The following guide was written by a female friend of ours who has seen some strange behavior recently from her dog. It seems to follow her about everywhere, but not her husband. If you’ve experienced the same, read on as she gets the answer to why it happens.
Why does my dog only follow me and not my husband?
Dogs follow just one person in a relationship for a number of reasons including thinking you’re the pack leader, companionship, expecting treats and rewards, comfort, and learned behaviors.
Don’t get me wrong, I love having my dog always beside me at home. However, it can get a bit much to be stalked around the house so much, particularly as my dog only follows me about and never my husband!
My dog thinks I am the leader of the pack in my house. I also give my dog more treats than my husband and, therefore, he follows me about in anticipation for more.
A brief story about my family and dog
My husband and I are newlywed. We’re roughly a year and a half now into our marriage and live together with our dog. It’s just the three of us in our two-bedroom apartment. Before that we lived separately during our dating period
I moved in when we got engaged and we got our dog as a puppy. Almost from day 1, he seemed more attached to me than my future husband.
I’ve done some research into why this happens, and have found the following reasons why I my dog follows me more than my husband including:
1. My dog has imprinted on me
Immediately after our honeymoon, my husband had to travel to Europe for a few months. His absence meant it was just me and the dog left in the apartment.
According to a research by May Burch, PhD, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviourist and the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Director that was posted on Petmd.com,
“Apart from imprinting on dogs, puppies can imprint on people as well and the imprinting period for puppies is between three and 12 weeks old.”
What is often called “imprinting behaviour” in dogs generally means bonding and Billy has come to regard me and me alone as his source of everything.
2. Separation anxiety
In terms of daily life, my husband tends to work from home while I go to the hospital since I am a health practitioner and cannot work from home. Occasionally our dog has separation anxiety for me and this I believe, makes him cling more to me.
He whines and cries when I am about to leave the house. Also, my husband always narrates to me whenever I return from work on how it always
- Frequently urinates and defecates (even pees on my clothes)
- Chews on the exit door and window seal
- Attempts to escape and flee from the home and
- Paces around incessantly.
All these are signs of separation anxiety, with the biggest one being our dog follows me about, and not my husband.
3. Positive reinforcement
My dog follows me all the time rather than my partner because our bond has been paired with a great deal of positive reinforcement. He knows that good things such as his food, pats and fun activities like walks, come mostly from me.
As a result, my dog will follow me everywhere in anticipation of these goodies.
4. Exhibiting his trait
Our dog is a Norfolk Terrier and as companions, they love people and children and do make good pets. They are not usually kept or allowed to live outside since they thrive more on human contact.
This breed, just like most other breeds that have been bred for centuries to work with people, resultantly become Velcro dogs and follow their owners around and want to be by their side at all times.
Often called clingy, Velcro dogs have a desire to be close to their owners… so it stands to reason he will follow me all over place instead of other people.
Perhaps the most obvious reason, my dog likes my companionship, just like a child to the mother. Laurie Santos, PhD, a professor of psychology and director of the Canine Cognition Centre at Yale University says:
“Over the process of domestication, natural selection has shaped dogs to become companions for humans. Domesticated dogs are now ‘bonded’ with humans in some of the same ways as human children. In this sense, our bond with dogs is one that has evolved over the course of domestications.”
5. You are the leader of the pack
It’s weird when you look at it from the point of the traditional gender roles, but in our home, I’m usually in charge of what goes on while my husband just basically follows through.
No disrespect whatsoever to my husband, though.
Dogs are pack animals by nature and tend to follow the leader of the pack, and I think this is what my dog is doing by following me and not my husband. It’s just a fact that I appear to be my dog’s favorite person.
As much I like having my dog beside me at times, I also want to be in the arms of my husband cuddling and doing couple things. With the dog stalking and putting his nose in, our moods always immediately dampen preventing us from being physical because to me, it is weird making out knowing that I’m being watched – even if the onlooker is a dog.
Also, going to bed hasn’t been easy because my dog will always want to lie on the same bed with me. She will even try to sleep on top of me, sometimes my head! When I take it away to its bed at the hallway, it whines and growls at our bedroom door.
These sounds disturb us while being intimate and during intercourse. Also, it prevents us from having a good night rest.
6. Hostile behavior
This doesn’t apply to me but can do in abusive relationships. For example, if a dog sees a husband raising his voice, or even worse towards the wife, it can lead to protective behavior.
You see it with dogs who get all protective over new babiesin the home too.
How has this affected our wife and husband relationship?
I think what my dog is doing to me in human terms is called “stalking”, and we all know how creepy and disturbing that is. The dog is very obsessed with me, and its unending demand for my attention wears me out most times – as much as it’s cute a lot of the time too!
If you have ever experienced a dog following you all the time instead of your husband, you would likely either have found it incredibly endearing or you would have been tired of almost tripping over him all the time.
How can this be corrected?
Well, I didn’t foresee this behavior of my dog earlier when it was still a puppy and the action could have easily been averted. More so, howling over it now would be of no good and counter-productive.
Therefore, I have taken steps to ensure that our dog enjoys spending time with my husband and any future cohabitant of the house – have I told you that I’m expecting a baby? Also, that it is confident and comfortable being by itself too.
Firstly, I started by teaching it to be comfortable staying behind whenever I leave where it is. To achieve this, I found a focal point for it to wait on – its bed. I usually put it on its focal point and take a step away, then come back and reward it.
Secondly, I have asked my husband to be the sole carer of our dog. For now, he alone feeds, bathes and attends to all Billy’s needs.
Whenever anyone gets a new dog, they focus mostly on training it to obey basic commands but often overlook training the dog to be independent and okay when left alone. Proactive training to avoid separation anxiety is always the best choice when possible.
My current corrective measures are quite productive, and there seems to be a slight decrease in its clinginess towards me – he actually followed my husband last week!
However, I hope to seek the service of a veterinarian or dog behaviourist if my desired result is not attained.
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