Dogs are fascinating creatures. There are so many breeds of dogs, with different personalities and talents.
Did you know that dogs that grow up closely with humans, and also the ones that love to sit on your lap all day are clingy or velcro dogs? They just love you so much that they can’t imagine a second of their lives without you.
If your dog follows you everywhere, even to the bathroom – that is a velcro dog. However, it’s not a bad thing until it gets upset with you for leaving it alone.
When you live in the same house as your dog, your dog’s mood is also going to affect yours. Therefore, we have prepared this article to spread more awareness about the velcro dog syndrome, what causes it, how it affects the dog, and its prevention methods.
At the end, we have provided a list of dog breeds that are naturally clingy so you can interpret the difference between a naturally clingy breed and a velcro dog.
Causes of the Velcro Dog Syndrome
Although some dogs are naturally clingy, the velcro syndrome is a cause of concern in some dogs. Here are a few reasons your dog may have developed the velcro syndrome.
1. Vision or Auditory Changes
Due to old age or for a surgical experience, some dogs may lose their sight or hearing abilities. The loss and the trauma can make them depend on you more, and thereby develop the velcro dog syndrome.
If you have assumed that your dog will just entertain itself while you stay busy with work, think again. If it’s not getting plenty of exercise and playtime, it may cling to you. Hence, you have to arrange some playtime with them so that they don’t develop the velcro syndrome.
3. New Home and Neighborhood
Your dog can feel uncomfortable in a new home and neighborhood. This may be one of the causes of velcro syndrome. The good news is that you can help it relax by following the same daily routine.
4. Your Behavior
Now, you can also be encouraging clingy behavior in your dog. For example, when you let it sleep on your bed every night, it becomes used to the habit.
In the same way, giving attention to your dog too much may make it clingy as well. So the simple solution is to maintain a healthy balance of togetherness and separateness.
5. Medical Issue
If your dog is generally not clingy, but start to exhibit signs of velcro syndrome, an underlying medical issue may be the reason. The best possible solution here is to visit the vet and resolve the issue.
Issues with the Velcro Dog Syndrome
Now that we have gone over the causes of the velcro dog syndrome, it’s time to get to know how this syndrome affects your little buddy. Often times, clinginess is related to past trauma and current stress.
The velcro dog syndrome can weigh down on your dog emotionally and physically. It experiences no pleasure in being without its owners, hence creating a limit to what it can explore otherwise. This syndrome can even make the dog depressed and lose appetite.
Common symptoms of your dog experiencing separation anxiety may be understood if it exhibits any of the following points when you leave – it attempts to escape, drools and pants excessively, urinates or defecates where it’s not supposed to, needs to chew, bite or destroy something, barks and howls constantly, and runs or walks around anxiously. It may also exhibit these behaviours when you are getting ready to leave.
Moreover, some experts believe that dogs become clingy because of how they were raised. In this regard, it can be deduced that if we just change the way we treat our dogs, we can prevent them from developing the velcro syndrome.
Steps to Prevent the Velcro Dog Syndrome
Generally speaking, some dog breeds are naturally clingy, but not in an unhealthy sense. They just love humans, which is why they like to stick around.
In saying that, the velcro dog syndrome is more of a disorder, where the dog feels like its life has no meaning without its owners. Co-dependency and clinginess are also prevalent in humans, which are not considered healthy as well.
We are touched by the news that highlight how dogs fail to accept the death of their owners and live all of their lives in misery after their family’s death. No matter how touching it looks, we should be more focused on helping those dogs move on from the death of loved ones, and be able to start a new, healthy life.
Just as with humans, we can prevent dogs from living with velcro syndrome by raising their confidence in themselves. A few tips are given below by which you can raise your dog’s confidence in itself and life.
1. Set Healthy Boundaries
Yes, you love your dog, but the reality is that you can’t be with it all the time. After all, you have work, you need to pay the bills, you need to pay for your dog, you have a social life, and you also need time for yourself.
