Does your Shetland Sheepdog follow you everywhere? To the bathroom, to the kitchen, to the yard, to work…… Ok well maybe not to work, but they may be a bit upset when you have to leave them to go somewhere.
I was a little surprised to hear how much owners were talking about their Sheltie being a velcro dog. That is a dog that is stuck to their side following them everywhere they go!
If you have ever wondered if this happens to other Sheltie owners or wondered if you should be concerned, you are not alone!
Shetland Sheepdogs desire companionship and attention. They will follow their owners because of the affection and love they receive. Playing, cuddling, giving treats or other forms of affection reinforce this following behavior. Extreme clingy behavior may be a sign of separation anxiety.
For the most part, it’s quite endearing to have your loyal friend following you around everywhere, as a kid I loved it, but there are times that it can go too far and turn into a problem such as separation anxiety.
If it seems that your Sheltie needs to follow you everywhere this can be a sign of underlying anxiety or a lack of confidence. Let’s explore more about the reasons why your dog is following you everywhere.
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Reasons why your Sheltie follows you everywhere
1. Reinforced bond
Puppies are very impressionable they are learning and growing from the moment they take their first breath. In their early weeks of life, they look to their mothers for protection and care.
It’s important that Sheltie puppies don’t leave their mothers before 8 weeks old and it’s often much better if they stay with them even longer. Bringing them home around 12 weeks is ideal.
The first weeks of your Sheltie’s life with its mother and littermates are critical in teaching your puppy important skills it needs throughout its life, including the confidence to be a member of a pack.
It’s likely that if you brought your puppy home before 12 weeks old she most likely imprinted on you, seeing you as a mother figure.
Puppies who imprint on you will follow you everywhere in order to learn and grow from you and because you offer protection and guidance in new situations.
This first training reinforces a bond between you and your dog. Partly because you are giving them praise and rewards which they thrive on, and partly because you are helping to teach them and instill confidence in them that they can learn new things and understand and communicate with you.
2. They want attention and companionship
Shetland Sheepdogs are instinctively pack animals, but their genes and characteristics have also been bred to be the great companions they are today! They thrive on and desire companionship, whether that be from you or another dog they will follow you to get it.
Speaking of breeding and evolution, through hundreds of years of history, dogs have always had the instinct to follow a pack leader. This natural instinct helps them seek protection and safety from large predators.
Now that they are domesticated. You and your family are their pack and so it is often instinctual for them to want to follow you everywhere.
4. Sleeping in your bed
If you have made it a habit to let your Sheltie sleep in your bed with you there then you may have an even deeper and more reinforced bond than most.
To be honest who can resist cuddling at night and in the morning with our adorable little pups? Most Sheltie owners I talk to openly admit that their pooch sleeps with them.
Complete Shetland Sheepdog Sleeping Guide (Patterns, Problems, Questions)
There are scientific studies, and research that show when you spend time snuggling and cuddling with your dog you receive a whole list of benefits most notable is the release of the love hormone Oxytocin (link goes to medical news article). This contributes to a lowering of stress hormones, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of happiness.
It’s also very effective in helping to create a trusting bond between you and your Sheltie.
Your Shetland has an instinctual desire to sleep in a ‘den’ a place where they feel the safest and most relaxed. If they’ve made that den next to you in your bed, then they may crave those feelings of closeness and safety throughout the day.
This can be a huge contributing factor in why they are so clingy.
Boredom in a Sheltie can be very dangerous. I say this because they are such smart dogs that when they are bored they can come up with all sorts of trouble to get into.
Their main purpose in life was to move and herd livestock they have the instinct to do this and if left unfulfilled they may try to move or herd you!
If your Sheltie is following you because he is bored count yourself lucky that he’s doing that and not something else more annoying or destructive such as eating strange things like poop, sticks, rocks, or dirt.
Shelties are hard workers this is why many ranchers choose this dog breed to help them out on their ranch or farm. They are also very quick to train and pick up new skills.
A combination of this along with their high level of energy and need for exercise can cause your Sheltie to get bored easily.
Trying out a fun training program together like this widely popular program Brain Training for Dogs can help unlock your dog’s hidden potential and help them learn how to avoid problem behaviors.
If you have a strong bond with your Sheltie and you are usually the one to provide your dog with learning and training opportunities he may be following you because he’s looking for you to entertain him with something new to do.
5. They are nervous or afraid
Shelties can be very confident and well-rounded dogs if trained and socialized properly in their early years.
A lot of how they act is also engrained in their personalities as well. Because Shelties are so loyal and sometimes protective of their owners this can cause them to be a bit more skittish or afraid of things than other breeds.
They really need to be taught at a young age to be confident in all situations. This means introducing them to lots of people, animals, sights, and sounds in their first year of life.
If they don’t develop that confidence they can become timid and shy and want to follow you around as a way to feel more secure or in an effort to protect you from real or perceived threats.
If your Sheltie is a rescue and comes from a background of abuse or neglect it may have an even stronger attachment to you than most. Their trust may be hard to gain, but once you do they are yours forever.
They may still be very sure of the world around them and follow you for guidance and protection.
Some dogs who are nervous will lick a lot. Licking releases endorphins that help to calm them.
6. Daily routine
When you bring a new puppy into your life one of the best things you can do is create a routine. This helps with house training, feeding schedules, behavior training, and so much more.
Puppies require a lot of time and attention and often can’t be left alone for very long periods of time. After getting into a set routine your dog will expect more of the same. If you haven’t slowly worked in some time for your Sheltie to play, sleep, or rest on their own then they will not be used to that. They will want to stick to the routine of being with you all the time.
7. Trying to tell you something / unmet needs
Is your Sheltie following you around while also giving you the puppy dog eyes perhaps with a whimper or two? If that is the case then they are trying to communicate with you or tell you that they need or want something.
They may need to go out for a bathroom break. Maybe they want to play or are asking you to feed them.
They may be begging you to share your food or snack with them.
Sometimes it just takes figuring out what they are trying to tell you, so you can fulfill their needs, and then they will calm down and rest without bothering you any further.
Are Shelties usually clingy?
Shelties naturally want to be involved in all you are doing and the things that are going on around them. They are loyal and loving and desire to be around or cling to you whenever possible. Since they are very active and desire to please you they will cling to you as they try and please you.
Should I be worried about my Sheltie following me everywhere?
Most owners tend to find it quite endearing when their dog follows them around all day. It can bring us great comfort and peace knowing that we have the unconditional love of this beautiful animal.
For people who live alone, have depression or anxiety, having a Sheltie as a companion can truly be comforting and can even help to improve their health conditions.
Having your Sheltie follow you around all day only becomes a problem when it interferes with you, or your dog’s quality of life.
If your dog cries excessively, barks, shakes, paces, or destroys things whenever they are not with you, or if you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious about your dog following your every move then you should work towards lessening the behavior.
It’s not uncommon for dogs to attach to one person in the household and might be only following that 1 person around. If this has happened to you and your Sheltie goes as far as even growling at others when they come close to you, it could be that your Sheltie is showing signs of jealousy.
Separation anxiety can also be a concern when your Sheltie is following you around relentlessly. If when you leave your Sheltie is physically distraught and showing signs like howling, barking, panting, pacing, urinating, defecating, or excessive chewing and destroying things and takes more than 5-10 minutes to calm down then your dog probably does have separation anxiety.
If you feel your Shetland Sheepdog might be having separation anxiety, read this article next!
While we strive to give the most accurate and helpful information about your pet’s health that we can, this article is meant to be informational only and not medical advice. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified veterinary health care provider regardless of what you have read on this site or elsewhere.