Why Do Dogs Stand Behind You

Dogs often stand behind their owners to keep an eye on them. Sometimes, dogs may also behave this way out of fear. By standing behind their owners, they will feel safe and protected.

Are those the only reasons for your dog’s behavior? Let’s find out in this post.

Your dog will stand behind you when he needs your protection or if he feels guilty and wants to avoid your gaze. Perhaps he’s feeling shy and trying to hide. His aim is to be close to you, but he doesn’t wish to hinder your activities. He wants to protect you from harm. He has learned that behavior is rewarding.

His Fear Grips Him

A young dog, especially one that has not been trained on socialization, may have a hard time managing his fears when facing new people or circumstances.

Whenever he is confronted with an unfamiliar situation, such as a more dominant dog or a stranger, he is likely to feel a sense of fear. 

The fact might be that he doesn’t know what to do in such a situation and will often turn to someone he trusts to protect him.

Given his regard for you as his alpha, hiding behind you is certainly the best way for him to feel protected and secure.

You need to introduce him to socialization training so that he can learn how to interact with other dogs, people, and situations. This will also help him to overcome his fears and become a better dog.

Here is what you will need to do: 

1. The first step is to get him used to having another dog in the house. Introduce him to a well-trained dog in a place where he will feel comfortable and secure, such as in your bedroom or in a quiet yard. 

Spend a few minutes every day doing this until your dog gets used to the presence of another dog and starts playing with him.

2. Next, expose him to new places that he has never been to before. You could take him on a stroll around the neighborhood and introduce him to new people and dogs.

Make sure you keep your dog on a leash and walk calmly with him. Let him feel your calm energy, and he’ll feel at ease. 

If he becomes anxious or fearful, distract him with toys, treats, or even hold him in your arms to help him overcome his anxiety.

After your dog gets used to the walk, you can make it a little more exciting by taking him to a dog park.  

If you plan to approach other dogs in the park, make sure that your dog is on a leash.

Start off at a distance of 4-6 feet, and move closer to them as your dog becomes accustomed to them. Your dog needs to be slowly introduced to the dogs so that he will feel comfortable around them.

The goal is to show him that the other dogs will not hurt him and that he will be safe with them. This should relieve any fears he may have about other animals.

3. Over time, you will notice that your dog is becoming comfortable around other dogs and people. You can now increase the time your dog interacts with them without a leash.

4. Patience is key! Dogs are very limited in their understanding of the world. It is going to take time for your dog to realize that the world is full of excitement and fun.

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Seeing You Makes Him Feel Guilty

There is also a possibility that he feels guilty about something he did. He may have done something which he knows you will be angry, and he is trying to avoid the consequences of his actions by standing behind you.

The signs of his guilt were evident in his body language, such as his lowered head, flattened ears, averting eye contact, and tucking his tail between his legs.

What you should do is to control your anger if you see any accidents happening in your house, such as peeing on the carpet, chewing on your sofa or making a mess in the house.

Clean up the mess and move on. Punishing or yelling at your dog will not improve his behavior.

As opposed to humans, dogs cannot understand why they are being scolded or punished if the correction is not given immediately.

In order to help your dog learn how to correct his behavior, you will need to make it clear to him while he is doing that act that the actions he is performing are undesirable. 

The use of positive reinforcement is essential when you are training your dog, because your dog will learn that he will be rewarded for doing what you want.  

Rewards (especially enticing treats) can be a great motivator for your dog to do what you ask him to do.

He Feels Shy in Front of Strangers

What does it say to you when your toddler hides behind you when he sees strangers in your home? It’s a sign of shyness or fear, right?

This can happen to your dog as well, which explains why he is hiding behind you when he is in a similar situation.

Feeling shy and not wanting to be noticed, he shies away from attention. 

It is common for a puppy to behave this way when he first encounters people. That behavior can also happen to small dogs as well. (Maybe they feel more vulnerable because of their smaller size?)

During the early stages of adopting a dog, you are likely to face this situation.

It might also be the personality of your little dog. 

Small breed dogs such as Chihuahuas, Maltese, Pugs, and Yorkshire Terriers are known for being yappy and fussy, but they are also known to be timid.

If you find your dog in this situation, it is best to start him on socialization training as soon as possible. 

Bring him out for a walk daily in the dog parks and let him interact with other dogs. Invite your friends to bring their dogs over so that your dog can meet their dogs.

By doing so, you will help him build his confidence and allow him to socialize more freely.

You can also take him to dog training classes or to a doggy daycare to practice socializing and interacting with other dogs.

