Your dog who was once so independent…
Has now become glued to you out of the blue.
They follow you everywhere.
And they always want to be by your side.
So you can’t help but think…
“What’s with this sudden change?”
Read on to learn:
- What makes your dog clingy all of a sudden.
- Why they are following you around all the time.
- Reasons why old dogs become needy as they age.
- Whether you should be concerned about this or not.
- 7 useful tips on how to manage their clingy behavior.
- And many more…
Why is my dog so clingy all of a sudden?
Your dog is so clingy all of a sudden because they’re anxious, sick, or seeking attention. Anxiety can come from aging, jealousy, or boredom. As well as disorders like separation anxiety, depression, and PTSD. They may have also sensed something in you. While female dogs could be in heat or labor.
17 reasons why your dog is clingy all of a sudden
#1: They’re frightened
Your dog suddenly clings to you while panting heavily.
Plus, they also have a lowered tail and flattened ears.
“What’s going on?”
They might be spooked.
Those are the common signs of anxiety in dogs. And if they feel scared, they may seek refuge in the person they trust the most.
So in your Fido’s case, it’s none other than you – their human.
Speaking of this…
Have you heard about the ‘safe-haven effect’?
It’s an attachment theory. Which says that dogs might see their parents as ‘safe havens’ during stressful times.
And one study has proved this.
In the experiment, 30 dogs were observed while being approached by a stranger. And they were either alone or with their parents.
Researchers found that all canines had an increased heart rate. But, it was less evident when dogs have their humans by their side.
So this shows that parents can indeed act as their dogs’ buffer from stress.
Why has your dog become suddenly fearful?
There are many possible reasons.
They may have a conflict with other dogs or pets at home. Or they feel threatened by an unfamiliar hound or person.
And between fight or flight, your pooch chooses the latter. So they cling to you for security.
According to Merck Vets, fear is a natural reaction in animals. Especially when they encounter a threat. Or they’re in a novel situation.
However, if your dog is highly anxious. Meaning, they’re drooling and whining a lot. Along with destructive behaviors…
It could be that they have a phobia.
And this irrational fear might be caused by:
- A past trauma.
- Lack of socialization.
- Early maternal separation.
The most common example of this in dogs is ‘noise aversion.’
“What is it?”
It’s when canines are so sensitive to certain unexpected noises. Say loud sounds from fireworks, gunshots, and thunderstorms.
Due to fright, they may hide or show extreme clinginess to their humans. Or freeze and tremble in a spot.
So this, along with dim skies and rumbling thunder, could make them feel jittery during storms.
You might also like: Why Does My Dog Lick My Hair? 13 Weird Reasons + 3 Tips
#2: They have separation anxiety
Based on a study, 20% of dogs around the world have this issue.
And it’s often mistaken for clingy behavior.
But, these 2 are different.
Test it with your dog.
If you have a clingy one, they would want to stick with you whenever you’re around.
However, they’re also fine when you’re gone. And recover fast from being left alone.
But, if your pooch has separation problems…
They’ll panic right away when you’re out of their sight. So they’ll whine or bark excessively. And display destructive behaviors.
“What are other symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs?”
The clinginess may appear hours before your departure.
Some Fidos even nip at their parents’ clothes or hands because of anxiety.
As dogs can tell whether their humans are going somewhere or not. Based on what they’re doing and wearing.
Yup! Canines are observant.
You may not notice it. But, your pooch has been watching you all this time. (Well, not in a creepy way!)
So they know if it’s time for work due to your morning routine. Like having a shower. Putting on your work clothes and shoes.
They’ll also know you’re going out if you grab your keys and bag.
Once you’re out, they can show some of these signs:
- Refusing to eat or drink.
- Overgrooming (leading to self-harm).
Then when you arrive home, your dog will act so needy and excited.
“What is the root cause of separation anxiety in dogs?”
ASPCA says that this could be due to:
- Traumatic event.
- Loss of an important person.
#3: They’re jealous
Are there other dogs around whenever they act like this?
Or do you have a new member in the family?
If you recently had a new baby, puppy, or pet…
It could be that your dog is jealous of the attention they get.
Or, you’re unaware that you’re spending less time with your pooch nowadays. Which can make them feel lonely and anxious.
Research has shown that the dog-human relationship is similar to that of a child and a parent.
