It is a situation that many dog owners will face at some point during their dog’s life- their dog suddenly begins to become clingy and insecure for no apparent reason. This can manifest in a variety of ways, including sticking to your side like glue when you are at home and even following you when you leave the room, or barking and crying when left alone, or becoming destructive and soiling within the home.
If there is no obvious stress trigger or reason for this apparent change in mood and sudden insecurity, it can be hard for the dog owner to know how to address the problem. It is important to look a little deeper at the potential reasons behind why your dog might suddenly be acting out, in order to give you your best chance of addressing the issue. Read on to learn more about some common reasons behind why your dog might suddenly become very clingy.
Dogs are animals that thrive on routine, and if something happens to change the routine or dynamic within the home, this may well have a knock-on effect upon your dog. Obvious changes to look for might be an addition to the family or someone leaving home, getting another pet, or moving home.
However, even subtle changes can have a pronounced effect on some dogs, so it is important to look for little reasons too; have you started leaving and coming home at different times, walking your dog at different times, or changing their food schedule? Even small changes like these can cause upheaval for your dog, so try to make any changes gradually.
Stress affects dogs just as it does people, and stress and uncertainty are often big causes of dogs suddenly becoming clingy. Is your dog secure in their lives, and happy with everyone in the household? Is there any possibility that they might be feeling pushed out or bullied by another pet, or even one of your children? Is your home situation calm and stable, and does your dog feel relaxed and comfortable at home? These are all factors to bear in mind.
Fear and anxiety are two sure-fire ways to cause your dog to cling to you, as they will see you as their security and guardian against potential threats. If your dog is naturally rather highly-strung or prone to anxiety, this is even more likely. Certain times of the year can cause fear and general anxiety more than others, such as around bonfire night when there will often be fireworks going off for several days either side of the event, or Christmas and New Year when a lot of people will be coming and going, and changes will be taking place within the home as well.
If you can identify the cause of any potential fear trigger or anxiety, you are halfway to being able to address it. Keep a note of when and why your dog appears to be clingy or upset, and try to trace back from this what might be happening or about to happen when your dog begins to act out. Generally, if your dog is rather delicate and prone to worrying about things, working with them to try to change their reactions and feelings about stressors in general can help your dog in a wide variety of ways.
If your dog is feeling under the weather, they might prefer to hide themselves away and not be around people until they start to feel better. However, many dogs will seek out their family and handler for security and comfort if they are feeling unwell, so never disregard sudden clingy behaviour, as it may be a potential indicator of ill health. If you are in any doubt, get your dog checked out by your vet to ensure that there is nothing amiss.
If you have an unspayed bitch, you may find that when she is in season or approaching the time when she is in season, she will become extremely clingy and stick to your side. If you map the pattern of her seasons, you should be able to identify whether or not the cause of her clinginess is related to her seasons, and know that it will pass in its own time. If you are not planning on breeding from your bitch, have her spayed, as this has a whole range of benefits for the dog as well as removing her seasonal clinginess!
As dogs get older and their minds begin the natural decline into old age, you might find that your dog becomes rather more clingy and requires more reassurance and comfort from you than when they were younger. This is not always the case for all dogs, but if your dog is finding it harder to get around, is losing their vision and/or hearing, or otherwise is slightly more vulnerable and unable to take care of themselves, this can lead to clinginess too. Talk to your vet if your dog is approaching old age, to find out what you can do to make the transition to maturity as stress-free and comfortable for your dog’s changing needs as possible.