Staying Close to You Without Disturbing You

Your dog loves to be with you at all times, but he knows that by being clingy to you, you will feel frustrated as he might be obstructing what you are trying to achieve for the day.

So what he can do is to quietly stand behind you so that he gets to see you and, at the same time, you are not disturbed by his presence.

It’s great to know your dog cares for you, however, clinginess could be an indication of separation anxiety

To determine if your dog has anxiety disorder, look for the following signs.

  • Excessive barking or howling when you are not at home.
  • Panting or pacing around. 
  • Shaking.
  • Curling up in a corner.
  • Burrowing.
  • Ruining stuff.
  • Excessive licking of floor.

You will need to work on his separation anxiety disorder and slowly build his confidence to be alone if he suffers from this disorder. 

You can do this by:

1. Providing your dog with a comfortable place to stay while you are away. Prepare a crate where he can retreat when he feels anxious. 

2. Make sure he has toys, food, and water while you are away.

3. If you’re going out of town, make sure someone is taking care of him. 

4. Making him understand that you will return whenever you are away and rewarding him when he behaves well when you are back home.

5. Do not leave your dog alone for more than 30 minutes at a time during the training phase, as an hour of your time is equivalent to 7 hours of your dog’s time. Once your dog is comfortable being alone in his crate, you can gradually increase the separation time.

6. Get him to be involved in his daily activities, such as solving puzzle games, playing with KONG toys to get a treat out of them and chewing on toys. By engaging in these activities, you’ll be able to divert his attention from you, keep him busy, and make him feel comfortable being alone.

He should understand that you will not always be there for him, so he should become accustomed to being alone.

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You’re Encouraging This Type of Behavior in Them

When you are not careful in guiding your dog towards what you expect, he can develop unwanted habits.

This is often the case when you have made him associate certain behavior as a rewarding experience and that will motivate him to keep repeating that act.

If your dog stayed faithfully behind you, did you smile and pet him repeatedly? Through this act, he could have learned that he can get something from you (your attention, love, and praise) if he’s there for you.

He will find the behavior rewarding and will repeat it in the future to enjoy the same rewards.

You must change his mind-set about this and teach him to associate the act of staying behind you with disappointment.

What you should do is to simply ignore him and make him feel that staying behind you is a waste of time.

And when he stops behaving in this way, go over to him and give him a treat.This will help to correct his behavior.

He Wants to Protect You from Harm

Dogs are naturally protective of their families and loved ones. Often, they will attempt to keep those who they deem dangerous from their loved ones.

And since you are his beloved family member, your dog will instinctively want to protect you.

It’s kind of like how you will protect your kid when he first starts helping you in the grocery store. You will secretly follow behind him just to make sure he doesn’t get lost in the supermarket.

This is exactly what your dog is doing for you!

By standing behind you, your dog is protecting you from harm and by barking he lets you know that something is wrong.

He Wants Your Warmth

This is more prominent during the winter months when the cold breeze starts blowing across the streets.

As you take your dog out for a walk, he is likely going to stand behind you (rather than leading the way, which he loves to do in summer) because he is feeling cold. By standing behind you, you are acting as a BIG shield to protect him from the cold.

Be on the lookout for behaviors like cold-shivering, fretting, whining, and slower pace. These are the signals that your dog is trying to tell you “I am freezing!”.

Make sure your dog has winter boots and a sweater when you take him for a walk in the winter. This is especially important if your dog belongs to a short-haired breed such as a Bull Terrier, Miniature Pinscher or Pug, as he will not have thick, long fur to protect him from the harsh effects of the cold.

Generally, unless the temperature dips below 45° F, dogs should not be affected by the cold. If the temperature dips below that point, cold-sensitive dogs will feel uncomfortable. 

If the temperature drops below 32° F, older or sick dogs, or those with thin fur, should be closely monitored. 

As soon as temperatures drop below 20° F, dogs could suffer from cold-related ailments such as hypothermia or frostbite.

Dogs that are small or have thin fur will start to feel uncomfortable at temperatures below 45° F. Limit walks for these dogs to only 15 minutes when temperatures drop below that threshold.

He Wants to Avoid You Petting Him (Because of Arthritis)

Your dog is probably having some discomfort such as joint pain or arthritis, and he wants to avoid any petting from you.

By hiding from your sight (hiding behind you, in one corner or in his crate), he is trying to tell you “Do not come near me!”.

If you find your dog suddenly dislikes any form of touch, it could be due to his physical discomfort.  

This is especially so if your dog is reaching his golden years (more than 12 years old) or if he had an injury recently.

You should take him to see a vet for further assessment.

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