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Velcro dogsWho doesn’t love an adoring companion?  Your Greyhound follows your every move, attached at the hip. If you like this degree of togetherness, then there’s no problem.  But if you’d appreciate some alone time (like in the bathroom), here are some ideas about that clinginess and how to help your dog relax a little bit.

Why does my dog seem so needy?  

Some breeds are naturally clingy – here is a list of the 17 most clingy dog breeds: No surprise that Greyhound is #13.  In addition to breed/disposition, there are other reasons why your dog might be like this.

  1. This behavior can have an underlying medical cause, such as seizures or in the case of seniors, loss of sight or hearing can make surroundings seem suddenly unfamiliar.  See your veterinarian to rule out medical problems first if the behavior is new or suddenly becomes worse.
  2. Fear and anxiety , which could be seasonal, caused by things like thunderstorms or fireworks. Or if you have moved recently, had a new addition to the family or changed something in your routine.  It’s also important to note that your dog knows when you are stressed or anxious.  It’s contagious!  So it’s especially important in this time of national distress that you remain calm. 
  3. Our own behavior can cause some dogs to develop clinginess without even realizing it. If we stop every time we see our dog to give him praise, or a treat every time we go to the kitchen or pantry, they learn that staying close leads to the good stuff. Letting your dog sleep in your bed can create a dependence on being close to you. Now this isn’t a bad thing, it’s a personal preference – just recognize that this could contribute to Velcro Dog Syndrome.
  4. Boredom and a lack of mental stimulation is another cause. Dogs can get bored if they’re not given enough mental & physical exercise. Since they’re looking for something to do they’ll leap up and follow you around wherever you go.

 This clingy behavior is not the same as separation anxiety.  How to tell them apart?  Generally, what differentiates them is how a dog reacts to being away from their owner. Clingy dogs want to be around you when you're at home, but they don't panic when you're not there. A dog with separation anxiety panics when you're not around, and may engage in various destructive or anxious behaviors.

 How to make a dog less clingy

Velcro behavior is no real threat from your Greyhound, and easily correctable provided it is not a symptom of a larger problem. Here are several strategies to enable them to become more independent.

  1. Increase exercise. One of the easiest ways to decrease the stress underlying clingyness is to make sure your dog gets enough daily exercise. It’s not different for us humans either! Many of us are forced to stay home these days, and so have more time for play and exercise with our families and pets. Embrace it if you can.
  2. Stay calm. Your Grey has probably associated certain movements (e.g., going to the kitchen, grabbing your keys) with you rewarding or leaving them. To desensitize them to these movements, practice doing them without the usual outcome. For example, go to the kitchen and start sweeping or grab your keys and turn on the TV. That will decrease the emotional energy surrounding your movements and eventually, your dog will learn they can relax when you do move.
  3. Stimulate their mind. A bored dog may become clingy because he doesn't have anything better to do. You’re their main source of entertainment, so if your dog gets excited when he’s following you around it may be a sign that he’s bored and looking for something to do. If that’s the case check out my recent blog about Greyhounds and playtime Following calmly isn’t abnormal, and many of us don’t mind it at all — some of us find it quite flattering.
  4. Teach your dog “Place”. Set some boundaries. Our dogs look to us for cues; instead of just telling them what not to do, offer some acceptable behaviors.

Set up a space with your dog's bed and favorite dog toys where your dog can go instead of following you around or being underfoot. It can even be their crate. Train your dog to go to this area with a cue like, "Place," and immediately reward them with a treat when they go there.

Although clingy dog behavior can be endearing, it can also be annoying. You’re the one who decides how you’d like your dog to behave. Keeping your Greyhound mentally and physically challenged will help build your dog’s confidence, which will help to enable them to entertain themselves, and be OK on their own.

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