Why Is My Dog So Clingy All Of A Sudden?

Why Is My Dog So Clingy All Of A Sudden?

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Our dogs love being near us when we have food or snacks. Feeding time can cause them to stay close to us if they think we will share. But when our dogs become suddenly clingy for no apparent reason, it can make us concerned.

We want our dogs to be independent and not need us 24/7. Of course, we don’t want our dogs to ignore us but being super clingy isn’t much better. 

So when your dog becomes clingy all of a sudden, what could it mean?

If your dog suddenly starts showing signs of clinginess toward you, it could be due to household changes, environmental changes, or disruptions to their routine. It could also be boredom, feeling threatened, fear from loud noises, they are in heat or about to give birth, you are menstruating or pregnant, age-related complications or sickness. 

With all of these reasons to consider, it is best that we dive a little deeper to make sense of them all.

Read along to discover why your dog may become clingy all of a sudden and how to change the behavior.

Reason 1: There Is A Change In The Household

As much as we want everything to stay the same forever, that is not reality. The world changes from day to day, similar to our household.

Sometimes there are permanent changes in your household, such as a death in the family. Death is something that often happens suddenly, and your dog certainly notices. Whether it is the death of a human or a pet, your dog will be aware of their absence, and they will mourn the loss. 

Not everyone agrees on this, but many experts believe that dogs mourn the loss of loved ones

When a dog mourns, they may express it in many ways. One of the ways they show their grief is by becoming clingy to you suddenly after the loss. Many dogs became clingy with their owners after a pet in the household died, according to this study

Death isn’t the only change that can happen in your household. You may get a new job or go to school, you become less available around the house, and your dog notices! When you come home, they may be apprehensive about leaving your side.

When you spend much of your time with your dog, then make a drastic change where you must leave them for multiple hours each day, your dog may develop separation anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety become clingy when the owner returns. They may also show a variety of other strange behaviors like scratching carpets, walls, or just staying close to your side.

Divorce is also a household change that may affect your dog. When a couple divorces, one partner may move out. If the dog stays in the household, they will be alert to the change of the absent partner. 

Anytime someone in the house leaves, whether it’s a death, a new job, or a divorce, your dog may cling to you as a result. 

Changes in our households are not always related to the absence of a person or pet. An addition to the house can also cause sudden clinginess!

Welcoming a new baby, pet, or partner are changes in the household that may cause your dog to become clingy all of a sudden. Some people assume the behavior is jealousy, but it’s actually them trying to keep your attention on them!

New people or pets create new smells, sounds, and sights for your dog. Their senses become overloaded with fresh data that they must process to understand. This may cause them to stick by your side until they feel that these new smells and visuals are trustworthy.

How To Change The Behavior

If your dog is mourning due to a loss, it may help to introduce them to someone new. If they lost a furry companion, bring in a new pet to help them or spend more time at the dog park. This may also help if they lost a human friend, giving them another companion can help them with their grief.

This can also help if you are needed outside of the household due to school or work. Since you will be around less, having a new furry friend at home with your dog can give them companionship.

If the reason for their clinginess is because of an addition to the household, it may be as simple as allowing your dog to get to know their new housemates!

Introduce all new friends at your dog’s pace and never force them to interact with new people or animals. Give them time to adjust and soon they will accept their new friends.

Reason 2: They Have Been Removed From Their Environment

Environmental changes can also cause your dog to cling to you!

Have you ever moved with your dog and noticed that they watch your every move as you navigate your new surroundings?

When you move into a new house or apartment, your dog will have to learn and adapt to the new location, too! They will have to figure out where their new feeding area is, where to play, and where to sleep. 

All of this can overwhelm your dog, and they may look to you for guidance. This may manifest as them being clingy toward you.

But don’t worry, once your furry friend becomes used to the new location, they will become more independent!

