Why does my dog follow my wife everywhere?
Why Does My Dog Follow Me and Not My Husband?
The following guide was written by a female friend of ours who has seen some strange behavior recently from her dog. It seems to follow her about everywhere, but not her husband. If you’ve experienced the same, read on as she gets the answer to why it happens.
Why does my dog only follow me and not my husband?
Dogs follow just one person in a relationship for a number of reasons including thinking you’re the pack leader, companionship, expecting treats and rewards, comfort, and learned behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, I love having my dog always beside me at home. However, it can get a bit much to be stalked around the house so much, particularly as my dog only follows me about and never my husband! My dog thinks I am the leader of the pack in my house. I also give my dog more treats than my husband and, therefore, he follows me about in anticipation for more.
A brief story about my family and dog
My husband and I are newlywed. We’re roughly a year and a half now into our marriage and live together with our dog. It’s just the three of us in our two-bedroom apartment. Before that we lived separately during our dating period I moved in when we got engaged and we got our dog as a puppy. Almost from day 1, he seemed more attached to me than my future husband. I’ve done some research into why this happens, and have found the following reasons why I my dog follows me more than my husband including:
1. My dog has imprinted on me
Immediately after our honeymoon, my husband had to travel to Europe for a few months. His absence meant it was just me and the dog left in the apartment. According to a research by May Burch, PhD, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviourist and the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Director that was posted on Petmd.com,
“Apart from imprinting on dogs, puppies can imprint on people as well and the imprinting period for puppies is between three and 12 weeks old.”
What is often called “imprinting behaviour” in dogs generally means bonding and Billy has come to regard me and me alone as his source of everything.
2. Separation anxiety
In terms of daily life, my husband tends to work from home while I go to the hospital since I am a health practitioner and cannot work from home. Occasionally our dog has separation anxiety for me and this I believe, makes him cling more to me. He whines and cries when I am about to leave the house. Also, my husband always narrates to me whenever I return from work on how it always
- Frequently urinates and defecates (even pees on my clothes)
- Chews on the exit door and window seal
- Attempts to escape and flee from the home and
- Paces around incessantly.
All these are signs of separation anxiety, with the biggest one being our dog follows me about, and not my husband.
3. Positive reinforcement
My dog follows me all the time rather than my partner because our bond has been paired with a great deal of positive reinforcement. He knows that good things such as his food, pats and fun activities like walks, come mostly from me.
As a result, my dog will follow me everywhere in anticipation of these goodies, even into the bathroom!
4. Exhibiting his trait
Our dog is a Norfolk Terrier and as companions, they love people and children and do make good pets. They are not usually kept or allowed to live outside since they thrive more on human contact.
This breed, just like most other breeds that have been bred for centuries to work with people, resultantly become Velcro dogs and follow their owners around and want to be by their side at all times.
Often called clingy, Velcro dogs have a desire to be close to their owners… so it stands to reason he will follow me all over place instead of other people.
Perhaps the most obvious reason, my dog likes my companionship, just like a child to the mother. Laurie Santos, PhD, a professor of psychology and director of the Canine Cognition Centre at Yale University says:
“Over the process of domestication, natural selection has shaped dogs to become companions for humans. Domesticated dogs are now ‘bonded’ with humans in some of the same ways as human children. In this sense, our bond with dogs is one that has evolved over the course of domestications.”
5. You are the leader of the pack
It’s weird when you look at it from the point of the traditional gender roles, but in our home, I’m usually in charge of what goes on while my husband just basically follows through.
No disrespect whatsoever to my husband, though.
Dogs are pack animals by nature and tend to follow the leader of the pack, and I think this is what my dog is doing by following me and not my husband. It’s just a fact that I appear to be my dog’s favorite person.
As much I like having my dog beside me at times, I also want to be in the arms of my husband cuddling and doing couple things. With the dog stalking and putting his nose in, our moods always immediately dampen preventing us from being physical because to me, it is weird making out knowing that I’m being watched – even if the onlooker is a dog.
Also, going to bed hasn’t been easy because my dog will always want to lie on the same bed with me. She will even try to sleep on top of me, sometimes my head! When I take it away to its bed at the hallway, it whines and growls at our bedroom door.
These sounds disturb us while being intimate and during intercourse. Also, it prevents us from having a good night rest.
6. Hostile behavior
This doesn’t apply to me but can do in abusive relationships. For example, if a dog sees a husband raising his voice, or even worse towards the wife, it can lead to protective behavior.
How has this affected our wife and husband relationship?
I think what my dog is doing to me in human terms is called “stalking”, and we all know how creepy and disturbing that is. The dog is very obsessed with me, and its unending demand for my attention wears me out most times – as much as it’s cute a lot of the time too!
If you have ever experienced a dog following you all the time instead of your husband, you would likely either have found it incredibly endearing or you would have been tired of almost tripping over him all the time.
Handy Hint: Does your dog follow you to the bathroom and site outside? If so, it could be the sign of something serious.
How can this be corrected?
Well, I didn’t foresee this behavior of my dog earlier when it was still a puppy and the action could have easily been averted. More so, howling over it now would be of no good and counter-productive.
