Dog Science Series: Why Does My Dog Follow Me Into the Bathroom?
Dogs. They're called "man's best friend" for a reason. If you take the time and effort necessary to train your furry friend correctly, they will follow you to the ends of the earth. They are pack animals after all. It's in their nature to be faithful to a pack leader.
As much as you may love your best friend, owning what's known as a "velcro dog" isn't always the most optimal situation. Sometimes your pooch just won't give you any alone time. Today we're going to take a look at this particular kind of dog behavior in an attempt to answer the question, "Why does my dog follow me into the bathroom?"
What is a Velcro Dog?
First, let's talk about nomenclature. What is a velcro dog and how does it differ from separation anxiety? A velcro dog is a doggy who follows you everywhere. Not only do they follow you, oftentimes they wait for you to move.
A velcro dog feels a near-compulsive need to always be by your side. This particular type of dog keeps you in its line of sight at all times. Velcro dogs are slightly different from dogs with separation anxiety. These dog breeds make it both their mission and challenge to maintain eye contact and follow you wherever you go —right up to the bathroom door and beyond!
Top Reasons that Dogs Follow You Into the Bathroom
Armed with the definition —and rough psychological profile of a velcro dog— let's proceed with the top reasons why your furry friend won't give you the alone time you so desperately crave.
They Are Pack Animals
To understand why your pooch follows you to bathroom time, it helps to see the world through their point of view. Dogs are pack animals by nature, and all dogs exhibit a pack mentality, at least to some extent. The experience that's hard-wired into their DNA compels them to follow you everywhere you go. In the wild, there is safety and protection for pack members who stay in close proximity to one another.
Why does your dog follow you to the bathroom? The simplest answer is, "To preserve the composition of the pack."
Nine times out of ten, this type of dog behavior is perfectly innocent, but there's one situation where you might want to consider visiting a dog trainer or dog behavior specialist: separation anxiety.
We previously mentioned that separation anxiety and velcro dogs aren't the same thing. Velcro dogs lack the pronounced panic of a pooch with formal separation anxiety. With separation anxiety, you aren't just the doggy's favorite person, you are their world. An unhealthy psychological need may compel them to be spending time with you as much as possible. If you suspect true separation anxiety, seek help from a professional dog trainer.
They Are Trying to Tell You Something
So you've just settled in for some bathroom time when all of a sudden your dog wants to poke their nose under the bathroom door and follow you inside. It's easy to dismiss them as a velcro dog, or worse, one with separation anxiety, but the reason behind their behavior could be much simpler.
If your furry friend keeps following you into the loo, pay extra attention to his or her body language and try to determine if there is some underlying need driving the behavior. Perhaps your dog wants to go outside to go poop. If your dog keeps following you, they could be in discomfort, hungry, or in need of mental stimulation. Make sure your dog's needs are met before you declare their behavior problematic.
They Identify You as the Pack Leader
We talked previously about the pack mentality prevalent in most dog breeds, but sometimes that relationship goes deeper. Chances are they view you as more than just another packmate; you are the pack leader.
When it comes to dog training, every pet owner should strive to become the pack leader. To your best friend, however, you are their favorite person, the one they've bonded to the most. Because you are their favorite person, they just can't help following you everywhere, even at the cost of your own privacy.
It's In Their Breed's Traits
Certain types of dog breeds are built to follow their owners close at hand. Oftentimes, these are working dogs such as border collies, labrador retrievers, doberman pinschers, and other herding breeds. In fact, these cattle dogs aren't necessarily looking for unconditional love and cuddles. They follow you to the bathroom because they want to herd you!
They Don't Understand the Concept of "Privacy"
For many dog owners and pet parents, bathroom time is alone time. The concept of privacy just isn't in a dog's lexicon, however. Your dog is your best friend. A well-cared-for dog will shower you with unconditional love at every opportunity. From the pooch's point of view, they are doing you a service by staying at your heel. They define their world by your presence, and just want to be around you as much as they possibly can!
The Bathroom is Just Plain Interesting to Them
Spoiler alert: dogs have a keen sense of smell. For better or worse, the bathroom is FILLED with new and interesting smells that appeal to a dog's sensibilities. For example, dogs in the wild (or on a walk) gain information about one another by sniffing things like leftover poop. They apply the same line of logic to their human counterparts.
Why do dogs follow you into the bathroom? Next time you try to snag some alone time, consider that your best friend may be along solely for the entertainment value.
Why does my dog follow me to the bathroom and not my partner?
Dogs have a highly structured concept of social interactions, i.e. a pack mentality. They often identify a single human as pack leader, and that human becomes their favorite person.
Do dogs understand when you kiss them?
Yes and no. Dogs don't process affection in the same way that humans do, but they do crave attention and can infer their owner's mood and intentions from physical touch. Kissing your dog may help calm them, and will probably help strengthen your bonds.
Should I let my dog in the bathroom with me?
This is a matter of personal preference. In most cases, there's really no harm in allowing your pooch to stay in the bathroom with you. If you don't want them to, however, there are products and training methods available to help make your best friend more independent.