And one study found that jealousy doesn’t only exist in humans
Because dogs display jealous behaviors too. Like sudden clinginess. As well as so much interest towards their humans.
And they’ll do this when their parents interact with a ‘rival.’ Say, another canine or person.
Read also: Why does my dog bark when I hug someone?
#4: They’re unsure of their surroundings
Have you recently moved houses?
If so, this could also be the reason.
Because adjusting to a new place isn’t easy for our furry friends. Especially if they’re naturally fearful.
Or they’ve been moving a lot in their lifetime. Which is a likely scenario for rescue dogs.
So, it’ll take time for your pooch to be comfortable in an unfamiliar setting.
As everything’s novel for them – the people, sounds, and odors. So they might act like a dog (cat) on a hot tin roof.
And the only one that’s familiar to them is you. Which explains why they follow you around.
#5: Their daily lives started to lack structure
Do you have a usual routine?
Some people follow a strict one which keeps them on track. While others might have more flexible schedules.
Either way, routines put structure in our lives.
But, did you know that our dogs also thrive on it?
Dr. Jennifer Coates says that canines prefer predictability. And having a regular schedule can put them at ease.
Because they know what they’ll expect every day.
They don’t have to worry about getting their basic needs met. Like water and food. As they know that these will be given to them daily at certain times.
So, if their once consistent routine becomes irregular these days…
It could slowly stress out your dog. Which may lead to anxiety and result in clingy behavior.
#6: They can sense your pregnancy
Next, this is for women who are expecting a child.
“How is this connected?”
There are many reports of dogs being clingy and protective all of a sudden. And it’s when their female parent is having a baby.
Watch how these Fidos try to defend their pregnant moms’ belly:
There’s also news about a dog named ‘Apollo.’
His parent, Rachel Muniz, told People that she struggled to conceive her 1st child.
But one day, Apollo put his snout on Rachel’s tummy all of a sudden. And he did that for a long period of time. Which was unusual.
Then 3 weeks later, she found out that she was with a child.
You might also be interested in: 13 Surprising Reasons Why Dogs Sleep On Your Stomach
So, how can dogs sense pregnancy?
The Insider says that there’s no specific research about this.
But, experts believe that it’s possible.
Due to their strong senses – smell and hearing.
Canines are known to detect cancer by smelling urine.
And the 1st sign of pregnancy is high levels of ‘human chorionic gonadotropin’ a.k.a. hCG.
It’s a hormone that supports pregnancies. Which is also found in the urine.
After a missed period, this will show as early as 8 days, doctors say.
This is why pregnancy tests are able to know whether a woman is with a child or not.
Specialists also share that dogs can sense a pregnant woman’s discomfort. Through her stress or the way she walks.
Plus, there could be a slight change in her scent.
And this may occur before she goes into labor. Which causes dogs to be extra clingy and protective.
#7: They’re about to give birth
But what if it’s your dog that’s pregnant?
If yes, it could be that they’re near their due date.
And this is why your pregnant dog is so clingy all of a sudden.
Usually, the common signs of labor in canines are shaking and heavy panting.
But, dogs may also become confused and anxious.
Specifically first-time moms. As they’ll have the urge to find a perfect spot to give birth as well.
“How can I be sure that my dog is going into labor?”
According to AKC, a drop in rectal temperature is an accurate sign. It’ll go down to 100°F (37.7°C). Or lower than 99°F (37°C).
And this will occur around 8 to 24 hours before giving birth.
Other symptoms to watch out for are:
- Reduced appetite.
- ‘Nesting’ – pacing, digging, searching for a whelping area.
#8: They’re having their ‘estrus cycle’
“What is it?”
It’s commonly known as ‘heat.’
Or a period where female dogs are the most fertile and ready for reproduction. Which first occurs around 6 months old for most canines.
Based on vets, a dog’s estrus cycle has 4 different phases. (Proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus.)
And every stage will cause different changes in their body. Either in their physical state. Or hormonal levels.
Like having a bloody discharge and swollen ‘vulva’ (genitals) in the first few days. As well as an urge to pee or hump objects.
These changes may result in discomfort. Which could make your dog needier all of sudden.
#9: They feel unwell
A sick dog can also become clingy out of the blue.
