If your dog starts acting very affectionate and clingy towards you, there might be a good reason for it.
Maybe he just had a bad experience with someone in your family or maybe something in his environment has changed.
Whatever the reason, it’s important that you try to figure out what’s troubling him, so you can help him overcome it.
Your dog will get clingy to you when he is suffering from separation anxiety, going through his different life cycle (aging), feeling stress in a new environment or there is a new member in your home. He could be feeling bored or feeling loss due to a change of his routine.
Suffering From Separation Anxiety
When your dog starts to cling on you, he could be saying “I need you”. He needs reassurance that he is still important to you and that you will still love him and take care of him.
The reason why he has this disorder could be that you have been neglecting him lately, and he is feeling lonely and abandoned.
Or you have moved to a new house, and he has a new environment to adjust to.
So, when you see that your dog starts to whine or cry whenever you are about to leave his side for any length of time, he could be suffering from separation anxiety.
In fact, many dogs suffer from it to some degree. However, if your dog is “overdoing” this behavior, you will need to work on correcting him.
It is easy for you to fall into the trap of assuming that your dog is acting up because he is “upset” about something.
BUT, if you pay attention, you will notice that he is not only whining and crying, but is also licking his paws.
All these are very clear signs that he is feeling uncomfortable being alone.
Do not get angry at him for his whining or talk to him in a harsh tone of voice.
Train him to learn how to cope with your absence and here is what you can do:
First, start with being away from him for a short period of time, such as going to your room and closing the door for 10 minutes.
If he remains calm and quiet, reward him with a treat and praise him for being such a “good boy!”.
And if he starts to whine and cry, do not go to him immediately. WAIT till he had stopped whining, then go to him and give him a treat.
The goal is to make him associate that by being calm, he will be rewarded (with treats, praise and your attention) and by whining and crying he will be punished (he will be ignored).
As he is behaving well during your short absence, try a longer separation. Go to the room for 30 minutes or more.
And each time he whines or cries, don’t go to him immediately. Instead, wait till he has quit whining, then give him a treat.
Over time, he will adjust to your absence and learn to be calm and confident without your presence.
He will understand that when you are not around, he will have to deal with it calmly.
Also, get him some chewing toys to keep him occupied when you are not with him.
You see, sometimes just the simple presence of something that your dog can chew on while you are away can quiet down an anxious dog!
Remember to allocate some quality time to spend with your dog and play with him whenever you are available.
Make him feel that you care for him and build a bond with him.
Sometimes, the most important thing you can do for your dog is just be there with him with no distractions.
This is probably what your dog needs most… your undivided attention.
Going Through Different Life Cycle
When your dog gets older, he tends to get clingy because he is searching for the love and security he once had when he was a puppy.
Aging causes his hearing and vision to deteriorate, and his world is starting to shrink.
You are the only ONE that he can rely on.
As a matter of fact, as he ages, his love for you deepens even more. However, this doesn’t mean that you should spoil him or pamper him.
You see, as much as he still needs and wants your love and attention, he also needs to be independent.
So how do you prevent him from being overly clingy to you?
Well, you can make him help you out with some simple chores such as fetching newspapers, closing doors, picking up, finding or bringing items to you.
That will keep his mind busy and stop clinging to you.
You can also give a KONG toy stuffed with frozen treats to make him busy with the task of getting the treat out of the toy.
Don’t make it too “challenging” for him as he is getting old, and you do not want to run the risk of injuring him.
Make the tasks simple enough so that you know he can accomplish them.
Set up the tasks for success and that will make your dog happy. This will also keep him active and ease his boredom.
Stress Due to New Environment
If you move to a new home, your dog will naturally feel stressed and nervous as everything (sight and smell) now looks so unfamiliar to him.
This will make him nervous, and he will want to cling to you even more.
The first couple of days are the hardest for your dog. He’ll be searching for a familiar scent or something he can recognize as “home”.
Give him time. It may take a week for your dog to adjust to a new home. What you can do is provide him with comforting things like his favorite toys, his bed, his food and, most importantly – YOU!
Spend more time petting him and talking to him. Don’t scold him or yell at him if he makes any accidents. Just stay calm and comforting, and he will start to adjust to his new home.
Don’t forget to praise him when he does start to enjoy his new surroundings.
Praise is a form of positive reinforcement and is very important for your dog who is doing his best to adapt to his new environment.
New Member In Your Home
You have a newborn baby and your dog sees that you are giving all your attention to the baby and ignoring him.
He is trying his best to get your attention by clinging to you as he wants to make sure that he is always in your thoughts and will do anything to win your affection.
What you should do is to give your dog more TLC (tender, love and care) by letting him sit on your lap and snuggle while you watch over your baby.
Get him his own special place (maybe a playpen) where he can stay and play with his toys and still be able to see you.
Make time to play games such as “treasure hunt”, “fetch the stick”, “hide-and-seek”, with your dog. These interactive games will help to develop a bond with your dog and make him trust you.
This will go a long way in helping him adjust to his new life (with your new baby) and will take the edge off most behavioral problems.
Changes In His Routine
Dogs like to have a scheduled routine to follow through and if he doesn’t have one (or you have made a change of his routine), he will get stressed and anxious and will be more likely to cling to you.
Make sure that you have a regular routine setup for him so that he knows when he will have his meal, take a nap, go for a play as well as potty time.
Once he gets used to this routine, he will feel at ease and be more confident handling what is going to happen for the day and be less dependent on you.
He Is Bored
When your dog is bored, and you have not given him any things to keep him busy, he will just cling to you, nibbling on your clothes, hoping that you will play with him.
He may even keep staring at you when you are asleep, waiting for you to wake up and play with him.
What you can do is to help your dog to release his pent-up energy so that he will be in low energy mode and be less likely to “pester” you to play with him.
Get him to engage in some physical exercise.
Take him out for a long walk or take him for a run. Play fetch with him or throw a ball for him to chase after.
Involve him in some mental challenge such as learning some new tricks, playing some memory games or teaching him some new commands.
All these will give him something to do with all that pent-up energy and tire him out.
If your dog has been acting differently than usual lately, such as touching you when he sleeps, you should pay closer attention to him.
That way, you’ll notice things that you have perhaps overlooked.
For instance, is your dog barking more often than usual? Does he look extremely exhausted for no reason or does he appear scared or depressed?
By paying closer attention to your dog, chances are, you will get a clue about what is causing him to cling to you suddenly.