why is my dog so clingy all of sudden
Category_Dog Knowledge

Why Is My Dog So Clingy All of a Sudden?

by Andrew Ehlert

So, your pup is by your side more often than usual, even though they’re usually more independent. Even though you may love spending extra time with your dog, it can be worrying to see a change in their behavior.

Why Is My Dog So Clingy All of a Sudden?

There are many reasons your dog may be clingier than usual. Some dogs are stressed or anxious, which can lead to separation anxiety. Age, changes in their environment, and health may also be factors. If your dog is “glued to your hip” suddenly, not to worry. You have options to help them regain their independence.

Here are the most common reasons dogs become clingy.

Learned Behavior

Dogs learn behaviors by picking up on patterns (and even words) as infants do. For example, when you get ready for work, they may realize that it’s time to go in their crate without saying anything. Your dog may be clingy because you’ve been more attached to them than usual.

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As with other patterns, puppies that get extra attention may become afraid of being by themselves. They become dependent on your affection and less independent in return.


As dog's age, their bodies go through changes. They may lose their hearing and sight or experience cognitive decline. Their world becomes less and less familiar to them, so they cling to the person they trust the most for guidance.

Physical Pain or Illness

Just like toddlers need extra attention when they’re sick, dogs act similarly. When they’re not feeling well, they want to be close to their trusted companion for support.

Becoming clingy all of a sudden could be due to something minor or more severe. If you notice any other symptoms associated with clinginess, speak to a veterinarian.

Clingy Dog Breeds

Some dog breeds are more likely to be clingy than others. Lapdogs, for example, tend to enjoy being close to their humans and desire plenty of affection.

Emotional support dogs or service dogs may also become clingy as they’re used to caring for their owners.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs can experience stress and anxiety the way humans do. Many people can relate to having co-dependency issues when they’re feeling anxious. So, if a dog is feeling stressed out, they may cling to their owners for comfort.

On the other hand, dogs are incredibly perceptive and can sense when humans are anxious. If your dog notices that you’re feeling uneasy or upset, it may stick by your side to comfort you.

Separation anxiety is when your dog feels exceptionally anxious when you leave, even if it’s just for a minute or two.

Signs you may see if your dog has separation anxiety:

  • Easily scared
  • Sleeping next to their owner
  • Showing signs of aggression
  • Destroying things when separated from their owners
  • Pooping or peeing when their owners leave
  • Pacing when they sense their owners are about to leave
  • Whining as soon as their owners exit the house
  • Getting stressed by more things, such as loud noises

Dogs that are clingy but don’t have separation anxiety may follow you around the house, but don’t panic as soon as you leave. If a dog starts developing separation anxiety, it will experience extreme distress if you go for any amount of time.

It may seem like your dog is throwing a fit if you leave, even if you’re checking the mailbox. They may destroy furniture, pee on your clothes, chew up shoes, and cry for hours.

If you suspect that your dog has separation anxiety, talk to a veterinary behaviorist to work with you and your dog to help manage it. Some dogs will even repeatedly lick you if they are struggling with separation anxiety.

Life or Routine Changes

As previously mentioned, dogs pick up on patterns and routines. Throughout their life, they depend on this sense of normalcy. If their world suddenly changes, they may cling to the person who gives them a sense of security.

If you plan on moving or getting a new pet, allow them to adjust to their new changes gradually.

How to Make Your Dog Less Attached To You

The best way to reduce clinginess in your dog is to create routines that allow them more independence. Here are some strategies that may help your dog not be so clingy.

Increase Exercise

Tired dogs are more well-behaved dogs. Ensuring that your pup has plenty of time to tire themselves out will keep them healthy and keep them less bored.

Make sure to give your dog the appropriate workout for their breed and size.

Add in More Playtime

Like with exercise, playtime helps your dog with boredom. If your dog is bored, it may cling to you because what else is there to do? Find interactive toys that keep your dog mentally stimulated without needing your constant attention.

Create a Safe Space

Dogs who have their own safe space to allow them to have a source of comfort other than their owner. Choose an area in your home where they have their own bed and engaging toys. When they start to cling, give a command such as, “Go to your safe space,” and then provide them with a treat when they do.

Normalize Your Movements

It’s incredible the little things dogs can pick up on. You may not even notice the little things you do that trigger your dog. Think about what your routine is like when you leave. You probably pick up your keys, grab your purse or wallet, or put on new clothes.

Take note of the routine you have before heading out of the house. Start doing the same pattern without leaving. This will help your dog not to associate these movements with something negative. Over time, they should realize that these activities don’t require attention.

Final Thoughts On Clingy Dogs

Dogs can become clingy for various reasons, from age to illness to changes in their environment. Once you determine what is causing your dog’s clinginess, you can start taking action to reduce it. If you struggle with figuring out what’s causing it, consult your dog’s veterinarian.

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