How to Train a Dog Not to Be So Clingy

Certain habits may encourage clinginess.

Certain habits may encourage clinginess.

Clinginess is a sign of separation anxiety. If you allow or inadvertently encourage your dog to be clingy, you could end up with a “Velcro dog.” This is a dog who is so reliant on your company that he can’t cope alone. Fix this by making periods of isolation rewarding.

Discouraging Clinginess

Monitor your dog’s behavior and note down when he is at his most clingy. It may be that the problem is worse just before you leave for work, just after you get home or only in the presence of other dogs.

Expose your dog to separation anxiety triggers. For example, if he is clingiest before you leave the house, put on your coat and grab your keys, but don’t leave. This behavior shows the dog that those triggers aren’t necessarily a precursor to periods of separation.

Ignore the dog when he is being clingy. Make being at your side boring and non-stimulating. If you’ve previously responded to needy, attention-seeking behavior with attention or fuss, you may have accidentally trained your dog to be clingy. By ignoring the dog, you show him that his clinginess doesn’t get a positive outcome.

Reward the dog for voluntarily separating himself. Leave distractions such as toys and treats around the house and wait for your dog to spot them. This tells the dog that his environment is most stimulating when he leaves your side.

Encouraging Isolation

Leave the crate door open and place a treat and some toys inside. Allow him to investigate at his own pace and make the crate a place where he wants to be.

Praise the dog verbally once inside the crate. Leave the door open and allow him to exit the crate when he wishes.

Repeat exposure to the crate. Once your dog is comfortable in the crate or in the basket and has built a positive association with it, close the door for five minutes, but don’t leave.

Shut the dog in the crate or room for five minutes every day for a week. Each time you shut him in, move further away from the crate, but remain in sight.

Shut the dog in the crate and leave the area. Return after five minutes and allow your dog out, but don’t be overly fussy. This demonstrates that periods of isolation are normal and they always end up with him being reconnected with you.

Items you will need

  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Crate

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About the Author

Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for

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