Therefore, I have taken steps to ensure that our dog enjoys spending time with my husband and any future cohabitant of the house – have I told you that I’m expecting a baby? Also, that it is confident and comfortable being by itself too.
Firstly, I started by teaching it to be comfortable staying behind whenever I leave where it is. To achieve this, I found a focal point for it to wait on – its bed. I usually put it on its focal point and take a step away, then come back and reward it.
Secondly, I have asked my husband to be the sole carer of our dog. For now, he alone feeds, bathes and attends to all Billy’s needs.
Whenever anyone gets a new dog, they focus mostly on training it to obey basic commands but often overlook training the dog to be independent and okay when left alone. Proactive training to avoid separation anxiety is always the best choice when possible.
My current corrective measures are quite productive, and there seems to be a slight decrease in its clinginess towards me – he actually followed my husband last week!
However, I hope to seek the service of a veterinarian or dog behaviourist if my desired result is not attained.
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Signs Your Dog Sees You As The Alpha
Dogs were first domesticated 15,000 years ago. Since that time, the extraordinary bond between humans and these animals has existed. Dogs are pack animals who live in a well-established hierarchy, and they see their humans as members of their pack. Due to this, it is important to establish yourself as the pack leader while still showing respect and affection to your canine companion.
Defining the Pack Order
All modern dogs are descended from wolves, perhaps one of the best-known pack animals. They are also social animals with an instinctive understanding of a chain of command. The pack leaders, one male, and one female are called the alphas. Beneath the alphas are the numerous betas. At the bottom of this social ranking is one or more omegas. Domestic dogs must see their human as the alpha. This means that under your pup’s love and affection exists a tremendous amount of respect for a dog to see you as the pack leader. If your pup shows certain signs, they have granted you the role of alpha. Just remember that it is as important to show your dog the respect they have given you.
Your Dog Follows You
According to the pack code, alphas are at the front of the line, betas are in the middle, and omegas are in the back and double as lookouts. If your dog follows you, this indicates it sees you as the pack leader and is exhibiting the instinctive behavior of walking behind the alpha. When it comes to a multi-person household, the individual your pooch follows is the one who has been deemed the top dog. This applies when it comes to walking through doors. In the wild, an alpha always enters the den first to make sure it is safe for the rest of the pack. When a dog lets you walk through a door first, this is a sure sign it sees you as the alpha.
Because dogs are social animals, they are very affectionate with the people they care about. It is also a request for approval from the alpha. So all of those licks, kisses, and nuzzles are your dog’s way of asking if they are in good standing with their pack. As dogs have their own unique personalities, these forms of affection can vary significantly.
Are you worried that your pup might not like you? Check out these telltale behaviors.
In the wild, the alpha eats first. If your dog sees you as the alpha, they will permit you to eat first and refrain from snatching or stealing food. This is a sign of respect. In your home, you set your dog’s feeding schedule. If your pup sees you as the alpha, he or she will patiently wait for food or subtly ask for table scraps. And more importantly, your dog will not swipe food from your plate.
Giving Up the Comfy Spots
Snuggling is a great way to bond with your dog, but this needs to be on the owner’s terms. Luckily, if your dog deems you the alpha, it will reserve the comfiest spot in the room for you. Even if Fido is lounging in that oh-so-warm chair by the fire, he will get up the moment he knows you are near. Or, your dog might linger in your favorite place when you aren’t there as a sign of trying to be close to you. Either way, it is an affectionate and heart-warming gesture topped only by your faithful companion seeming to guide you to the most relaxing space in your “den.”
Breaking Eye Contact
Eye contact is a show of strength among all creatures. If your dog breaks eye contact, this is a telltale sign of submission. In the wild, alphas put betas and omegas in their place with a decisive stare. If your dog breaks eye contact with you first, this is a dramatic sign of them viewing you as the alpha. It also demonstrates that you can discipline your dog with nothing more than a look. Just avoid being aggressive with eye contact as this can be a challenge to dominance, thus not wise to utilize when trying to win a dog’s trust or form a bond.
Pack leaders are responsible for staying cool in stressful situations. As the alpha, you need to stay strong for your dog during tough times like thunderstorms, vet visits, or anything else that might be traumatic for your pup. It is your duty as a good pet parent to soothe and comfort when necessary. On the flip side, if you abuse or hurt your pet when it is the most vulnerable, they could lose faith in you. These are the times to step up to the plate and be the alpha your dog needs you to be. Owning a pet is a tremendous responsibility, so live up to this and make the most of the limited time you have with your furry friend.
Living Up to Your Dog’s Expectations
The bond between dogs and people is nothing less than extraordinary. You are your pup’s world; remember that. The years it took to build trust and a bond can vanish in a second if you cease to be the pack leader your dog follows. Once you become the alpha, you have even more responsibilities, and you must adjust your mindset to see yourself through your dog’s eyes. There is an adage that reputations take years to build but seconds to destroy. The same principle applies to the relationship you build with a pet.
Trying to come up with some activities that will delight your pup? Check out these adventures!
Image SourceBeing the pack alpha is a significant role that is not to be taken lightly. Humans and dogs have protective instincts, especially regarding each other. Fifteen millennia of this bond is difficult to break, but it can happen quickly on a micro-level. Never forget that you must give respect to get respect from any creature, including the noble companions that are dogs.