Dogs are wonderful and faithful pets. They bring happiness and companionship into our lives. On the flip side, they also require care and responsibility on our part. Of course, all of that is worth it when you have a pooch that loves you with all his heart.
Some dogs are lucky enough to have owners who can spend almost every waking minute with them. Taking their dog to work and along for hobbies like hiking and fishing. Believe me, when I say, these dogs know they have it made! It’s truly a dog’s dream come true to spend all day with the people they love the most.
But what about dogs that haven’t don’t equally embrace everyone in their family? You’d think dogs would be happy to be with any member of their family. I know our two dogs are just as likely to lay down next to me in the office as they are next to my spouse in the living room.
My sister’s dog is different though. Her dog is much happier with her than with her husband. They both find it odd, and to be honest, I think it hurts her husband’s feelings a little bit.
So, what’s up with dogs following one owner around but not the other? Why does my dog follow me and not my husband? There isn’t one quick and easy answer as there are many reasons for this behavior. However, your dog following you and not your husband likely boils down to an emotional issue, perception of who the parent is, encouragement, training, time spent together, fear, breed, or instinct.
While dogs seem to be nothing but happy-go-lucky, they can, like humans can have emotional issues that affect everything from their appetites to their behavior. While they aren’t the top reasons your dog may follow you and avoid your spouse, emotional issues are something you should be aware of.
Clingy dogs sometimes have what is called Velcro Dog syndrome. Dogs with Velcro Dog syndrome follow their owners around, trying to be as close to them as possible. They keep a close eye on their every move, even trying to anticipate when their owner plans to leave the room so they can go at the exact same time. This syndrome is commonly seen as clingy or needy. While it may seem like your dog is suffering, remember that Velcro Dog syndrome is not the same or as worrisome as separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a serious emotional issue that some dogs suffer from. When left alone, they may bark, howl, whine, destroy things in the house, have accidents, or pace back and forth. If your dog has any of these symptoms when you leave him alone with your spouse, he may be suffering from separation anxiety from you. While it’s not the same as being clingy, it can still result in your dog following you around more than anyone else.
Lonely And Bored
Lonely and bored dogs will often follow their owner around because they have nothing else better to do. If you work long hours, your dog may spend a good portion of his day at home alone. When you’re finally home, he’s going to want to be with you as much as possible before you leave again.
You’re The Mom (Or Dad)
Whether you realize it or not, many dogs perceive their owners as parent figures. Puppies stay with their mothers until they’re old enough to fend for themselves. During that time, the mother is responsible for feeding them, keeping them safe, and teaching them survival skills.
When you adopt a puppy, he’s going to see you as his mother. He’ll want to be close to you because he perceives you as the one who will take care of him.
This can be especially true if you rescued a dog from terrible living conditions or if your dog was weaned too soon and you were there to help him. It is only natural that your good boy will want to stay close to the person they perceive as their parent and protector.
This naturally will lead to your dog following you around rather than your husband (or wife).
One excellent way to train dogs is with positive reinforcement. They love being rewarded and given what they need. This goes farther than training though, it’s quite likely that your dog has had many positive experiences with you and therefore wants to be around you all the time!
If you’re the one who takes care of his needs rather than your spouse, it’s no wonder that your dog follows you around rather than your husband. Feeding your dog, letting him out to potty, and taking care of his basic needs are all things your dog pays attention to.
If you add that you are the one who spoils your dog with treats and ear scratches there’s no doubt your dog will be hooked!
When we first got a dog I was lucky enough to be able to do almost everything with him. He came to work with me, ran errands, went on hikes, and more. My spouse wasn’t able to spend nearly as much time with him, and therefore didn’t get to treat him or tend to his needs nearly as much as I did.
As a result, for a long time, this dog was nearly attached to me. Even on the mornings that I had to wake up extra early to work he’d stumble into the office and sleep under the desk while I was on the computer.
Like many people, I make my dogs sit to get a treat. Now, if they anticipate treats, they will sit ahead of time. This behavior can carry over to nearly all types of training with dogs.
There are situations where you want your dog to stay close to you. If you encounter those situations often enough, you have probably taken the time to train your dog to stick by you.
It makes sense then, that if your dog has been trained to stay by you when you give the command, he may try to impress you and be near you even when you haven’t given the command.
Time Spent Together
If your spouse came into your life well after your dog did, he is likely much more attached to you than to your husband. Dogs form very strong bonds with their owners and the longer you spend together, the stronger that bond becomes.
This can often result in a dog who is more attached to one person than another even if both people are equally loving and attentive. It could easily be that your dog is simply much more attached to you and therefore follows you around and not your husband.
The reason your dog follows you around rather than your husband could be that your dog is afraid of your husband. There is, of course, the obvious reason for this; violence. However, there are also many other reasons your dog could be fearful of your husband aside from your husband physically harming your dog.
If you do all of the fun stuff with your dog like take him on walks and give him treats while leaving your husband the tasks of scolding your dog for getting on the couch or taking your dog to the vet, this could lead to your dog being scared of your husband. With this family dynamic, your dog is often seeing your husband during negative interactions.
Additionally, some dogs are scared of people for (in our view) irrational reasons. Maybe your husband’s voice is too deep, he wears a hat of has ‘threatening’ facial hair. All of these are reasons your dog could be scared of your husband and only follow you around.
