Cats and Dogs
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Why are dogs obsessed with their owners?

My Dog Is Obsessed With Me! What You Should Do Now

For quite some time I’ve thought my Rottweiler was obsessed with me and my partner too… and you know what?

Sometimes we just worry too much and what we may perceive as so-called obsession turns out to be nothing more than harmless affection.

That being said, once the thin line of affection to obsession is crossed, you’ll usually notice serious behavior problems.

While some articles discuss the surface reasons for your dog’s obsession, I’ll try to shed more light on the scientific side (all studies linked below) and how you can avoid these behavior issues.

You may be tempted to put off training your dog to actually enjoy being alone from time to time, but that’ll come at a price sooner or later.

Serious behavior issues are not only uncomfortable for your dog, but they can also cost you big bucks to get rid of.

Plus, obsession issues seriously affect your and your dog’s social life.

Let’s go over what it means when your dog is obsessed with you, how you can spot the specific signs, and how to get rid of the root cause.

What Does It Mean When Your Dog Is Obsessed With You?

Your dog is obsessed with you due to a lack of exercise or food, behavior issues such as separation anxiety, external changes (new home, pregnancy, period), or simply positive reinforcement if you have a velcro dog.

Senior rescue dog sits close to his new owner.

Of course, your first point should be checking that your dog has the right amount of food, an overall healthy diet, as well as a feeding schedule.

Just because you’re feeding your dog doesn’t necessarily mean that the diet is balanced.

Personally, I feed a raw diet. Food can also be the reason why your dog gets more clingy at certain times.

My Rottweiler kind of expects her food in the morning and sometimes in the evening and that’s when the stalking and intense stares can start.

A lack of exercise is also a common issue so make sure you’re properly exercising your dog. Boredom can lead to your dog being obsessed with you because they have nothing else to do.

Tired dogs are good dogs, remember that.

Exercise also extends to our next issue which is separation anxiety.

I’ve got a complete and simple-to-follow separation anxiety guide if you’re afraid that your dog might suffer from this.

Address this issue asap as it can lead to destructive behavior in the future (we’ll discuss other signs your dog might show below).

Beagle being trained. Positively reinforcing clingy behavior might get your dog to be obsessed with you.

Another really likely possibility is the plain ol’ positive reinforcement.

If your dog is obsessed with you due to positive reinforcement, that just means that you’ve rewarded your dog in the past for being close to you and following you around.

A healthy bond where your dog wants to be with you is totally okay and we actually kind of want to implant this in our dogs’ minds when we train them to be off-leash.

However, once your dog can’t be alone anymore or experiences any of the signs below, you should act.

Last but not least, there are a couple of surprising reasons for your dog’s obsession, especially if the behavior change occurred suddenly.

Why Is My Dog So Obsessed With Me All Of A Sudden

If your dog is obsessed with you all of a sudden, it’s likely due to external changes such as moving, pregnancy or period, or household changes such as a diseased pet or family member or a newly added pet.

Yep, all these reasons can be the root cause of your dog suddenly acting all clingy and never leaving your side.

However, it’s important to keep medical issues in mind and have your dog checked out by a vet if you’re unsure about a behavior change out of the blue.

So let’s check out all the possible causes.

Moving homes can be very stressful for some dogs and it’s definitely possible that your dog tries to stick to you more in a completely new environment.

Why should your dog be obsessed with you due to pregnancy or period you ask?

While science hasn’t yet uncovered everything related to a dog’s sense of smell (e.g. how they detect certain illnesses), it’s clear that dogs do smell these changes.

Same as being in an unfamiliar environment.

Your dog may be obsessed with you because he just recently lost his furry best friend or because somebody has left or was newly added to your household.

If you brought home a rescue dog, chances are that your dog claims the number one spot and slowly has to get used to the new situation.

Keep in mind that the same is true vice versa – rescue dogs often go through various fear stages.

Signs My Dog Is Obsessed With Me

Signs that your dog is obsessed with you include never leaving your side, overall alertness where you’re going, and commonly barking, whining, or destructive behavior when you leave for a short period of time.

