Why Is My Dog So Clingy All of a Sudden? 10 Possible Reasons

Last Updated October 18, 2021 -
By Justin
Last Updated October 18, 2021 -

There's no better animal companion than dogs. Since the dawn of time, canines have been right by our side to offer protection, loyalty, and a sense of familial camaraderie. That said, dogs and humans have always respected each other's boundaries.

Despite having a fantastic relationship with your furry friend, they likely know when to spend time with you and when to do their own thing. Even dogs need some "me time!" While some dogs rely more on human interaction than others, most find a healthy balance between affection and independence.

As a result, sudden bouts of clinginess can be pretty alarming. 

clingy dog cuddles all the time

All of a sudden, you might find your dog constantly clamoring to grab your attention and stay by your side. Even if you have some extra love to share, this sudden attachment may seem out of character. That's especially true if your dog was the previous independent.

So, what gives?

There are many reasons why dogs can become clingy out of the blue. Some are innocent enough, while others indicate something heavier going on.

To help you get some insight into what's going on with your dog, here are some possible reasons for the sudden behavioral change and some potential solutions to address it.

10 Possible Reasons for Clingy Dog Behaviour

#1. -  Newfound Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety and clinginess seem to go hand in hand. However, these two issues are a little different from a behaviorist's perspective.

When a dog is clingy, they have to be by your side at all times! They might follow you to every room and constantly paw at your leg for attention. However, they typically don't react negatively to your absence.

On the other hand, dogs with separation anxiety will exhibit all kinds of unwanted behaviors the moment you leave the house!

Not only do they become stressed, but they often channel that energy in destructive ways. Symptoms of separation anxiety typically include chewing, crying, frequent accidents, and more.

While there is a separation between the two, overlap can occur. Feelings of anxiety can pop up out of nowhere when a dog has a negative experience while you're away.

They become so fearful of being alone that they go out of their way to stay by your side when you are around.

It might seem innocent enough at first, but separation anxiety can become a significant problem if left unchecked.

What You Can Do

There are many ways to deal with separation anxiety. Your best bet is to work with a trainer. You can also leave behind scent-infused clothing for comfort or mental stimulation toys as a distraction.

Many vets also recommend calming supplements to help them take things easy.

Stopping separation anxiety is an ongoing effort. There's no quick fix, but it's something you can alleviate with some vigilance.

Also read: 22 Tips to Prevent Issues When you Leave a Puppy at Home Alone

#2. -  Physical Pain or Illness

Remember how you used to go to your parents when you felt unwell as a child? Well, dogs do the same thing.

They want to be near someone they love for support.

In some cases, the issue might be something as simple as stomach discomfort. However, more severe ailments could cause clinginess, too.

Epileptic dogs often become extra clingy whenever they feel an episode coming on. The same goes for canines that are suffering from joint or muscle pain.

Whatever the case may be, please don't ignore it! Take this behavior as a cry for help.

What You Can Do

If your dog is dealing with a known chronic health issue, keep an eye on them. Provide all the love and support they need, but be ready to take action if something occurs.

Ongoing problems like arthritis are challenging to address at the moment, but you can always do your best to make things more comfortable for your dog.

For unknown health issues, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Hidden conditions can snowball very quickly.

If your dog is becoming clingy due to pain, go to a vet for treatment and diagnosis. They may be able to get to the bottom of the issue and provide relief.

#3 - . Unexpected Strangers

Sometimes, clinginess is all about the "stranger danger" mentality.

New faces can be alarming for some canines. How dogs respond to strangers ultimately depends on how they grow up. Socialization is critical for young dogs.

They need to see as many new faces as possible to diminish fear as an adult.

Unfortunately, that exposure is not always possible with rescue dogs or those who lived in a one-person home most of their lives.

Related: Dog All of a Sudden Scared & Nervous of Something In House

What You Can Do

If your dog doesn't respond well to visits from strangers, you'll need to take steps to make them more comfortable.

Consider going to a trainer or behaviorist. They can provide the training and socialization your dog needs. Of course, you'll have to be proactive about facilitating change, too.

Treat new faces as something fun and exciting! Provide rewards and praise your pup for new behavior.

In the meantime, make sure that you give your dog plenty of space to escape the overwhelming experience of new visitors. Put them away in a separate room or provide separation with dog gates.

It'll take some time to overcome stranger anxieties, so you must protect your dog and your visitors in the meantime.

Clingy puppy

#4. - Routine Changes

Did you recently move? If so, your dog might be going through a rough time adjusting.

Dogs are creatures of routine. They thrive best when they know what to expect every day. A sudden change in how they live can be a little overwhelming, resulting in sudden clinginess.

It's not just a new environment that'll create this change.

You might notice it if you get a new job and have to alter your daily schedule. For some pups, even an hour difference in their usual potty breaks can be too much to handle!

What You Can Do

Whenever possible, ease into changes slowly. Get your dog comfortable with the transition before diving headfirst and expecting them to adjust.

If you're moving to a new place, let them spend some time there. Bring them to your new property so that they get a chance to sniff around and get comfortable.

The same thing goes for schedule differences. Take a few days to ease into it to ensure that it doesn't feel sudden and out of place.

Also read: How to Set up a Daily Schedule / Routine for New Puppies

#5. - Changing Family Dynamics

In your dog's eyes, your family is like a pack. When that familiar social structure changes out of the blue, they can become overwhelmed and clingy.

Owners see this all of the time when new members come into the mix.

