What is a ‘Velcro Dog’ and How to Stop Clingy Behavior
It’s a fact: Dogs love being around their humans. You can’t blame them. Humans provide attention, comfort, shelter, and food. At the same time, dogs (and other pets too) provide us comfort, warmth, companionship, and entertainment. While this partnership typically works — it is, after all, why humans domesticated dogs and cats in the first place — there are times when a dog’s attention can feel clingy. That’s a Velcro dog — one that never leaves your side. Some experts refer to the phenomenon of a clingy dog as “Velcro dog syndrome.”
If your pet belongs to one of the many Velcro dog breeds, you’ve got yourself a clinger. Truth is, though, you might be at fault for your pet’s clinginess by having doted on your pet too much.
What are the clingy dog breeds? What to do if your dog is clingy and whiny? BarxBuddy has the inside scoop on the Velcro dog syndrome.
What is a Velcro Dog?
A Velcro dog is one that is continuously beside you. He keeps an eye on you and follows you everywhere you go — even to the bathroom! Velcro dogs can anticipate your next move, ensuring they’re always right next to you.
Don’t confuse Velcro dog syndrome with separation anxiety, where a dog suffers a panic state when its owner is gone. While any dog can have separation anxiety and be a Velcro dog, not all Velcro dogs suffer from separation anxiety.
What Causes Clingy Dogs?
Chances are you created your Velcro dog. Yep, all those snuggles, sleeping in the same bed, offering treats for every little thing your dog does could have backfired on you. Now you’re faced with a pet that NEVER leaves your side. Don’t misunderstand: Positive reinforcement is the best method for training dogs. However, your dog must also learn there are boundaries, and as the leader in the relationship, it’s up to you to set them.
A dog can be quite clingy if they have experienced abandonment in their past. Some bored dogs follow their humans around. And, aging dogs that develop hearing or vision impairments can become clingy as well. Illness can cause a dog to suddenly be extra clingy, as can a change in their environment, like a new home. On the other hand, some dogs are bred to be clingers.
Velcro Dog Breeds
Sometimes breeding is to blame for a Velcro dog. Certain breeds are very dependent on their humans; this includes lap dogs, herding dogs, and working dogs. Here is a list of clingy dog breeds, or breeds with reputations of being Velcro dog breeds:
- French bulldog
- Labrador retriever
- Golden retriever
- Cardigan Welsh corgi
- Australian shepherd
- Shetland sheepdog
- Doberman pinscher
- Pembroke Welsh corgi
- Italian greyhound
- Alaskan malamute
- Siberian husky
- Portuguese water dog
- Schnauzer (standard and giant)
How to Deal With a Velcro Dog?
Of course, the decision of whether to change your dog’s behavior is up to you. Maybe you enjoy being attached to your dog 24/7, but if you want your dog to be comfortable enough to leave your side and come for snuggles when you’re ready, there are things you can do to reduce your dog’s clinginess.
If your Velcro dog is still a puppy, set boundaries. Be consistent and be patient. Use positive reinforcement and treats when your dog follows your verbal command and make sure your pet sleeps in his bed every night.
Desensitize your dog
When your dog has Velcro dog syndrome, it can help if you desensitize your dog to your movements. If your dog is triggered by your actions like getting up off the couch, it’s time to teach him it’s okay if you move and he doesn’t. Practice getting up and down off the sofa without leaving the area. Over time, he’ll learn that he doesn’t have to jump up every time you move.
Teach your dog the sit/stay command
Teaching your dog the stay command can go along way in reducing a dog’s clinginess. Start with a short distance between the two of you and gradually move further away. After giving the verbal command, “stay,” offer praise (and treat if you like) only if he doesn’t come after you. Continue to practice and positively reinforce your dog for correct behaviors to ensure your he or she repeats the behavior.
Gamify dog training
Play games that require distance between you and your Velcro dog. Think fetch, hide and seek, or nose work games — anything to get your dog to focus on fun while not being glued to you.
Exercise your pup
Increase the amount of physical activity and mental stimulation your dog gets every day. If your dog has enough energy to follow you here and there, he could benefit from additional physical activity and mental stimulation. Take your dog for an extra walk each day, play ball, give him puzzle toys or chew toys to burn off his excess energy. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog; meaning, when he’s truly worn out, your dog is less likely to care about what you’re doing or where you’re going.
‘Go to your place’
Train your dog to go to “his” place, whether that is a spot on the couch, a mat or blanket on the floor, or his dog bed. Teach your dog that it’s okay to have distance between you. When you need your dog to go to “his” place, give a verbal command; for example, “Go to your mat.” Offer praise and a treat when he follows your direction. As an incentive, be sure that a few healthy treats or your dog’s favorite toys are in the area.
We love having our dogs nearby; they are after all only here for a short time. However, having a Velcro dog can be overwhelming. With practice, patience, and consistency you can reduce your dog’s clinginess and still enjoy snuggles on your own terms.