All dogs see a pecking order of sorts in their families. It’s part of being a pack animal. So, while all dogs will see someone at the top of this pecking order as the leader of the pack, some dogs will insist on being right there with the leader at all times.
This can be a result of your dog’s breed. Breeds that were bred to work alongside humans such as are more likely to want to stay close.
On the other hand, some breeds were bred to do tasks that required more independence. These dogs may not feel the need to follow anyone around and could care less about being in your shadow.
Is It Okay If My Dog Follows Me And Not My Spouse?
Usually, it is okay if your dog follows you around rather than your spouse. There are, of course, some exceptions to this. You don’t want your dog following you around if it is because he has a serious problem.
If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety or is scared of your husband because he is physically abusive to your dog, you’ll need to address those issues immediately.
Also, you need to be okay with your dog following you and not your spouse. Above I mentioned there was a time when one of our dogs followed me everywhere. While that was usually okay, sometimes it was a little annoying because he would end up right under me and nearly trip me. For a while, I thought the last thing I’d see before I died would be my sweet dog’s eyes looking up at me as I tripped over him.
I’m obviously exaggerating about my dog accidentally murdering me, but he really did trip me up multiple times a week. It was then he became familiar with the command ‘go on’, which I had to use frequently for a while.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Only Following Me And Not My Spouse?
Maybe your spouse is like my aforementioned brother-in-law and their feelings are hurt because the dog follows you and not them. Or maybe your dog is following you too closely and tripping you a lot (like my dog was doing to me). Whatever the reason you’ve decided it’s time to change your dog’s behavior. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to easily do so.
Include Your Husband
Make sure your husband is helping take care of your dog’s basic needs. Your dog should see your husband giving him food, opening the door so he can go potty in the yard, and participating in other aspects of your dog’s life.
Invite your husband outside to play with you and your dog, go on a walk together and do other fun activities that include both your husband and your dog. This will help your dog appreciate your husband more and want to be with him (and follow him and not you!) more often.
Stop Rewarding Your Dog For Following You
It’s hard to resist spoiling our lovable and sweet dogs. However, if your dog is following you around because he knows he can get treats, belly rubs, or other rewards from you, you need to stop it.
Instead of giving your dog what he wants when he follows you around, only give him attention and rewards when he is sitting calmly by your side or in another room altogether. This will help your dog learn that following you isn’t the best way to get what he wants.
Do Reward Your Dog For Following Your Husband
While you shouldn’t give your dog attention or rewards when he is following you around, your husband should give him rewards when he is paying attention to and following your husband.
This will help your dog realize that it’s good to listen to and follow your husband. You can give your dog a treat, pet him, or do something else he enjoys when he is doing as you want.
Address Loneliness And Boredom
If you and your spouse are gone for long periods your dog could be extremely bored and lonely. To help address this issue, make sure your dog has plenty of toys to keep him occupied while you’re gone. Toys that dispense treats when a task is accomplished are great for keeping dogs entertained and mentally stimulated. You may also want to consider doggy daycare or hiring a dog walker to help reduce your dog’s boredom and loneliness.
Talk With The Pros
If you’ve tried the tips above and your dog is still only following you and not your husband, it may be time to seek professional help. This might come in the form of consulting your vet regarding your dog’s separation anxiety or you may want to enroll yourself and your dog in some training classes.
Training classes can be a great way to not only learn commands to help you communicate with your dog but also to socialize your dog and find like-minded people you may decide to spend time with on a ‘dog date’.
Make Sure Your Dog Isn’t Scared Of Your Husband
If your dog is afraid of your husband it’s no wonder he’s only following you around. Dogs that are scared tend to stay close to their ‘safe’ person. If this is the case, there are some things you can do to help your dog feel more comfortable around your husband.
Start by having your husband give your dog some treats. Once your dog is comfortable taking treats from your husband, have your husband pet him before giving him a treat. If your dog seems uncomfortable or scared at any time during this process, take things slow and don’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do.
This is all assuming your husband isn’t and hasn’t been abusive to your dog. If your dog has suffered at the hands of your husband you’ll have a much bigger problem that may never be solved.
Change won’t happen overnight. It will take time and patience for your dog to start following your husband more and you less. Be consistent with the steps you are taking and eventually, your dog’s behavior will change.
Conclusion: Why Does My Dog Only Follow Me And Not My Husband?
There are a few different reasons your dog may be more attached to you than your husband. It could be that you spend more time together, you’ve been their primary caregiver, or your dog is afraid of your husband. Additionally, some breeds of dogs are more likely to want to stay close to their humans than others. Emotional issues could also be at play if your dog is particularly attached to you and not your husband.
If your dog is always following you around, and it isn’t due to him suffering from abuse, loneliness, or an emotional issue, then there’s no need to worry, it’s likely just their way of showing they love you!
However, you may still wish to change your dog’s behavior. If that is the case, there are ways you can help your dog learn to not follow you as much and to spend more time with your husband. This includes rewarding your dog when he is following your husband, addressing boredom and loneliness, and being patient. If you’ve tried these things and your dog is still only following you, it may be time to speak to a veterinarian or animal behaviorist for more guidance.