Whether it's a new human baby or a brand-new puppy, the changing dynamics take some adjustment. In the meantime, don't be surprised if your dog starts showing signs of extreme clinginess. 

They don't know what's happening and are constantly looking at this new addition with some suspicion. Unfortunately, the same type of behavior can happen with losses, too. 

When humans or other dogs die, your furry friend can exhibit some sadness and confusion. They'll turn to you for guidance and support as they get used to the change.

What You Can Do

For new additions to the family, plan a safe and supervised meeting. Let your dog meet the newest member of the pack. They'll want to sniff around and take a close look.

Always keep an eye on your dog during this process. Dogs can react unexpectedly, so you need to ensure that you're in a controlled environment where you can respond quickly.

Start with short meeting sessions and slowly work your way to longer social sessions. It shouldn't take long for your dog to adjust and start viewing the new addition as a member of the pack.

Dealing with losses is a little more challenging. There's no way to fill the void of a pet or human dying.

The best thing you can do here is to provide support and try to move on. It may take some time, but keep things positive and stick to the same routine you did before.

Related: 6 Ways to Remember a Beloved Dog Who has Passed

#6. - Clingy Due to Boredom

Leaving your dog at home all day with nothing to do is a recipe for disaster.

Not only do you increase the chances of separation anxiety occurring, but your pup could also turn to clinginess to address their feelings.

A dull and tedious daily routine doesn't leave much joy in your pup's life. So, they'll turn to you for some fun! They could end up mimicking your schedule to have some new experiences.

What You Can Do

There are many ways to infuse some fun back into your dog's life!

We understand that work schedules and life commitments prevent you from being around your dog 24 hours a day. But, you can fill the void with some distractions.

Consider investing in mental stimulation toys like PupPod or slow feeders. Those accessories can keep your pup occupied for hours on end.

When you are home, make the most out of your time together! Go for a long walk or have an intense play session. Wear your pup out so that they feel fulfilled enough to find solace alone.

#7. - Labor Pains

Have a pregnant pup?

Don't be surprised if they turn to you for emotional support as labor nears. Female dogs become emotionally sensitive during this time. 

They know what they have to do, but many get a bit scared as the big day approaches. Pair that with all the hormones flowing inside, and you have the makings of a super clingy dog!

What You Can Do

Just like a pregnant human family member, be by your dog's side. Metaphorically hold their hand and provide support through this tough time.

If possible, take some time off work until the puppies are born. Giving birth isn't easy, and your dog wants you there. If that's not possible, do your best to have someone with your dog.

It could be another family member or even a vet. As long as they're not alone, your pregnant pooch will be much happier.

#8. - Females in Heat

Clinginess can occur long before your dog gets pregnant, too. Female dogs tend to exhibit this behavior whenever they go into heat. Hormonal changes wreak havoc on your dog's emotions.

They'll stop at nothing to be by your side to seek support.

In most cases, clinginess will be one of many symptoms. You'll notice vaginal bleeding, general nervousness, and odd physical behaviors. Some will also show bouts of aggression to other dogs.

What You Can Do

There's no solution here but to be there for your dog. It's an emotional time, but it's temporary. Female dogs usually go into heat two or three times a year. In each instance,

it's usually only two weeks long at most. While heat cycles do reoccur, they're pretty manageable for most.

If you want to stop the heat cycles altogether, you can always talk to your vet about spaying. Spaying addresses all kinds of issues and can do a lot to control the pet population.

Also read: Calming Down a Female Dog in Heat

#9. - Human Pregnancy

Did you know that dogs can detect hormonal changes in humans? It's a strange quirk that can lead to all kinds of behaviors.

Women who get pregnant sometimes report extreme clinginess in their dogs. The behavior is a direct response to the rapidly changing hormones.

Your dog knows that something is going on. They might not understand that a human baby is coming, but they know that you need protection.

So, they stay by your side to offer protection at all costs. It's a cute and endearing act that will only make you love your dog more!

What You Can Do

Fortunately, clinginess in this situation is temporary. Your dog will likely return to normal after giving birth.

If you need some space now, consider investing in dog gates..

#10. - Clingy Due to Canine Dementia

No one wants to watch their dog get older, but it's unavoidable. Unfortunately, many dogs suffer from health issues that affect their well-being and personality.

One such condition is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, also known as CCDS.

CCDS is often compared to dementia or Alzheimer's Disease in humans. It affects your dog's cognitive abilities. They become forgetful and confused, which may result in frequent accidents and bouts of anxiety.

It's perfectly reasonable to expect clinginess here. 

Your dog is experiencing a mental decline that affects every part of its life. It's a scary time for them, so they'll seek out loved ones for support.

What You Can Do

Watching your dog suffer from CCDS can be heartbreaking. We wish we could say there was a cure to the disease.

However, it's just as complex and misunderstood as its human equivalents. There's not much you can do to address the mental decline itself.

That said, you should always consult with your vet for guidance. They may prescribe calming medications or give you tips on how to stimulate your dog's mind.

At home, keep the furniture layout the same and stick to a familiar routine. The goal is to make things as easy as possible.

Avoid overwhelming them, and provide all the love you can along the way!

Conclusion

Sudden clinginess can be a strange change of pace for you and your dog. While you should undoubtedly provide attention and love whenever your pup needs it, addressing the potential causes for clinginess is important, too.

You never know what your dog is going through, and the sudden attachment could be a cry for help. Keep an eye on their behavior and work with your vet to tackle whatever is affecting your dog.

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