What Causes Dogs to Become Clingy?

Don't confuse clingy with seeking attention or instigating play.
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One of the reasons we love our pooches is because they give us unconditional companionship, but even the most loyal dogs should be able to handle being on their own for a short while. Being clingy in a dog is never a good sign, especially if it is a new thing. Before you can help your dog get over his clingy behavior, it is essential to understand the reasons for it.

Separation Anxiety

Some dogs just hate being left alone and separation anxiety is the state of panic they enter when they think you are about to leave. You may not notice it, but you give your dog lots of indications that you are about to leave a long time before you actually do. Drawing the curtains, packing your bag and grabbing your keys are all things that your dog will learn to associate with separation. A dog that is anxious about being separated from his owner will become clingy as soon as he suspects he is about to be left alone. The best way to tackle separation anxiety is to expose your dog gradually to brief periods of isolation and to ignore his acting up.


If you have got a normally independent, confident dog that becomes clingy, the first thing to consider is whether there is any obvious source of anxiety. For example, fireworks can spook a dog, causing him to stick like glue to his owner’s side for reassurance. If you have spotted an obvious cause of stress, such as outside noise, observe your dog for other signs of fear. For example, he may be pacing, trembling or even attempting to hide. The best approach here is to act like a natural, calm leader. Once your dog sees that you re not concerned about the noise, he will be reassured.


If your dog is going blind, deaf or is suffering from age-related mental problems, he may become clingy as a coping mechanism. That bullish, independent beast you used to have trouble controlling is now a little less confident and needs to be by your side a little more. Being clingy may be the first sign that your dog has dependency issues linked to his sight, hearing or mental capacity. If he is bumping into things more, not responding to commands or appears confused, take him to the vet for a checkup. If your vet confirms that he’s got a medical problem, he or she will advise on how best to accommodate his needs.


When a dog feels sick, it can be confusing for them. It also can be a little distressing and may cause them to be clingy. In epileptic dogs for example, clingy behavior is often one of the first indicators of an impending seizure. If your dog suffers from seizures and you notice him being clingy, nervous or restless, keep a close eye on him and be prepared to offer appropriate care, as directed by your veterinarian, should he have a seizure.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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