Canines can’t tell their parents if they feel something. And they’ll likely hide their discomfort. As long as it’s bearable.
So this sudden change in behavior could mean that something might be wrong with them.
And this is more likely if they also exhibit other signs, like:
- Loss of appetite.
A study suggests that noise sensitivity can be a sign of pain too. Which is also more probable for older dogs.
Specifically in the musculoskeletal area. Which is composed of:
- Soft tissues.
Note: Sudden clinginess is also observed in dogs who have incoming seizures. For this, remove any dangerous (sharp) objects around. Put your dog away from the stairs. Then time and video their episode for vet consultation.
Reading tip: Why does my dog grab my arm?
#10: They have a physical discomfort
“Do dogs get clingy when in pain?”
When injured or hurt, some dogs might isolate themselves.
But, each canine is different so their reactions may vary. And other dogs can become needier instead.
If this is your case, you’ll also notice:
- Sudden limping.
- Hesitating to get up/walk/climb.
- Yelping when touched in certain areas.
The American Animal Hospital Association reports that this could be due to:
- Dental issues.
- Ear infections.
- Bone disorders.
Puppies might also have panosteitis or ‘growing pains.’
This is a reason for lameness in young dogs.
And it usually happens in large pups who are prone to bone problems. Like German Shepherds and Retrievers.
While older dogs may have arthritis or a slipped disc. As well as soft-tissue injuries.
Note: If your dog has these signs, have them checked by a vet. To know the right pain relief and treatment for their condition.
#11: They have canine dementia
Do you have a senior dog?
If so, it’s also possible that they have ‘canine cognitive dysfunction’ a.k.a. CCD.
And research points out that it’s similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
First, it’ll manifest in slight memory decline.
Then it’ll start to affect a dog’s behavior. As well as their movements.
This memory loss will cause anxiety in canines. As their surroundings will start to become unfamiliar to them.
So what will they do?
They may stick with their humans for safety.
“What are its other symptoms?”
- Getting lost.
- Staring into space.
- Becoming irritable.
- Withdrawn behavior.
- Change in sleeping pattern.
- Responding less to commands.
Continue reading: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Afraid Of You + 3 Tips
#12: They have a sensory decline
Aside from dementia, older dogs also tend to become needier as years pass by.
And it’s because of vision and hearing loss.
Due to this, they’ll be hesitant to move around. And they might cling to you most of the time for support.
A dog with poor sight may often bump on things. Especially at night, when it’s dark.
And this could be due to a vision problem, like:
- Nuclear sclerosis.
A study reveals that cataract is common in 14.1% of dogs above 7 to 10 years old.
While hearing impairments mainly affect middle-aged to older dogs.
And canines who have this will be unresponsive to most sounds. Particularly when being called.
#13: They lack stimulation
Boredom could also be the root cause of this.
Dogs are balls of energy. And if they’re not stimulated enough (physically and mentally)...
They might resort to attention-seeking behaviors.
This is why they suddenly come to you.
And keep on touching you with their paws. As an invite to play or go for a walk.
#14: They crave attention (and…rewards)
You’re lying on the couch while watching TV.
Then your dog suddenly climbs all over you.
“What could this mean?”
It might be that your pooch longs for your attention. As you may have been so busy these days.
They learned that being clingy often gets rewarded. Because you give them snacks, kisses, or cuddles.
So now, your dog keeps on following you around. In hopes of receiving some yummy treats or belly rubs.
#15: They have canine PTSD
This is short for canine post-traumatic disorder a.k.a. C-PTSD.
Based on experts, it’s a serious form of anxiety disorder
Which is usually a result of a traumatic event. For example, accidents, wars, or disasters.
This is why military dogs are mostly affected by it.
According to a report, 5% to 10% of canines deployed in duties suffered from this in 2014.
One of them is a working dog named ‘Gina.’
She was on duty in Iraq for 6 months. But then, some marines tossed flash-bang grenades near her.
As a result, she can’t do her tasks anymore. Due to extreme anxiety.
Although PTSD is usually seen in military canines…
Dr. Nicholas Dodman also said in the same report that pet dogs can also have this condition.
PetsWebMD explains that this could also be due to:
- Loss of a parent.
- Serious dog-fight.
Because of this, dogs may cling to their humans due to fright. And their episodes can be triggered by a similar event. Like hearing a related sound.
