It’s happened to every dog owner… you go to the bathroom, and your dog can’t help but join you. They creep up while you are doing your business, just to check out why you might be leaving their side. While this can be an endearing behavior, there are other reasons it might happen.
If you’ve landed here, you are probably wondering why this happens. There are actually multiple reasons your dog might be following you into spaces where you need a little more privacy. It might come down to the breed of dog, or perhaps it’s because of learned behavior.
In this article, we’ll discuss ten of the top reasons why your dog may follow you into the bathroom. You’ll also learn to understand why this peculiar canine behavior occurs. You’ll also learn a few tips that can help you stop it, if that’s your goal. Let’s jump in!
- Why Dogs Join You in the Bathroom
- Is This Behavior Normal?
- Can You Stop This Behavior?
- Final Thoughts
Why Dogs Join You in the Bathroom
Let’s start off by saying that this list is not all-inclusive. There may be other reasons that your dog consistently follows you into your private bathroom space. In most cases, it’s learned behavior or an anxious dog.
But, if your dog is acting out of the ordinary, we recommend checking with your local veterinarian to ensure there are no health problems that may cause them to seek you out. Below are the ten most common reasons your dog may be looking for you while you head to the toilet.
You Are The Pack Leader
No matter the type of furry friend you have in your home, they are all descendants of wolves. With their wild roots comes an ingrained pack mentality, causing your pup to cling to your side as often as they can. Not only do our dogs crave companionship, but they can even become imprinted on you. This is most common in dogs that you bring into your home in the first few months of their life, as they will often look to you as a parental figure.
When you are a member of your dog’s pack, they will feel an obligation to follow you around your home. Though we may see our bathroom trips as a private moment, our canine friends don’t understand this. Because of this, your pup may push right through your bathroom door and perch themselves next to you. If your dog seems to follow you around at every moment, you may simply be a key member of their pack.
They Dislike Being Away From You
We are our dogs’ entire world. While we may have plenty of distractions in our lives, our dogs just have us. Because of this, they want to spend as much time by our side as possible. This is especially true if you have a day job, and your pup may not see you as much as they’d like to.
No matter where you are walking to in your home, your pup will likely follow suit in order to spend time with their favorite person. If your dog is attached to your hip at all sides, they may simply love to be around you!
They Want To Protect You
When our dog’s ancestors used to roam the forest, they often relied on their other pack members to watch their back. While these wild dogs would offer their pack members protection at all times. This was especially crucial when going to the bathroom. This activity is seen as a vulnerable state among our canine friends. This is due to the fact that a dog is in a vulnerable position while using the restroom, as well as the fact that they are slightly distracted.
A predator can easily sneak up on a dog when they are in a vulnerable state. Our dogs have this understanding ingrained into their minds. This is why you may catch your dog making eye contact with you while they are doing their business. This is a mutual understanding that you can alert them of any incoming dangers. Your dog may simply be following you in an effort to guard you during your vulnerable state. If it seems like your pup is standing guard at all times, they may be trying to protect you.
They Are Curious
Dogs are curious creatures. Our canine companions want to scope out and explore their surroundings, and that includes what we’re up to as well. We often shut the door behind us when we walk into the bathroom, making this space even more mysterious to our pups. When our dogs attempt to follow us, they may simply want to explore the room that seems so unknown to them.
Another possibility is the fact that our dogs are curious about what we’re doing at all times. Similar to a toddler not wanting to fall asleep when company is over, our dogs have a hard time with not being in the loop at all times. Your pup may believe that something fun is happening when you walk into the restroom. They simply may not want to miss out on any excitement.
They Have Separation Anxiety
Does your dog struggle with being alone? Maybe they howl the moment you step out of your home, paw you as you leave, or scratch at the door you have closed in front of them. If this sounds like your furry friend, they may be struggling with separation anxiety. A dog with separation anxiety may have a hard time with being on their own.
This may cause them to follow you the second you step into the restroom. If you are seeing evidence of stress in your pup when they are forced to be on their own, this may be the reason they are following you around.
