. If your dog has become clingy, it might be because a previous owner abandoned them.
You should be more aware of this for pups you’re adopting from a shelter or another owner. A dog left at a shelter with no warning may carry the weight of having its owner randomly abandon them. Common symptoms include
- Excessive salivating
- Erratic breathing
The best way for you to alleviate these abandonment issues is by spending more time with your dog. You can earn more trust by training them, playing games that encourage them to return to you – including fetch – and treating them as well as possible. Your dog may never completely get over its abandonment trauma, but you can help them move past it and enjoy their life now.
4. New Pets in the Home
If your dog has been your only pet for a while, you might have them clinging to you more after introducing a new animal. A pup that was your only target of attention might act up if another animal is taking away your focus.
New animals in the house can sometimes cause dogs to become more territorial. They’ll become more affectionate to secure their spot at your side and fend off the new animal trying to earn your affection.
It’s also not uncommon for animals to become aggressive in this situation. If your dog begins snapping at people or other animals, you’ll need to remedy the problem as soon as possible. Consider obedience training or letting the animals spend more time getting to know each other. Of course, giving them more attention can also help to alleviate this.
5. Time Without You
If you’ve recently been spending less time with your dog, they might be clinging to you to try to make up for that time. Such a symptom is especially common if you’ve recently begun spending prolonged periods away from home. A college student coming home after a semester might have their dog refusing to so much as leave their lap.
Moving out of the house the dog lives in can have the same effect. You’re the main source of company for your dog, so depriving them of that can have serious consequences. They may try to sleep as close to you as possible, refuse to leave your side, and whine if you go to leave again.
6. Strange Company
New animals aren’t the only thing that can trigger a dog to cling to you. If you’re bringing new people around, it can stress your dog, and they might feel uncertain about the new people in their life. When this happens, they’ll likely cope by trying to stay as close to you as possible.
The best way to remedy this is for your dog to become more familiar with new people as they get to know them over time.
If you’re hiring a dog sitter or having someone watch your dog while you’re out of town, you should have them meet that person a couple of times first. Doing so can help your dog not to see them as a stranger and alleviate their anxiety. It can also help your dog be less clingy when others are around.
Until then, you can help by putting your dog somewhere else if they struggle with negative behavior around other people. It won’t relieve their anxiety, but it can prevent clinging or aggression. You may want to put them in another part of the house and block them off with baby gates. They can still see you and interact without risking negative behaviors.
7. Aging Pups
As your pup gets older, it’s natural for them to become more clingy. Studies show that dogs can have their personalities change as they age. One of the many changes is that they’ll often cling to their owners and loved ones.
Other changes, including a lack of curiosity and low energy, are also common. If this is the cause of your clingy pup, the best thing you can do is spend more time with them. For an older dog, that might include something as simple as resting on the couch or giving them a few extra belly rubs to enjoy.
8. Likely in Heat
When a female dog enters heat, she’ll likely become more clingy. A dog’s behavior can change during heat due to changes in its hormonal systems.
Common symptoms of being in heat include trembling, frequent urination, tenseness, and high levels of alertness. They’ll also likely approach male dogs more readily and may show vaginal bleeding.
You can avoid your dog going into heat by having her spayed. If you don’t wish to do this, there isn’t much you can do except wait for their heat cycle to end.
9. Delivering a Litter
If your dog is about to have a litter, she’ll likely become more clingy as her pregnancy advances.
Your pup sees you as a protector and will stay near you as they near delivery for safety. They also tend to form an emotional bond with their owners – especially during pregnancy.
If your dog is pregnant and will soon deliver, you might want to consider changing your schedule so you can keep it company. If this isn’t possible, you should ensure they have another human with them. Failing that, consider taking them to a vet so that they don’t deliver their puppies alone.
10. Change of Schedule
Another thing you may have done to cause your dog’s clinginess is changing your schedule around. Dogs thrive on routine, and an interruption in their routine can bring about clinginess.
Change can leave your dog disoriented and confused, as you are the main focus of their life. It may impact their eating schedule, how often they can go for a walk, how often they can relieve themselves, and countless other things. Changing your schedule effectively changes your dog’s schedule, and it’s hard to prepare them for that.
Your dog may cling to you for some sense of comfort and normalcy when you’re around. It’s unlikely that you can change your schedule back to what it was, but there are other ways you can remedy the problem.
As you might expect, the best thing you can do is make time for your dog. If you expect this new schedule of yours to last a while, consider trying to get your dog onto the same schedule. Take walks at the same time each day, be home when you can, and reassure your dog that this “new normal” is something they can get used to. It may take some adjustment, but they should eventually be able to adapt and go back to being more independent.
11. Change in Environment
A schedule change isn’t the only sudden switch that can impact your dog. If you’ve recently changed your dog’s environment, it can leave them dazed and confused. Expect your dog to cling more to you during this time as it adjusts to the new surroundings.
If you’ve gone from one home to another, your dog has no idea what happened – only that they’re in a completely new locale.
The best thing you can do is help your dog adjust to its new environment. Go on long walks in the surrounding area so your dog can become comfortable with the neighborhood. As they grow more accustomed to their new world, they’ll gradually rely on you less and less like an anchor.
That said, moving homes isn’t the only thing that can cause problems. Radically redesigning your home can leave your dog somewhat confused, though it shouldn’t last long. Redoing your yard and giving them new sensory experiences could have the same effect, but they’ll get used to it quickly.
Lastly, you can expect this common symptom from any newly adopted dog. The clinginess is especially common if a dog went from a previous home to a shelter, to your home, as they’ve had to adjust repeatedly. Adopted dogs can sometimes take a long while to adjust, so be patient and make them comfortable.
12. Lack of Entertainment
It may seem funny to think about, but dogs need entertainment the same way humans do. The only issue is that your dog doesn’t have a phone, books, television, or social life – they only have you. If you haven’t been helping entertain your dog, they may become clingy just out of boredom!
Of course, it’s a bit deeper than just being bored. If you used to play with your dog more often and have slowed for one reason or another, it may feel neglected. In this situation, your dog can cling to you out of hopes of feeling like they’re still important to their best friend.
The best solution for this is to spend more time with them. What you do doesn’t matter – you may want to take this time to teach it some new commands or a few tricks. What matters is that you’re bonding with them.
Think about activities your dog loves, and make a point to do them more often – together. Go on long walks or hikes together, or take them to a dog park. If they are just bored, having the stimulation of other dogs around them can make them less clingy.
13. Being Protective
Sometimes, when your dog is exceptionally clingy, they could simply be trying to protect you. You’re the most important thing to your four-legged friend, and their clinginess might be them trying to keep you safe.
Dogs are perceptive enough to pick up changes in hormones and human behavior and can adjust to these changes. That’s why it’s so common for pregnant pet owners to experience more clinginess from their dogs when they’re carrying a baby.
Signs of distress in its human can cause clinginess regardless of the source. It isn’t uncommon for a dog to stay close to its human after an injury. Even signs of emotional distress or turmoil can cause a dog to want to comfort their best friend.
It isn’t easy to diagnose why your dog is clinging to you without a veterinarian’s advice. If you suspect there is a medical reason, seek attention immediately to ensure your pup doesn’t need further help. In the meantime, spend as much time with them as you can afford to help ease their clingy tendencies.
If you have more questions about the behavior of dogs, feel free to contact us or browse our site for more information.