How To Change The Behavior

When your dog needs help when moving into a new place, it can help to bring some of their old bedding or toys to the new home. The smells from their items will let them know that this place is familiar. Use positive reinforcement to help ease your dog into their new home. 

Always give your dog time to adjust to new surroundings, and don’t be too alarmed when they cling to you until they are comfortable. Use this time to deepen your bond, and once they are confident with their new surroundings, they will find ways to occupy themselves.

Reason 3: There Is A Change In Their Routine

If you break your leg and can’t take your dog on their morning walk, this is a major change in your dog’s daily routine.

Switched feeding times, delayed playtime, or canceled play dates can all cause clinginess in your dog. These are all changes to their normal routines. 

Dogs are mammals, and all mammals need some form of structure! In fact, most animals need some kind of structure.

When there is structure, your dogs like it! Structure helps them anticipate what is next. When a dog is not able to continue their routine, it breaks their structure and they may cling to you. 

How To Change The Behavior 

If a change in routine is the root of their clingy behavior, try creating a new routine that your dog can enjoy! 

Try to keep the new routine similar to their old routine. But, if that is not possible, create a new routine and give them time to adjust. They will adapt to the new routine, and most likely stop being clingy once their new routine becomes established and they know what to expect!

Reason 4: They Are Bored

Did you know that dogs get bored? When a dog is under-stimulated they can become bored, or possibly depressed. If you once provided stimulation to your dog, but for some reason, life got in the way, they may start to cling to you all of a sudden. 

Dogs were originally bred to complete tasks and had jobs to complete. But now we provide our dogs with everything they need! We don’t make them do what was originally embedded into them. 

With 24 hours in a day and no tasks to complete, that is a lot of time to get bored! Boredom can take on a lot of forms from strange behavior like rolling in their food to suddenly following you around for some extra stimulation. 

How To Change The Behavior

First, make sure you know the signs of a bored dog and this video does a great job showing you what to look for:

If your pup is bored and clinging to you because of it, buy them toys such as puzzles or games. Puzzles, games, and toys help keep them busy and alleviate boredom. They provide mental stimulation which can help wear them out.

Even dogs that don’t love toys can be entertained if you’re willing to get a little creative.

Be sure you are also focusing on physical stimulation. Provide them with enough daily exercises, and allow them to run and play regularly. Exercise and playtime help wear your dog out, giving you a dog that will be less clingy, because they will be too busy taking a nap!

Reason 5: They Are Reacting To Outsiders

When my 8-month-old pit sees anyone that is not my husband or me, she instantly runs to me. It doesn’t matter if I am standing or sitting, she will push her way between my feet and cling to me.

Normally she isn’t a clingy dog, but in the presence of strangers, she becomes my shadow! Especially when it’s someone delivering food! 

When a dog reacts to someone unfamiliar, they will cling to you. Their reaction is due to their under-socialization to this person. They become stressed and cling to you suddenly. 

How To Change The Behavior

If your pup begins being clingy because they feel threatened by someone, this is a behavior that may or may not be a bad thing. If the person is an actual threat, you may want your dog to cling to you as it is an alert to you that there could be a dangerous situation.

But, if the person comes to your house and you know and trust them, it may help to introduce your dog to them. Allow them to naturally create a bond, by letting your dog watch the two of you interact and let your dog explore them. Each time they come to your house, your dog will feel less threatened by them.

Don’t punish your dog or yell at them when they cling to you for this behavior. Causing more stress or fear won’t help change the behavior, always be patient and calm when helping your dog overcome their clinginess due to their fear of outsiders.

Reason 6: They Hear A Loud Noise (Or Even A Noise You Can’t Hear)

I used to have a dog when I was young that hated thunder. She was a 120-pound mastiff that was brave and independent when the weather was good. But as soon as it started to storm, she would cling to me like glue. 

Dogs can be alarmed by loud noises like thunder or fireworks. When dogs become clingy due to those loud noises it could be a fear response.