Other PTSD signs are:
- Sudden panting.
- Excessive vocalization.
#16: They’re depressed
Have you noticed other changes in your dog’s behavior?
Like they’re now less interested in things they usually enjoy?
If so, this might be a case of depression.
“What may have caused this?”
Vets say that this could be due to a major change in their life.
Like moving houses or having a new member of the family. And their anxiety progressed to a severe disorder.
They said that losing an important companion is the most common reason for this. Say the death of a parent or pet friend.
In fact, research found that 74% of 159 grieving dogs became more affectionate. And this was after they lost an animal companion.
It was also reported that they sought more attention from their parents. And 35% of them ate less. While 34% of dogs slept more than usual.
Read next: Why doesn’t my dog howl?
#17: They’re trying to make you feel better
Lastly, dogs can also sense human emotions.
So, if you’re feeling under the weather these days…
Your pooch might have also picked up on it.
This is why they’ve become clingy all of a sudden. As they’re trying to cheer you up
Dogs on the rescue!
A study about this was conducted in 2018.
Its aim was to know whether dogs will help their humans who are in distress or not.
And the results?
Canines reached out quickly to help their parents who made crying noises.
Interesting fact: Researchers also say that dogs can mirror our stress. And it’s usually the case for those who had bonded for a long time.
What to do when your dog is clingy all of a sudden? 7 tips
#1: Help them overcome their anxiety
For fearful dogs
- Identify the trigger: It could be a new object, an external noise, or a stranger.
- Avoid or remove it away from your dog.
- Calm your Fido: Talk to them softly. And direct them to their ‘safe place.’ This can be a crate or a separate room with their toys in it.
If it’s not possible to remove the trigger, help your dog conquer their fears.
By gradually exposing them to it.
For example, socialize them more if they’re afraid of strangers. Or get them used to the sound that’s terrifying them.
Replace their negative associations with good ones. So while doing it, offer them tasty treats. And praise them if they’re being calm.
These would also help dogs with PTSD. Along with medications if their case is serious.
Note: Start in a set-up that’ll not overwhelm your dog. Say, keep a safe distance from other people outside. Then slowly move closer if they seem fine with it.
For anxious dogs
Establish a routine. It doesn’t need to be too strict. Make a realistic one that works for both of you.
Set a feeding, playing, exercising, and sleeping schedule. And do these things around the same time each day. To provide stability in their everyday life.
Get them moving. Release their pent-up nervous energy by exercising. Take them out for more walks. Or play with them more often.
Consider anxiety jackets. This is for dogs who have a noise phobia. Research suggests that these help reduce anxiety. As the pressure they create gives off a feeling of being hugged.
Keep calm. Your dog can sense your nerves. So to not add up to their anxiety, try to act calmly while you’re dealing with an anxious pooch.
Note: For severe cases, vets may give medications to lessen anxiety.
For jealous dogs
- Feed your pets separately.
- Try to avoid giving more attention to another pet. Keep it as equal as possible.
- Crate train them. This will be helpful in time-outs. As well in giving them space to settle down on their own.
- Ignore clingy behaviors. But reward each of your pets when they behave. And act friendly to each other.
#2: Say goodbye to separation anxiety
There are many ways to do this.
First, try leaving your dog in a room for short periods of time. Say, at least 3 seconds as a starting point.
Come back quickly and praise them while they’re calm. Then gradually lengthen the time. Until they get used to it.
Then after this, keep these tips in mind:
- Always exercise your dog first thing in the morning.
- Adjust the lights, radios, or TVs 30 minutes before going out.
- Avoid interacting much with your dog minutes before departure.
- Provide a comfy place for your dog. And leave them dog-safe interesting toys (e.g., chewy ones, puzzles).
- Try to ignore your dog’s attention-seeking behaviors.
- If they know some basic commands, ask them to do one instead.
- Give them attention only if they’ve settled down. And praise them a lot for it.
You may consider these too:
Dog-appeasing pheromones (DAP)
Consult about this with your vet. And pair this with training. As medicines alone will not solve the problem.
Note: Modifying your dog’s behavior won’t be easy. It takes a lot of time and patience. But, it’s inexpensive and effective once done right.
#3: Put your pregnant dog at ease
Your pooch is near to giving birth.
So for this, they need a comfy nesting area.