Other areas of your life need your attention, and you must teach your dog that. Speak to it kindly, and explain your situation. Your dog may not speak human language, but it understands everything you say.
Furthermore, if it wants to sit on your lap when you’re in the middle of something important, use commands to express that you need space. For example, teach it to follow the ‘leave it’ command so that it leaves you alone when you’re busy.
You may need to use the commands more often if your dog is indeed going through the velcro syndrome. It will do anything to be near you, so don’t pay it attention when you’re in the kitchen, or doing something important.
Since dogs can read your mood, you have to remove the focus from your dog, for example, by closing the door and refuse to make any eye contact with it. It will get the message after a few practice rounds, and then leave you alone eventually.
2. Doggy Day Care
If you are a busy person who has no time to teach etiquette to his or her dog, take the help of a dog daycare. The time spent away from you is going to help your dog become more independent and self-reliant.
Additionally, it will find new, interesting things to occupy its time with in the daycare. Having new friends is going to change its life for the better.
3. Be Smart
Make sure your dog has lots of toys to play with so that it’s not always playing with you. Spread the toys in different locations of the house, and let it look for them. On the other hand, if it doesn’t want to go, use commands.
You can also teach your dog distance by playing games that create separation between you two. Some of the games that create distance between you and your dog are hide and seek, fetch and nose work games.
As a rule, your dog will get tired after playing and exercising, if you are taking it out for a walk. So it will fall asleep quickly, and won’t even notice what you’re doing. You can do this to create space between yourself and the dog.
4. Give Treats for Staying Away
If your dog gets rewarded for staying away from you, it will keep doing it more often. Place some treats in your dog’s personal space, so that it can spend some time there.
Command it to leave you alone, and as a reward, give treats. Normally, you can use the ‘go to’ command for this situation. In the same way, refuse to give any treat or pat, if it disobeys you.
5. Teach House Chores
Many people are teaching their dog’s house chores so they can be of help around the house, and the dogs love being of service to their families. You can teach them simple things, such as closing doors, sorting the laundry, fetching the newspaper, finding things around the house and other useful chores.
This way, not only are you getting some help around the house, but your dog will also find something to do other than playing, eating and pooping. In order to remove the velcro syndrome, your dog needs mental stimulation, analytical thinking, physical activity, and a sense of purpose. House chores will develop these qualities in it, which will slowly get it out of boredom and depression.
6. Get Your Dog a Buddy
When you are the only living being in the house, your dog has no choice but to follow you around. Unless you have other people living with you, your dog may feel obliged to be with you wherever you go.
Option one is that you can get another roommate or a family member to live with you. Then your dog will have more options to cling to.
On the contrary, option two is to get a new pet for your little friend. Dogs can coexist with a number of animals, including cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, chickens, ferrets, snakes, lizards, turtles and fish. So make your pick, and end the velcro dog syndrome forever!
Dog Breeds that are Naturally Clingy
It’s not unknown to many that dogs can be clingy sometimes, which is why they require discipline. However, some people like to have clingy dogs. Here is a list of clingy dogs that you will love to have by your side –
A Rat Terrier is an amusing and active dog. In addition, it loves its owners.
Hence, if you don’t hang out with it, it’s going to get upset. On the other hand, if you are not in a good mood, it will pick up on it, and will do its best to cheer you up!
Young girls are huge fans of the Papillon. It is a beautiful dog with butterfly-like ears and a sweet face.
Generally, it is playful and can’t live without cuddles, which is why it is on this list of velcro dogs.
The Labrador Retriever is one of the most common dogs owned by people. Many people have it, and they love to spend time with it. It is playful, loyal and would go anywhere with you.
Newfoundland is a big dog, and may not be suitable for young kids. Having said that it is also comical, reliable and even-tempered. It loves humans and vice versa.
English Toy Spaniel
The English Toy Spaniel is a cuddly, lap dog, and you know what that means. It is officially a velcro dog, and won’t settle for anything less than undying affection.