But, they can also be stressed by everyday noises such as vacuums or microwaves

Noises can be alarming for dogs, but they can also be painful. Dogs have a wider range of hearing which makes their ears more sensitive. Some noises can cause musculoskeletal pain in your dog!

Noises with higher frequencies aren’t heard by us but can be painful for your dog’s ears. Dogs can hear frequencies of up to 67,000 Hz which is quite impressive compared to the 20 Hz that we’re capable of hearing. That means dogs are regularly hearing things that we can’t and this can often explain all kinds of weird dog behavior from extra clinginess to growling at what appears to be nothing.

These loud (or not so loud) noises can cause them to cling to you suddenly. 

How To Change The Behavior

While some of you may want to change the behavior when your dog clings to you when they are afraid, I welcome the extra snuggles!

If you want to eliminate the clinginess when they hear loud noises, it may help to reassure them that everything is okay. Calmly tell them “it’s okay,” and be confident with your actions and posture. Allowing them to see that you are okay will eventually help them be okay, too!

If the noise is the result of a high frequency and is causing your dog pain, it will help to eliminate the noise to move the dog to a place where the noise is no longer a problem.

Reason 7: They Are In Heat 

When your dog is in heat, it means they are fertile and about to start their menstruation cycle. While in heat, their hormones shift, and changes are happening in their bodies. 

Your dog’s heat cycle is separated into four stages known as proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus.

Your female may become more affectionate as well as become suddenly clingy when she is in the proestrus stage of their heat. During this time her hormones are adjusting and she is seeking out companions who she can trust. This causes her behavior to switch and become suddenly clingy.

How To Change The Behavior 

When your dog is in heat it may help to give them their own private space to reduce their clingy behavior. A spacious kennel or even a room that has a door that closes can help your dog stay in their space and keep them from clinging to you.

If you don’t have a spot for your dog to retreat to when she is in heat, you can try giving her positive commands and reassurance to let her know she is okay. 

But the best solution is to have your dog spayed. PetSmart Charities has a huge database of extremely affordable spay/neuter clinics that you can check out here. Not only will spaying your pup help prevent unwanted litter and help reduce clinginess but spaying could also help your dog live longer by reducing their risks of certain diseases.

Reason 8: They Are About To Give Birth

When your female dog is about to give birth, she will begin to have behavioral changes. Her hormones are adjusting to help her care for her new litter, and she may feel exhausted. 

While all these changes are happening, she may begin to cling to you. Pregnancy is complicated for your dog, especially if it is her first and she doesn’t know what to expect. 

She will cling to you and look for guidance, which can be a sign that the birth is near.

How To Change The Behavior 

When your dog is about to have her puppies, you want to make her as comfortable as possible. Stress can be bad for her and reduces the possibility of uncomplicated labor. 

Your veterinarian may recommend setting up a whelping box for your soon-to-be mama! The whelping box will provide a safe and secluded place for your dog to birth and raise her puppies. 

The whelping box will also help keep her from clinging to you, as she will have a safe place to stay and give birth.

Once again, spaying your dogs is the best long term solution and PetSmart Charities makes it extremely easy.

Reason 9: You Are Menstruating or Pregnant

Sometimes our dogs cling to us when we menstruate or if you are pregnant. Our bodies change when we are on our monthly cycles or when we conceive. We emit new smells that our dogs pick up on and dogs are naturally attracted to the smell of period blood, however weird that can seem to us. 

Our dog’s noses can detect hormonal changes within our bodies, which may cause them to suddenly cling to you during these times. They will try to figure out what is going on, and be curious about your new odors.

Dogs have an impeccable sense of smell and will cling to you when they detect your menstrual cycle or pregnancy. Not only could this explain why dogs are suddenly clingy, but it could also explain why dogs are more attracted to you during your menstrual cycle.

