Your dog has shown affection to you on multiple occasions. That’s just how awesome dogs are.
But you’re not used to being showered with affection… All.The.Time.
And currently, your dog’s behavior seems over the top.
Oh-oh! “Should I be worried?”, you think to yourself.
Let me answer that for you.
Keep reading and find out:
- 7 signs your dog is in heat.
- Whether your dog is affectionate due to a change in your body.
- A weird reason why your dog is showing you so much affection (hint: it’s #9).
- How life changes could make your dog overly-affectionate and what to do about it.
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
- What does it mean when your dog is overly-affectionate?
- Why is my dog suddenly overly-affectionate?
- 15 reasons why your dog is (suddenly) overly-affectionate
- #1: Dog in heat
- #2: Pregnancy
- #3: Fear
- #4: Stress caused by changes
- #5: Sickness
- #6: Aging
- #7: Pain
- #8: Puppy clinginess
- #9: It’s shedding time
- #10: Something’s changed
- #11: Anxiety
- #12: Your dog wants your attention… and knows how to get it
- #13: Boredom
- #14: Your dog comes from a shelter
- #15: You have a dependent dog breed
- 5 tips on what to do if your dog is overly-affectionate (all of a sudden)
What does it mean when your dog is overly-affectionate?
If your dog is overly-affectionate it could be due to a medical condition such as being sick or in pain. Or because they’re pregnant, being fearful, stressed, old, anxious, in need of attention, bored, experiencing life changes, coming from a shelter, or sensing human pregnancy or illness.
Why is my dog suddenly overly-affectionate?
If your dog is overly-affectionate all of a sudden, the reason could be a change in your or the dog’s body. Dogs can detect pregnancy and sickness in the human body. But it’s also possible that the dog is sick, pregnant, or in heat. Other possibilities include stress due to life changes.
15 reasons why your dog is (suddenly) overly-affectionate
#1: Dog in heat
Is your female dog in heat at the moment?
If this is the first time for her, she might need reassurance that everything’s gonna be fine. As a result, she might become needier.
Here are the signs of a female dog going through heat:
- Swollen vulva.
- Bloody discharge.
- Frequent urination.
- Changed tail position.
- Obsessive licking of the genital area.
Dogs are sensitive and able to recognize whenever there’s a change in a human’s body. That applies not only to sickness but also to natural stages of life such as pregnancy.
If there’s a pregnant woman in the family, the dog may become more protective of her. And gentler (understand affectionate).
Science says dogs are able to detect:
- Prostate cancer.
- Changes in blood sugar levels.
But how is this possible?
Dogs can be used as narcolepsy detectors because they sense the change of sweat odor.
As to prostate cancer, a dog needs to smell a urine sample from the person in question.
Dogs can spot the blood sugar levels increasing or dropping due to a change in odor. This change is undetectable by the human sense of smell.
But back to pregnancy. If the dog senses the pregnant person is feeling under the weather, they might attempt to cheer her up. By providing licks and cuddles that is.
An example is when the pregnant lady throws up. The dog might be puzzled by this, as they’re not used to seeing their human in such a state. So they’ll try to make things better the dog way. 🙂
Now that you know this, your dog’s affectionate behavior during pregnancy, makes more sense, right?
Similarly, a pregnant dog would feel the need for company and moral support. You should be flattered that they choose you to be by their side in such an important moment.
The female dog’s affectionate behavior might occur soon before giving birth. Or during the birth process.
Note: Giving birth is a stressful and energy-draining experience for the dog. Choosing you to be next to her is a sign of trust.
A fearful dog will try to seek comfort from their dog parent. By being more affectionate, your dog is telling you “Please, don’t leave me alone!”
Thing is that some dogs are sensitive to loud noises such as construction work, fireworks, thunder. This phenomenon is called noise sensitivity.
As soon as the dog hears scary noises, they’ll turn to you for protection.
But that’s not all.
A fearful dog might start sleeping at your feet. Or back to back. Maybe they’ll lay on top of you. The idea is that they’re touching a body part of yours.
That’s comforting for your dog. This way, they know when you’re about to go somewhere. So they can follow you and not let you out of sight.
A new puppy
If your puppy has recently been introduced to the household, they’ll need some time to adjust. Expect your puppy to be frightened by a lot of things. Including human companions.
Your puppy reacts this way due to fear of the unknown. After all, they’re in a new environment. So their stress levels go up.
#4: Stress caused by changes
A dog experiencing changes in their lifestyle might become stressed.
This can happen due to:
- Moving house.
- Family members fighting.
- Introducing new family members or saying bye to old ones.
- Being left home alone throughout the day after the summer vacation.
- The dog parent working from home and suddenly going to work at an office.
- Someone from the family being rough with the dog – scolding and punishing them.
Changes of this kind can affect a dog’s comfort zone. Hence the dog will seek comfort in their trusted human whenever they can.