This big dog can stand as tall as three feet, but very gentle towards little kids. It is super protective of its family, and also super loving towards them.
Weighing about two hundred pounds, the English Mastiff is a big dog with a gentle heart. It may be too big for small kids, but it loves to show everybody love.
Although known for being powerful and headstrong, deep down a bulldog needs more love than you imagined. Despite its ancestors being fighting dogs, the new generation bulldogs are simply cute and cuddly.
The most famous lap dog, Chihuahuas get attached to their owners pretty fast. In addition, they will protect its family at all costs in the face of danger.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This is another breed of dog known for being too sweet. In fact, don’t take it home if you want a watchdog. But if you want a live, teddy bear, this is for you.
Playful and adorable, a Boxer needs to be engaged in various activities with you. You will definitely enjoy having this little buddy at home.
This dog is a family lover. Don’t be surprised if you find your Australian Shepherd watching TV with you, sleeping with you, or giving you a hand in the yard. It just can’t get enough of the family life!
Another family-friendly dog is the Bichon Frise. It is not the clingiest compared to other velcro dogs. However, it loves to hang out with its family, and won’t leave them alone.
Though trained to catch criminals, the Bloodhound has a soft soul. It likes to be in the house with its family. In fact, the more time it spends with the family, the happier it is.
The last on our list, the Belgian Sheepdog, is a supercharged, velcro dog. You have to partake in various physical activities with this dog due to its need for exercise. Once all worn out, it will just snuggle next to you quietly.
Difference Between Clinginess and Velcro Syndrome
A clingy dog enjoys being around you, but it won’t become anxious when you leave the house, whereas a dog with velcro syndrome is going to freak out when you disappear.
A dog with velcro syndrome will engage in destructive behavioural patterns when you leave due to anxiety. Some of the destructive patterns include biting, chewing and destroying things, escaping the house, howling, barking and whining, and strutting nervously.
If you see that your dog is doing the above mentioned activities, then you either need to take matters into your own hands or seek professional help by contacting a veterinary behaviourist.
You can also follow these protocols to bring positive changes in your dog’s behaviour by yourself –
Leave the television or radio on when you leave the house. You can also play music or a tv show on your laptop so that your dog feels assured that it is not home alone.
Let another person spend time with your dog and engage in different activities. It can even be a veterinary behaviourist, who can teach it to calm its nerves every time it panics, or sees its owner leaving.
Making your dog sleep with you in your bed will only make things worse. Let your dog sleep on its own in order to become more independent.
Your velcro dog may follow you everywhere once you get back home seeking attention. Although it looks bad, you have to ignore it. Your dog will find something else to do after the rejection.
Now, this one is interesting. You have to trick your dog into believing that you are leaving, just to test how long it can stay calm without you. You need professional guidance to conduct this experiment, though.
When testing for the first time, come back into the house immediately. During round two, pretend to be outside for two minutes, then come in. Gradually increase the time for up to ten minutes, and keep records of the progress made.
Sometimes, your dog may need to take prescribed medications for anxiety to help mold its behavior. However, only a professional veterinary behaviorist can recommend medications like this upon a thorough check-up of your dog’s velcro syndrome. Some dogs recover from the syndrome without medications.
CBS 3 Pet Project: The Velcro Dog
Long Story Short
If you have found this article, then it is no coincidence. You may be dealing with a clingy dog that doesn’t want to understand personal boundaries.
We hope after reading this article, you have been able to understand the difference between a dog that likes to be cuddled, and one that is actually suffering from the velcro syndrome.
For the most part, it is easy to spot a dog that is going through the syndrome. In this case, you must ensure that proper steps are taken to get your dog out of the syndrome.
However, don’t be cold to your velcro dog because that will hurt its feelings. Setting healthy boundaries, getting a new roommate or a new pet, and sending them to a dog daycare are much better ways to deal with the problem.