How To Change The Behavior 

The best way to avoid clinginess while you are menstruating or pregnant is to avoid contact with your pet. Provide them with a safe space away from you that they can retreat to when you need space but beyond that there isn’t much you can do here. 

I personally love the extra cuddles when it’s my time of the month! All extra lovin’ is welcomed here!

Reason 10: They Have Age Related Health Issues

All dogs get old. It is a bittersweet part of life. It is honestly one of the hardest things to process. When I think of my fur-babies getting older, I am flooded with good memories! But it also reminds me that they won’t be around forever. The average lifespan of a dog is between 10 to 13 years depending on their breed.

Since dogs age at a much faster rate than we do, they start to show signs of age-related health issues by age 10. Many dogs will begin to cling to you when they start having health issues related to their age. 

Canine cognitive dysfunction or CCD is one age-related health condition that older dogs get. It is similar to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and causes your dog to become confused or disoriented in places they once knew. 

When your dog shows signs of CCD, they may cling to you because they see you as familiar, and it helps comfort them.

As your dog ages, they may also lose the sharpness of their senses such as loss of vision, hearing, and their ability to smell. The decline of their senses can cause them to cling to you because they need help locating things they can no longer find.

While age-related changes are usually slow, in other cases they may happen more suddenly and explain a sudden clinginess.

How To Change The Behavior 

As our dogs age we can help by making them comfortable. Keep things that they love in the same place to make it easier to find. Help your dog navigate if the come to you for guidance. 

Contact your vet if you notice sudden clinginess due to an age related health issue. They will help diagnose the exact issue.

If your pet is diagnosed with CCD you can help keep their mind sharp with puzzles like in this video here.

Reason 11: They Are Sick or Injured

Sometimes a once perfectly healthy dog will start to cling to you because they are sick. 

We never want our dogs to be sick, but dogs are prone to illness. They can develop cancer, diabetes, or heartworm just to name a few. Dogs don’t always show that they are sick the way we do. It may manifest as clinginess because they want you near them.

Dogs with injuries may also cling to you suddenly. A sprained leg, hurt paw, or any other type of injury can lead your dog to your side for comfort. 

If you ever feel that your dog may have some type of illness or notice an injury, always schedule an appointment with your veterinarian! The sooner you call them and explain what is going on with your dog, the quicker they can get them in for an examination. 

How To Change The Behavior 

Anytime you feel your dog is sick or notice an injury the best way to take action is to call your veterinarian! 

Your vet will provide an examination and find the right treatment plan for the underlying cause.

It Can Be A Combination Of Reasons!

We all know that our dogs have unique personalities and often use external stimuli in ways that cause them to react!

Sometimes a combination of the reasons listed above can contribute to our dog’s need for sudden clinginess.

Separation anxiety has multiple reasons for manifesting. When a dog who is attached to their owner becomes separated from them, they become distressed. The distress will become stronger when external factors such as loud noises or boredom set in, causing them to become clingy upon your return.

The combination of reasons show how complex our dogs really are, and helps us make sense of why they may cling to us all of a sudden.

Should I Be Concerned About Sudden Clinginess?

Sudden clinginess in dogs happens for various reasons, and each situation should be handled with patience and love. While most dogs are clingy because of a life event, sometimes it may indicate something deeper.

If the clinginess lasts longer than a few weeks, you should consider talking with your vet. They may want to know more about their behavior and the situation that brought it on. If they feel that the clingy behavior is part of a deeper problem, they may want you to bring them for further evaluation.

If you are concerned that the reason for your dog’s sudden clingy behavior is due to illness or pain, contact your veterinarian to help get a diagnosis and treatment plan as soon as possible.

My Final Thoughts

Each dog is different, and they don’t all react to things the same way. When our dogs suddenly show clingy behavior, we should always consider what they are going through to help us understand why they are acting this way. 

The sooner you pinpoint the reason for your dogs sudden clingy behavior, the quicker you can find the right plan to correct the behavior and help your dog overcome this behavior!