If your dog detects you’re sick, they’ll want to stay closer to you. That’s because they perceive you as weaker during that time. And they want to offer you comfort and protection.
Similarly, if they’re sick, they’ll expect the same of you.
The older your dog gets, the more dependent they’ll become on you. So it’s no surprise that they’ll stick by your side and request your comforting presence.
Especially when their senses start deteriorating. If your dog is losing their eyesight, hearing, or sense of smell, they’ll feel vulnerable.
And they’ll need your guidance.
Another possibility is that ever since your dog got older, they’ve grown even closer to you.
“But why?”, you might ask.
Simple. Your dog has now more time to stay by your side. Previously they were bursting with energy. And they couldn’t wait to go outside and sniff the environment, make friends and have fun.
Now, they’d rather chill and feel your touch, breath, and love. Having you around gives them a great sense of security. They know they can trust you and rely on you to help them in a time of need.
Dogs with reduced eyesight will benefit from a guiding touch of what way to walk. Otherwise, they might start bumping into furniture. Which is painful as it is, but can turn into hell for a dog with arthritis.
Then there’s also…
Dementia (a.k.a Canine Cognitive Dysfunction)
This is the dog version of Alzheimer’s.
And I don’t mean to scare you, but…
Dementia can be one of the toughest life stages your dog goes through. Not only for them but also for you. It’s hard seeing your once healthy and full of energy dog in this state.
What I mean is confused and frightened.
That’s because dementia affects:
- The functions of the body in general.
According to research, 60% of dogs aged above 11 years old will get dementia.
But don’t despair…
There’s good news as well. Namely that the process of dementia can be slowed down.
Signs of dementia include:
- Loss of memory.
- Drinking and eating less.
- Not reacting to commands.
- Getting lost in a familiar environment.
- Separation anxiety due to fear of being left alone.
- Becoming restless at night and sleeping during the day.
Reading Tip: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is So Restless At Night + 9 Tips
Note: Dogs with dementia can even forget who their dog parent is and act grumpy towards them. But if they remember you, they might stick to your side to cope with the general confusion they’re experiencing.
Research found out that some dogs who are in pain will try to hide it. They’d usually do so if they’re stressed. Another reason they mask their pain is to avoid physical contact.
But in other cases, a dog in pain might want to be closest to the ones they trust. Meaning, you. They might lick you or nose you but will not allow hugs or cuddles as these will hurt.
What’s more, a dog in great pain will likely start showing some additional signs. Simply because it becomes unbearable.
Some signs of pain in dogs include:
- Hunched posture.
#8: Puppy clinginess
Puppies resemble children in the sense of being overly-affectionate when smaller. Then, as they grow up, they become independent. But after a while, they may become affectionate again.
Take this as a compliment. It means that you have raised your dog with love and affection.
And as your dogchild grows up, they understand how much you mean to them. And want to show you and strengthen your bond.
#9: It’s shedding time
Some dogs will become overly-affectionate when shedding. They would want to get belly rubs and ear scratches. Plus some grooming.
Once the shedding period is over, they’ll go back to being themselves.
#10: Something’s changed
Have you moved houses? Had a new baby? Maybe said goodbye to someone from the family?
Then your dog might be distressed about whatever it is that has happened. At the time of adjusting to this change, they’ll need your support more than ever.
If there’s a new baby or another pet, for example, the dog might feel like they’re losing your attention. And perceive the newcomer as competition.
Hence, your pooch could become clingier and pushy in order to get some belly rubs, ear scratches, or cuddles.
All in all, there are two outcomes when such a change happens. Either the dog becomes anxious or they start fishing for attention.
Some dogs have a hard time coping with their dog parents’ absence. As a result, they develop separation anxiety.
What distresses these dogs is the sharp difference between the feelings they have while their human is home and away.
Let’s say that while you’re at home, you give your dog all the attention you can. Your dog has no shortage of cuddles, scratches, and petting.
But… at some point, you leave them all alone. And they’re puzzled.
“What does this mean?”, your dog would ask if they could.
Since they’re unsure of what’s going on they start worrying. The pooch has no idea whether you’re leaving them for good or will come back.
#12: Your dog wants your attention… and knows how to get it
Dogs are smart creatures. They can adapt fast.
So your dog may start being affectionate in exchange for attention. If you then give it to them, they’ll start using this approach more often to get what they want.
I get it. It’s hard to resist your dog’s affectionate gaze. That wagging tail. And the nose bumps they give you.
But if you’re working and your dog interrupts you, think twice before you start petting them. Talking to them. Or otherwise engaging with them.
Because by doing so you would be reinforcing the behavior.
Note: Your dog could also want to draw your attention to something they need. Such as food. Or water. Check they have the essentials before you engage in your chores.
In the age of entertainment, it’s a sin to be bored. That much is true for humans.