If you noticed a recent change in your dog’s behavior, that’s a sign that something has changed that has caused your dog to be obsessed with you.

However, not every kind of affection is necessarily an obsession.

Rottweiler peacefully sleeping in children

My Rottweiler follows me around all the rooms in the house, is always relatively close when out and about, and yet she has absolutely zero issues with separation anxiety.

If your dog stays close to you all the time but can actually stay alone without any issues or stress, then that’s a good sign.

There’s a term for individuals who are prone to being clingy – velcro dogs.

Dog breeds definitely have these predispositions and how you raise them as puppies can determine whether or not their independence will go up or down.

How Can I Stop My Dog Being So Obsessed With Me?

To stop your dog from being so obsessed with you, it’s crucial to make them enjoy their alone time through positive reinforcement, avoid them following you everywhere, and not reward clingy behavior.

Separation anxiety is a big element when it comes to a dog’s obsession with people as a lot of them have issues with staying alone.

Exercise your dog before leaving, make sure they get a potty break and are not hungry, and provide them with toys and you’re off to a good start.

Over time, you want to increase the time spent alone but only take tiny steps.

A couple of seconds, a minute, five minutes, ten minutes, and so on.

Never set your dog up for failure.

While you want to encourage them to enjoy their time, it’s equally as important not to reward clingy behavior.

Rewarding obsessive behavior means letting them follow you everywhere, immediately running back to them because they whine when left alone, or allowing them to be on your lap or totally in your face all the time.

Why Is My Dog Obsessed With My Hands

Dogs are often obsessed with your hands or face since these are the main points of interaction and your hands provide food, play, pets and might be recognized as the equivalent to dog paws.

My Rottweiler is definitely into human hands.

Whereas some dogs are jumping up and generally try to lick your face, I always thought it to be interesting that my dog prefers hands so strongly.

She’ll literally go after your hands if you pet her, asking for more.

A good way to solve this is by just putting your hands away and rewarding your dog for calm behavior.

Don’t make it a game of chase and don’t reward your dog going after your hands for licks if you don’t want to encourage that behavior in the future.

My Friend’s Dog Is Obsessed With Me

If your friend’s dog is obsessed with you, it might be because you play with them, you pack positive vibes, or perhaps they adore your scent.

Yep, dogs learn by association.

Every time you’re over at your friend’s house and interact with the dog, talk to them in a happy voice, or the owner is genuinely happy to see you, that can create a positive association.

The dog will remember you being there equals a fun time.

Sometimes it’s pretty simple and the dog just likes you playing with him or they just love your scent.

Having pets of your own can practically act as a canine magnet.

My Dog Is Obsessed With Being Petted

If your dog is obsessed with being petted, that’s a sign of a strong bond and we should all dedicate some time in the day just to our dogs.

In case you think the need to be petted is a bit excessive, try redirecting them to play, brain games, or whatever else you have at hand.

As long as it’s not neurotic behavior, being obsessed with pets shouldn’t hurt anybody though.

If your dog is rambunctious around strangers with a fiery need for pets, you may try to tone that excitement down via training and plenty of exercise.

Some dogs even growl when petted and that’s not necessarily a bad sign either.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.

Healthy Affection vs. Obsession


Modern Dog Spring 2023 cover

Loving your dog is great. Smothering her obsessively with your affections—not so much. What, you might ask, is the difference? Healthy love, in any relationship, includes wanting the “other” to be able to enjoy time apart. Do you like the prospect of your canine companion enjoying time away from you? Or are you unknowingly fostering dysfunctional overdependence? If your dog already has separation anxiety does that stroke your ego? Or does it concern you, leading you to seek help in fixing the problem?
Let’s first take a look at why separation anxiety is so common in pet dogs, and then run through a checklist to help you decide which you are nurturing: your dog, or a potential anxiety problem.

Why separation anxiety is so common
Dogs, as pack animals, are not genetically well-designed to spend long periods of time alone. Nature didn’t demand it from their ancestors, so the “I’m quite happy to pass the day by my lonesome” genes were not passed down to most of them. Combine this with our modern dog’s lifestyle that usually imposes times of solitude and presto: the common problem of separation anxiety. Given this mismatch between what dogs were designed for and what our lifestyle demands of them, we need to help them—from puppyhood through to sunset years—grow comfortable with alone time.

