Everyone knows that when you own a dog, there are few places you have any privacy from their sweet faces but have you ever wondered why this includes the bathroom? It is quite an awkward stare down as they follow you in, but love, anxiety, and curiosity are a few reasons as to why it happens. These will lead to a better understanding and healthier relationship with you and your furry friend.
1. Dogs have a pack mentality
Pack Mentality is a structured dynamic within a family with an Alpha as the leader and the others as dominant or submissive. We all know wolves live in packs and before our beloved American Bulldogs and Siberian Huskies were domesticated, they too mostly lived in packs. Did your dog descend from a pack dog? You can find out by doing a dog DNA test and there are many options for you to better know your dog including Wisdom Panel.
In our household, a dog should see us as the Alpha and know that we are the leader and in charge, but this also means they follow us wherever we go. Now dogs know that a human is not a dog. We do not smell like dogs (most of us anyway), look like dogs, act like dogs and we especially cannot bark, but they respect us. In a single dog home, there will always be a human alpha. In a multiple-dog home, there is an alpha dog for dog activities but the human is still seen as the leader of the pack. We are in charge of the dog being on furniture or not, where they can sleep and we set the feeding schedule. This helps us to be in control of our dog and they realize we are in charge.
Just like in a wolf pack they want to follow and protect the alpha because without them they would be lost. A pack mentality can make dogs feel vulnerable and alone so they have a need to follow us most of the time. They love us and because they love us this includes them following us into our bathroom during a private time.
2. Your Dog is Guarding You
Since we are seen as the “Alpha Dog” in our household, dogs have an overwhelming feeling to protect us, especially at our most vulnerable. Dogs are intuitive and they know that our bathroom time is when we have our guard down. Ever wonder why dogs stare at us as they poop outside? Well, it is the same concept. They follow and stare at us so we can protect them because they feel vulnerable while they go to the bathroom. They don’t want us to be attacked nor do they want to be attacked. Getting caught in the potty act would only be worse if something came to spook us. People underestimate just how smart dogs really are.
They say curiosity kills the cat, well a dog’s curiosity can lead them into the bathroom. Dogs love to constantly know what is going on, they are always at your feet and follow you around. This isn’t always a behavior known as separation anxiety, just pure puppy love.
Curiosity is a good thing and is a sign of healthy and social well-being. Dogs who explore have use of all their senses, including smell, which might be another reason they enjoy the bathroom so much. Exploring familiar areas like the family bathroom allows a dog to cope much easier when going into new areas perhaps outside or into another house.
Curiosity is natural and a dog who isn’t curious may be insecure and other problems may arise such as separation anxiety. Dogs are born social and when they feel overwhelmed or unsafe they become more alert of their surroundings but less curious. This puts constant stress and pressure on the dog.
4. Separation Anxiety
Although you are seen as the “Alpha” there might be more going on with your dog. When you go to the bathroom and leave your dog outside the door do they pace, cry, or scratch? Do they defecate or urinate, or bark? This could be Separation Anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety become agitated and hate being away from their guardians. Going to the bathroom may seem like a quick pitstop for you, but to your dogs, it can feel like abandonment.
Dog experts are not entirely sure what can cause separation anxiety to develop but there are certain triggers. These triggers can include: Change in family, change in schedule, the sudden absence of a family member, and moving to a new home. It is also believed that dogs who were surrendered and then adopted from shelters suffer from separation anxiety more than dogs who were kept by a single family since puppyhood.
There are ways to treat separation anxiety so that you are able to use the bathroom in peace. You can crate train, use their favorite toys to help them feel more relaxed, or introduce medications that may work too! What not to do is scold your dogs for this behavior. This anxiety is a result of distress and adding more distress can only further the problem.
5. Special Attention
How can you resist such a cute face following you to the bathroom? Most people cannot which is where the problem may stem from as well. If you are rewarding your dog with pets, treats, or playtime while they are in the bathroom with you then they obviously LOVE bathroom time with their human! They know that they get all your love and more when they sit down next to the toilet. They do not see this as a serious or non-play area. Encouraging this behavior only makes it harder for you to do your business alone when you really need to. Instead, try rewarding them for waiting outside or give them a Kong stuffed with a treat or peanut butter to distract them so you can have uninterrupted alone time. Distraction is better than scolding. Your dog loves you and having a dog means a constant companion so setting boundaries when they are a puppy or training them can benefit you and them. It is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks no matter what they say.
Let’s give you a big round of AP-PAWS, you made it to the end!
Now you know why your dog likes to accompany you to the loo. Highlighted above are some excellent sources for more information and help you get inside your dog’s head. Whether it is in your dog’s DNA to follow the leader, a protectiveness over you in a vulnerable state, curiosity as to why you aren’t pottying in the yard, or separation anxiety making a second away from you impossible, this article helped you to understand why. You may enjoy the company your dog brings you in the bathroom. It is better than scrolling or reading shampoo bottles but it can also be irritating as they scratch your legs for pets and stare at you without even blinking.
These are all insightful reasons as to why your dog follows you but you can not forget that separation anxiety can be detrimental to your dogs’ health. If this article helped you realize your dog may be suffering you should take your dog to the vet and figure out the best way to deal with it. Your dogs’ health is vital and when something is off they will act out which in turn can make you upset as well. A constant state of tension between the two of you can cause more stress than necessary. We all love our dogs and we want them to be in tip-top shape.