Our entertainment is often a click away. But when it comes to our dog children, it’s not as simple.
Look at it this way…
When you were a child, your entertainment relied mostly on your parents. It was up to them how much time you’d spend playing games (on your own or with friends) or studying.
Now that you’re an adult, at least age-wise, you’re the captain of your own entertainment fate. Nothing can stop you. Except for maybe work and some chores. Like I said, easy-peasy.
But your dog isn’t in the same boat as you.
While you’re enjoying yourself reading a book, playing a game on the PC, or chit-chatting with friends on the phone, your dog is bored out of their mind… Waiting for something, anything really, to happen.
If they’re a bit more confident, they might start asking for your attention. By nudging you with their moist nose. Or pawing at you. Maybe even by whining a bit.
All they’re trying to communicate to you is “Please, let’s do something, I’m going crazy!” Kind of what an energetic child would do if you leave them with nothing to do.
For a healthy, robust, playful dog having nothing to do equals punishment.
To get a better idea of how they might feel, imagine yourself with all the time in the world. And without any possibility to do any of the free-time activities you so much love doing.
#14: Your dog comes from a shelter
One thing you should know about shelter dogs is that some are prone to separation anxiety. This has to do with their history.
There are dogs who had a family previously but something has happened.
They could have been abandoned. Or may have gotten lost while unleashed, hearing fireworks or thunder, and trying to hide.
Severe cases include abused dogs. And ones that have been saved from life-threatening situations such as a fire or someone trying to drown them.
I have a friend whose German Shepherd got traumatized after a burglar entered their house. The German Shepherd was all alone at that time.
Ever since she developed separation anxiety. And doesn’t cope with being home alone.
Unfortunately, in my friend’s case, we cannot be sure what happened. And the same is true for many shelter dogs.
That’s why you need to prepare before taking a shelter dog. Be patient and give them time, space, and all the love they so much need.
#15: You have a dependent dog breed
Did you know that some dog breeds are more dependent than others?
The reason is that they were bred to work together with humans. Examples of such dogs include German Shepherds and Border Collies.
These pooches would pay attention to the cues of their dog parent’s body language. That’s how they’d do the job efficiently.
This dependency is also typical of companion dogs. Also called lap or toy dogs. Such as Pomeranians or Chihuahuas.
5 tips on what to do if your dog is overly-affectionate (all of a sudden)
Note: In case your dog doesn’t show any other weird behaviors along with being overly affectionate, you shouldn’t get too concerned.
That being said, let’s dive into the tips and see what you can do.
#1: Investigate and delegate
Maybe your dog has become more affectionate due to a natural reason. But what if a medical condition is causing this unexpected behavior?
Then you should waste no time. And get to the bottom of this by doing your homework before you turn to an expert for help.
This is how you can give the professional an accurate representation of what’s going on.
Consider these questions (and write down the answers):
- When did your dog start being overly-affectionate?
- Where did it happen – in an old, changed, or a new environment?
- Is there any accompanying behavior?
Once you’ve noted down the details, head to the vet. Or, ask a vet online here, if you can’t visit or talk to your personal one right away.
#2: Help your dog adjust to any life change
It’s best if you can introduce changes in your dog’s life slowly. Especially when talking about routine. Regardless of whether it’s about the feeding, walking, or sleeping schedule.
If you cannot do that, then consider this:
- Give them pheromones.
- Play soothing dog music.
- Tire your dog out by playing games.
- Get them supplements to help them relax.
- Give your dog an old cloth while leaving them alone.
- Provide mental stimulation by giving them food puzzles.
- Have a trusted person keep your dog company while you’re away.
#3: Teach your dog some neat words
According to Stanley Coren, dogs have the cognitive abilities of a child that’s between 2 and 2,5 years old. In his book The Intelligence of Dogs: Canine Consciousness and Capabilities,
Coren talks about 3 types of dog intelligence:
- Instinctive (the innate knowledge of what the dog’s supposed to do and what they’re bred for).
- Adaptive (what the dog can learn from their environment and add to their problem-solving skills).
- Working and obedience (which can be taught at dog school).
Besides that, Stanley found out that the average dog can learn about 165 words.
With this in mind, you can train your dog some basic words to help you understand each other better. For example:
The trick is to say the word you at the exact time of the action. So the dog makes the connection. Once your furry friend learns certain words, you’d be able to ask them whether that’s what they want.
My previous dog – Ejy, would get super excited whenever I said “Ejy, want a walk?” He, of course, wanted a walk. And to show me just how much he wanted it, he’d start barking, jumping, and spinning.
BONUS: Establish consistency
Being consistent is a must with dogs. It works wonders with training. But also with helping them adjust to a new routine, person, or environment.
The more consistency there is in a dog’s day, the sooner they will adapt to changes. And the less likely it’ll be that they develop separation anxiety.
The easiest way to do that would be to have a schedule. And stick to it.