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why does my dog follow me around

Does this sound familiar? You re watching the game on television, you get up for some more ridiculously expensive guacamole, and you get the feeling someone is following you. Someone is. Your dog. For those of us with dogs, it sometimes can be difficult to take a step without finding your best friend following along beside you. So, why do they do that? The answer, like most things involving human and pet relationships, is not a simple one. There could be a few reasons. The most common is that your dog loves you. In fact, you re his whole world. He loves being near you, loves listening to your voice and even loves the smell of your stinky socks. When you move around, he goes with you. Dogs are very social and they enjoy the companionship of their humans.

They re also studying us. Whether or not that s so they can eventually overthrow us and inherit the world, they spend a great deal of time trying to figure out what we re thinking. To do that, they need to observe us in different environments. They learn to take their cues from our body language and the tenor of our voices. They learn to read our moods and detect our needs. We learn from them, too, as they give us subtle and not-so subtle clues to what they re thinking and wanting. Another reason your dog might be following you has to do with food and other pleasures. If they follow you, it might be in the hopes that you re headed toward the pantry where the treat jar is stored.

Or maybe you ll walk over to the hook where the leash is hanging and take him out for a walk and some play time. Your dog also might tend to follow you when they know it s time for a meal or a walk. You usually can spot those instances when you stand up and your dog is immediately at your side, expecting you to head toward the kitchen. If you don t, the dog usually heads back to the spot he was in before. Some dogs can overdo the stalking. A Velcro dog one that sticks by your side constantly could be suffering from separation anxiety. For the sake of the dog s well-being, you should work on that, giving the dog reassurances that you re not going away, and that if you do, you ll be back.

Sometimes ignoring the attachment works best. If you re constantly rewarding that behavior with attention, the dog comes to expect it and to crave it. Try greeting the dog when you come in the door, then ignore him for periods of time. You also can work on sit and stay commands, rewarding the dog for those instead of for clinging to you. There s nothing wrong with your dog dogging you, as long as it doesn t go to extremes. Just think of it as an entourage. This is a new, weekly column on why our pets do the things they do. If you have a question about your pet s odd or interesting behavior and wonder why he or she does that, email Joan Morris.
Your dog has survival instincts that revolve around three primary things: food, water, and territory.

When your dog associates your home as being his home as well, it becomes a matter of survival for him. Your dog's instincts will set in and he will "patrol" his territory, making sure there are no "predators". Patrolling alone is never smart, even for humans. We instinctively know that we are more vulnerable when we are alone. Your dog feels the same way. As you move about your home, your dog doesn't want to be left alone, as it would make him feel vulnerable, and neither does he want you to feel vulnerable. So he follows you to ensure the safety of both you and him. Patrolling territory has always been a cooperative task.

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