Promoting K9 mental health
Anxiety in dogs, as in people, is influenced by two main factors: genes and environment, also known as nature and nurture. Once a pup is conceived, we have no control over genetics, but we retain lots of influence over environment. Just as we humans tend to thrive best when our bodies and brains are well exercised and our social needs met, so do our canine companions. By gradually accustoming Fido to alone time right from the get-go, and then diligently providing a lifestyle that meets physical, intellectual, and social needs, we greatly reduce the likelihood of many psychological problems—anxiety included.

Prevention checklist for the ver-r-ry attached
Dedicated dog lovers sometimes fall into the trap of nurturing an anxiety problem by allowing their own emotional needs to interfere with what their dog needs for good mental health.
Could this be you? The following checklist will help you gauge whether your
well-intended affection might, in fact, be bordering on anxiety-nurturing obsession.

Are you and your dog joined at the hip?
Letting your dog get used to 24/7 companionship is a disaster in the making. You may be available round the clock today, but circumstances can change unexpectedly. Help your dog become comfortable spending time alone before it is ever a necessity. My favourite first step for alone training is to cultivate a jaws-ercise addiction. When your dog salivates at the prospect of a long luscious date with a favourite food-stuffed chew toy as you prepare to leave the house, you’ll know you won’t be too desperately missed!

Do you smother your dog with attention to alleviate “separation guilt?”

Lavishing your dog with continuous attention when together creates an unnecessarily BIG contrast effect when you are apart. The very behaviour that soothes your guilty conscience can hinder your dog’s healthy independence. Blur the difference between being home and away by making sure you aren’t always fawning over her, or always at her beck and call. A baby gate across the hallway while preparing a meal, or some time behind a closed door while online or buried in a good novel, will help reduce the contrast between your presence and your absence.

Can your dog sleep solo?
While there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with sharing the sofas and bed with your fur-friend, making sure she can get some shut eye in a portable doggie den is not cruel—it is simply good planning. You never know when she will need to spend the night without you at another home, the veterinary clinic, or a boarding facility. Being accustomed to sleeping alone in a crate or ex-pen can prevent a night apart from being traumatic and triggering separation anxiety.

Do you like seeing your dog immersed in an activity without you?
If the idea of your dog enjoying pastimes independent of you makes your heart ache, then you need to take a good long look in the mirror. Healthy guardianship includes both the gratification of being needed and the desire to enjoy occasions apart. Just as a well-adjusted parent delights over their child having a blast at sleepaway camp, a well-adjusted dog guardian relishes their dog’s ability to have a good time without them. If you find yourself compelled to vie for attention when your dog is merrily massacring a rawhide, strategizing over where to bury a bone, or just bumming around with a dog buddy, then your behaviour may be fueling an anxiety problem—in both of you.

Do you cultivate a healthy sense of security and stability in your dog?
Dogs suffering from separation anxiety make better progress in their training programs when a “nothing in life is free” rule is invoked: the dog has to comply with a request before being granted something he wants. Learning that there are predictable ways of manipulating their environment, such as being picked up by sitting on command, or getting to eat supper by staying “off” the dish until invited to “take it” probably decrease anxiety by building confidence and reducing feelings of helplessness. Structure such as this breeds a sense of security and stability. Give your dog the psychological benefits of structure before an anxiety problem develops: ask her to do more than just lap up your affection—teach her constructive ways of manipulating the world around her.

Avoiding the doggie shrink: key points to remember

Healthy affection is but one of the ingredients to keeping your dog off Prozac. Like us, dogs need much more than love for emotional wellness. Enabling your dog to pursue interests other than you—interests that provide physical, social, and intellectual stimulation—will ensure that being needed, a naturally gratifying part of guardianship, isn’t what defines the relationship. Remember, cultivating confidence and independence in your dog so that she can enjoy time apart from you is a sure sign of healthy love.

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