To lessen their worries, place more newspapers or towels in their whelping place. Until it’s up to their liking.
If you haven’t set up any, do so. As they may deliver at any moment.
- Ensure that the space is 2 times greater than your dog’s body at all sides. So she and her pups can move with ease.
- Provide a puppy rail along the perimeter. Make the ledge at least 3 in (7 cm) high.
- Cut an entryway for your dog. But high enough to avoid her pups from getting out.
Note: Once you’re done, give her some privacy. Female dogs rarely need help while giving birth. But, some may need assistance in removing the membranes from their pups.
#4: Reassure your dog who’s in heat
Female dogs who are in season might need extra TLC. Especially if it’s their first cycle.
So, stay with your Fido as much as you can.
Keep her distracted with long-lasting treats. Or chewy toys when you’re not around.
Also, provide a comfortable spot for her. Lay some washable sheets that they could snuggle with.
And replace these regularly as they’ll also absorb your dog’s discharges.
#5: Make your senior dog’s life easier
Aging is inevitable.
Dogs may start having memory and sensory decline. Along with joint pains.
But, there are still ways to help them live comfortably.
- Have regular vet check-ups. Do this every 6 months.
- Keep your furniture layout as it is. To avoid confusion.
- Stimulate your dog mentally. Give them interactive puzzles.
- Set up dog gates by the stairs or any risky areas. To prevent accidents.
- Place their belongings in the same usual place. Say, feeding bowls, toys, and bed.
- Consider placing carpets in slippery areas. To provide traction and help with mobility.
- If you can, put ramps or steps near the bed and couches. To make it safer and easier for them to go up and down.
#6: Curb their attention-seeking behavior
Being clingy all of a sudden is often a product of boredom.
So to avoid this…
Increase their exercise
Monitor your dog. If they’re still energetic at night, they might need more walks or playtime in the day.
PDSA says that working dogs need at least 2 hours of exercise daily.
While it’s 1 hour for small to medium-size canines. And a minimum of 30 minutes to toy breeds. As well as puppies who are 6 months old and above.
Work out their mind
Physical activities aren’t enough. Provide puzzle toys. Or replace their bowls with puzzle feeders.
This is to keep them entertained on their own. And to tire them out further – in a healthy way.
Schedule play dates
They may also be bored and in need of a play buddy. Find well-socialized dogs of their age or size. Ask your friends or family who have furry friends.
Supervise them during this. And be aware of the dogs’ body language.
Note: Ignore your dog whenever they’re doing this for attention. You’ll know it if they do it frequently. And they don’t seem in pain or bothered by something.
#7: Get them out of depression
This might sound impossible at first.
But, with effort and patience, you may be able to help your pooch get back on track.
So how can you do this?
Offer more cuddles
Depressed dogs likely need reassurance from their humans. So give them more time and grooming sessions.
But still, keep it balanced. And also give them ‘alone time.’
Engage them in fun activities
Even if they refuse, keep motivating them to exercise – to relieve stress. Do the things they used to like. And make it more interesting.
Prepare a high-value treat (e.g., steak, chicken meat). Or buy new toys for them.
Because research found that novel items usually catch the attention of dogs.
Try natural supplements
Like fish oil and probiotics.
Note: Clomicalm and Prozac are also used to treat depression. But, they’ll only be given if nothing seems to work on their condition.
People also ask:
Why is my dog all of a sudden following me everywhere?
Your dog is following you everywhere all of a sudden because they’re insecure and in need of company. They can also do this if they want something from you. Or due to jealousy, boredom, or separation issues.
But, do you have a pregnant female dog?
If so, they might also be close to giving birth.
They’re confused and anxious. And they also want you to help them find a nice whelping spot.
However, if you’re the one who’s pregnant, your dog may have sensed it.
They’re trying to protect you. So they always follow you around.
Why is my dog staying so close to me?
Your dog is staying so close to you due to anxiety, jealousy, or an underlying illness. But this might also be a sign of a mental disorder. Like depression and PTSD.
Jealous dogs could also stick close to their parents. Especially when there are other hounds around.
Senior Fidos can do this as well. Due to pain, dementia, or sensory loss. While females in heat may also want some company.
But if you feel unwell, your dog might have picked up on it. So they’re comforting you by staying by your side.