They Receive Positive Reinforcement
Our dogs are extremely smart, and they catch on quickly to behavior that seems to get your attention. A dog sitting at your side in the restroom may cause you to reach over and pat their head, or even give them a treat after the interaction. If this happens often, your pup will likely catch on to the fact that this behavior brings them a reward.
If your dog often follows you into the bathroom, try to examine the interaction for anything that could be offering them positive reinforcement. Many times it comes down to the owner rewarding the wrong behavior. If a treat or extra attention is what they seem to crave, try handing them a treat before you step into the restroom.
They Are “Velcro Dogs”
Some dogs are simply needier than others. While this is not always the case, some breeds of dogs are known to be more clingy than other canine friends. For example, toy breeds of dogs are more likely to cling to their owner’s side and follow them around the house.
Herding breeds are usually a bit more independent and can function away from their owners for long periods of time. This is often due to some dogs having a deeper need for human companionship or even the environment they were raised in.
If your dog follows you around the house at all times, they may be considered a velcro dog. This can also tie into separation anxiety, the habit of imprinting on their owners, or any other behavior that causes a dog to cling to the people in their home.
They Don’t Understand Privacy
To you and I, a trip to the restroom is a private moment. Our canine companions don’t have any understanding of personal boundaries, meaning they don’t understand why we would appreciate alone time when entering the restroom. Our dog’s ancestors would always work together to achieve their goals, meaning they never spent any time alone. If your dog is always following you, they may be simply following through on this ingrained behavior.
They Are Afraid To Be Alone
Some canine companions are not secure enough in themselves or their surroundings to be left alone in a room. These pups may follow their owners around at all times. They may also display signs of anxiety when they are on their own. If a dog is afraid to be left alone, they will likely follow their owner to the bathroom the second they get up. They will often display this behavior with any move their owner makes around the house. It will also happen as they cling to their owner in other environments.
This is extremely common in dogs that move into a new home, are newly adopted, or are simply insecure in their own skin. If your dog follows you around at all times, seems on edge, or displays signs of separation anxiety, they may be afraid to be left alone.
They Want To Connect With You
Does your dog sit next to you in the bathroom and gaze into your eyes? How about attempting to rest their head in your lap when you sit on the toilet? If your dog participates in this behavior, they may be trying to connect with you during your trips.
While this may seem like an odd time to connect, some dogs crave any one-on-one attention they can get with their favorite human. If you find your pup gazing into your eyes each time you step into the restroom, they may be in search of a special connection.
Is This Behavior Normal?
Following their owners into the restroom is a fairly normal behavior in our canine companions. Our dogs love to be in our presence. It’s not unexpected for them to follow us around as often as they can. While this behavior can range from simple curiosity to severe separation anxiety, it’s up to us to decipher the possible cause that fits our dog best. By examining the 10 reasons that we discussed above, you can better examine this behavior in your furry friend.
Can You Stop This Behavior?
If you are tired of your pup following you into the restroom, there are a few ways to put an end to this behavior. While every dog will vary in their reasoning for following their owner, there are a few tips to try at home!
- Use your bathroom time as an opportunity to train your pup.
- Practice having your pup sit outside of the restroom door, and reward them after.
- Hand your pup their favorite toy or bone when you need to use the restroom.
- They may get immersed in this object instead of following you.
- Try playing with a toy before walking into the bathroom.
- Toss it into the opposite direction when you walk away.
- Think your canine companion is experiencing separation anxiety?
- If so, it may be useful to explore crate training, especially when young.
- If possible, try to reduce the time you are away from home.
- Work on teaching the stay command during bathroom trips.
- If the above doesn’t work, install a baby gate near your restroom.
- This will help your dog understand they can’t be in the area.
- Slowly remove the gate over time once they learn that they aren’t allowed.
As you can see, there are many possible reasons as to why your pup follows you into the bathroom. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can better understand this canine behavior going forward! As always, if you have concerns about your dog’s behavior, make sure to speak to your local veterinarian to address any potential medical issues. If your pup has no medical issues, consider speaking with a dog trainer in your area.