Why Is My Dog So Clingy? – Here Are the 9 Reasons Why

Man with Clingy Dog

While it can be nice knowing that your dog wants to stay by your side, if the clingy behavior suddenly presents itself, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your pooch.

To help you get to the bottom of your dog’s sudden clinginess, we go over 9 of the top reasons why this can happen. By using this guide, you can narrow down the cause and take the appropriate actions to help your Velcro dog!

Table of Contents

Dog Is Acting Clingy

Top 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is So Clingy

1. Your Dog Is Acting Clingy Due to Separation Anxiety

Canine separation anxiety can be a serious issue that can alter your dog’s behavior in many ways. One of the most common behavioral changes in dogs with severe separation anxiety is clinginess with their owners.

While clinginess is a common symptom of separation anxiety, it is important to understand whether your pooch is simply fond of being with you or suffering from a mental condition. To tell the two apart, determine whether your dog’s clinginess is accompanied by other behaviors.

In addition to being clingy while you are home, a dog that has separation anxiety will also display some of the following behaviors:

  • Increased vocalizations, like barking, whining, and howling, especially before you leave the house.
  • Destructive behaviors while you are away, including chewing furniture, destroying toys, and scratching carpets.
  • Pacing, heavy panting, and drooling, especially right before you are about to leave the house.
  • Urinating and defecating inside the house, especially if they had no prior history of doing so.

If your dog has separation anxiety, it will be extremely clingy when you get home. They may also seem more territorial than usual, which can take the form of growling and barking when anyone else approaches you.

If you suspect your dog has separation anxiety, you should speak with a veterinarian immediately, as they can help you work through the issue. This thorough guide from the ASPCA titled Separation Anxiety can also be a useful resource.

2. Your Dog Is Acting Clingy as a Fear Response

Dogs also tend to act clingy towards their owners when they are afraid. They are pack animals, and it is a natural reaction to fear in canines to huddle around their pack, so it only makes sense that a scared dog would cling to their owner.

If you notice that your dog seems nervous in their clinginess, like hiding between your legs with downcast eyes, something or someone in their environment may be causing them to experience ongoing fear. Perhaps you adopted a new dog, or there is loud construction in your neighborhood. Note when your dog seems clingy, as well as other fear-related behaviors they could be displaying.

3. Your Dog Is Clingy Due to Chronic Boredom

Dogs can also become clingy out of simple boredom. If your routine has recently changed and you cannot spend as much time as you once did with your dog, there is a good chance that the dog is feeling a combination of boredom and loneliness.

As a natural response to boredom, your dog could be clinging to you when you are home. Dogs need mental stimulation just as much as they need physical exercise.

Play Games With Your Dog

Try playing more games with your dog and consider more frequent adventures together, like off-leash hiking trails, dog-friendly beaches, and regular trips to the dog park.

Hire a Dog Walker

If your schedule doesn’t allow you to spend more time with your pooch, consider hiring a dog walker to take your dog on midday walks while you are at work. This can help break up their boredom and add excitement to their day.

Remember, while your dog may just be a small part of your day, you are your dog’s entire world. If you are not spending time with your dog, they could just be sitting around bored and depressed.

4. Your Dog Is Clingy as a Response to Illness or Injury

Dog Is Clingy as a Response to Illness or Injury

Dogs cannot simply communicate how they feel with words, so they often display their feelings with behavioral changes. If your dog is suffering from some sort of sickness or a painful and ongoing injury, it may become far clingier than they once were.

If you notice an increase in clinginess with other behavioral changes, your dog may have an illness or injury.

Symptoms might include:

  • A refusal to eat
  • Lethargy
  • Frequently growling and groaning

If you suspect this could be the case, closely inspect your dog’s body and mouth for any obvious signs of injury. From there, take your dog to see a veterinarian immediately, as they will be able to perform a full check-up on your pooch.

5. You Could Simply Have a Clingy Breed

Companion Breeds

Some dog breeds were bred to act as companions to their owners. These breeds have a natural inclination to cling to their owners.

If you have a Shih Tzu, cocker spaniel, or French bulldog, you know they rarely leave their owner’s side.

Working Breeds

Some working dog breeds also possess this trait, as the original breeders wanted dogs that would be extremely loyal.

You may notice this if you have a labrador retriever, border collie, or German shepherd, who are extremely clingy and eager to please.

Online dog-care website WAG! recently published their list of the Top 11 Dog Breeds that are Extra Clingy, which might be worth consulting. 

6. Your Dog’s Clinginess Could Be Learned Behavior

Dog’s Clinginess Could Be Learned Behavior

It is also possible that your dog’s sudden clinginess is because they have picked up the behavior after observing it in another dog or even a human child. It could also be behavior your dog picked up as a puppy from your actions.

If, for example, you give your puppy constant attention and rarely leave their side, they may grow up to become a very clingy adult dog. You could also have a young dog that learns to be clingy from an older dog in the same household.

Dogs tend to pick up on behaviors from others, which is why it is so important that your dog completes proper obedience and socialization training from a young age. By learning how to be independent, your dog will have a decreased likeliness of developing separation anxiety later in life.

7. Your Dog Could Be Clingy Due to Age-Related Cognitive Decline

Unfortunately, dogs can suffer from dementia and other forms of cognitive decline as they age. While it is sad, it can be a natural part of the aging process. In most cases, a dog’s behavior will change suddenly and with very little notice as they grow older.

One of the many ways their behavior can change is in how clingy they are. Your dog could simply be suffering from ongoing confusion, which may spur them to stick by your side more than they did during their younger years.

If you suspect that your senior dog could be clingy due to cognitive decline, speak with your veterinarian, as they can offer you advice for helping your dog adjust.

PetMD has an outstanding article that covers everything dog owners should know about cognitive decline in aging dogs – Dog Dementia – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Life Expectancy.

8. Your Dog Is Clingy Due to a Significant Environmental Change

Dogs are creatures of habit, which means they do not like major changes to their routine or environment. If a major change has recently occurred, you may notice that your furry friend will begin to act in seemingly strange ways. One of these new behaviors could be increased clinginess.

Changes could include moving to a new house or adopting a new pet.

In many cases, dogs become clingy when a couple brings home their first baby.

Rather than getting upset with your dog’s clingy behavior, help your dog adjust by spending quality time with them. Try to get back into a familiar routine, as this will also help your dog become more comfortable with the environmental change causing them to behave in a clingier way.

9. Your Female Dog Could Be Clingy Due to Being in Heat or as a Result of Pregnancy

Pregnant dog

In many cases, female dogs can become clingy when they start to go into heat. It can be an uncomfortable time for the dog, so they could cling to their owner for a sense of comfort and familiarity. This tends to be more prominent in younger dogs experiencing these changes for the first time.

Additionally, pregnant dogs tend to become very clingy during the later stages of pregnancy. They instinctively begin to seek out comfortable settings as they near the end of their pregnancy. While this is a natural nesting response to the conclusion of pregnancy, for many dogs, seeking out their owners is how they feel comfortable.

What may seem like simple clinginess could be your dog’s way of preparing to give birth to a litter of puppies. This tends to be even more common in dogs giving birth for the first time.