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A common behavior seen among great danes is to follow their owners around the house from room to room. Understandably, this can get old very quickly, with their sheer size it’s easy for them to get in the way. This article explains why this behavior is happening and what you can do about it.
4 Reasons Why Your Great Dane Follows You Everywhere:
- You’ve been accidentally reinforcing the behavior
- Your great dane is seeking attention
- Your great dane has separation anxiety
- He’s acting on instinctive “pack” behavior
Everything will be explained in full detail and what you can do about them.
Why Your Great Dane Follows You Everywhere
Let’s run through in detail each other reasons I mentioned above.
1. You’ve Been Accidentally Reinforcing The Behavior ⭐
This is by far the most common reason behind why your great dane is following you. And that’s due to having accidentally reinforced the behavior to your great dane. Let me explain what that means and how it’s happened.
When your great dane follows you, it’s really easy to reward him for it without realizing it. Even giving him attention could be seen by him as positive reinforcement to the fact he followed you and is right next to you. You also have obvious rewards like treats or tidbits.
To put it in perspective, if you went to the kitchen to make some lunch, and your great dane followed you in there, if you casually slip him a tiny piece of ham, then you just rewarded him for following you. It’s as easy as that… so guess where he will be the next time you leave the room!
Another broad way of looking at it is that “good things happen” whenever he’s by your side. Whether it’s receiving your affection and attention, a belly rub, treats, or tidbits, it all counts.
● What You Can Do:
The fix is fairly simple, although it requires consistency and your memory! Only reward your great dane (especially treats) when he has done something to deserve it, like completing a training exercise or following a command.
This becomes particularly hard when showing attention, but the same rules apply. If your dane follows you into the living room and up on to the couch, wait a good while before you start giving him his favorite belly rub. If you give him desirable attention straight after having followed you, he’ll be quick to link the two together.
Admittedly, this one is hard to remember to do, but with time and consistency, your dane will no longer associate treats and belly rubs simply by following and being right next to you. He has to earn it.
2. Your Great Dane Is Seeking Attention ⭐
Great danes LOVE attention and develop very strong bonds with their owners. They are a breed known to be very “needy” and this can definitely translate into following you around.
When you are home, your great dane will be focusing on you, where you are, and what you are doing as you become their source of entertainment and engagement.
You likely also happen to be the person who feeds him, walks him, plays with him, and shows him attention whenever you can. So, he knows who to come to.
● What You Can Do:
With neediness and attention-seeking it’s important to consider his daily routine and whether or not his basic needs have been met.
If your great dane isn’t receiving enough, he may be looking to you for it, so consider his exercise, training needs, playtime, and mental stimulation. Are any of those areas lacking? Because if they are, he may be following you around waiting for you to provide that for him.
If you realize your great dane doesn’t perhaps receive enough training or mental stimulation, then be sure to dedicate 30-45 minutes per day to it. Run through basic command training like sit, stay, paw, down and come here and be sure to reward with treats. No matter how basic it is, your great dane will be thoroughly entertained, will receive a potent dose of your undivided attention, and will feel more content.
You may be surprised but something as simple as this could be enough to stop him following you around all the time.
This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag | www.thepuppymag.com
3. Your Great Dane Is Developing Separation Anxiety ⭐
Separation anxiety is a serious condition, and it’s one that great danes, in particular, are susceptible to. One of the first symptoms of separation anxiety is, in fact, following you from room to room. The inability to be without you is a classic sign of separation anxiety.
It doesn’t mean to say he already has separation anxiety, or it may not suggest it at all, but considering that separation anxiety is such a difficult condition to resolve, all potential signs should be taken seriously.
Separation anxiety usually come with other signs such as the following:
- Getting overly anxious and erratic when you are preparing to leave the house
- Reacting negatively to the sound of your keys, when you put on your shoes or coat
- Destructive behavior when you are gone
- Excessive panting, drooling, or crying when you temporarily leave him (like going to the bathroom)
- General nervousness, shaking, and unable to relax throughout the day
● What You Can Do:
Addressing separation anxiety is a complex task, and can take several months if not years to fully resolve, depending on how far it’s developed. Some behavioral experts claim that once it’s developed it can’t be resolved and it all becomes about effectively managing it.
There are many different strategies and training techniques to tackle separation anxiety. If you think your great dane is developing or already has separation anxiety then start by watching this video. Cesar Millan does a better job than I could at explaining it. You then may want to get in contact with a behavioral expert if you can’t improve the situation alone.
4. He’s Acting On Instinctive “Pack” Behavior ⭐
Great danes have a long working history and for decades, if not centuries were closely guided by their pack leader. As a working dog with strict rules and lifestyle to follow, they would carefully anticipate every command their leader gave them.
Now, you may not be out hunting wild boar with your great dane, but the tendency to closely follow their leader is still deeply ingrained into them, regardless of domestication.
As their leader, they are expecting you to guide them, give them commands, and tell them exactly what to do. Many working dogs follow their owners for this reason, as they are constantly awaiting some kind of instruction from you. This is seen in german shepherds, huskies, collies, shepherd dogs, terriers, and many other working breeds.
● What You Can Do:
This may be particularly hard to identify as the cause, but if you can’t think of any other legitimate reason that fits your situation, it may the case.
Try increasing his daily command training. Giving him more stimulation via training and carrying out tasks like sit, stay, wait, down, and come here will satisfy his desire to “work”.
If he’s following you around all day waiting for you to assign him jobs and tasks to do, this may be exactly what he needs. Start increasing your daily command training (with positive reinforcement like treats) and see if the situations improves over a week or two.
The Best Way To Stop Your Great Dane Following You
Out of all of the methods outlined above, the best way to slowly prevent your great dane from following you is to stop reinforcing the behavior. The reason I put this first on the list is that it’s by far the most common reason for the behavior.
It’s sooo easy to accidentally be encouraging the exact behavior you don’t want, I’ve done it myself many times. As dogs see things in black and white, it’s hard for them to understand when you sometimes don’t like them following you, but then other times they receive a reward for it. And trust me, they’re going to remember the reward.
One time of conflicting information is enough to confuse your great dane, so it’s crucial you try to always think about when you give a reward or show affection.
Positive reinforcement is a term that’s used A LOT. And there’s a good reason for it, it’s a powerful technique of training! The problem is that it can be used in the wrong way (accidentally).
Be sure to only reward your great dane in moments where he has clearly deserved it, like carrying out basic training or following a specific command.
Assuming separation anxiety is not the issue, then following this tip carefully should see gain some positive results.
Why It’s Important To Stop This Behavior
Some owners may be perfectly fine with their giant friend following them around, and I don’t blame them, I would be too! But this may not be the best behavior to let slide.
The reason this behavior should be limited and prevented even if you don’t mind it is because it could cause separation anxiety in the future.
Allowing your great dane to follow you everywhere you go, is slowly training him to become very dependant on you being there. So when you need to leave the house for whatever reason, it becomes increasingly hard for him to tolerate. Until separation anxiety kicks in.
As separation anxiety is such a life-changing and serious condition everything should be done to avoid it. And following you from room to room is one of the first early signs that it may develop.
So, even if you don’t mind, start working on preventing it as soon as you can.
Thank you for reading! I really hope I managed to answer your question thoroughly. If you think I have missed something that future readers will find helpful, please contact me and I will be happy to add relevant sections. Have a great day with your great dane! Harry.