Dogs are inherently sociable creatures, and odds are that your dog regards you as the pack’s leader, so it’s only normal for your canine companion to want to be by your side whenever you are around. Dogs are our greatest buddies, and studies have shown that individuals who own dogs are often healthier and happier than those who do not.
Many dog breeds—particularly small dogs such as Frenchies, Chihuahuas, and Jack Russells—are especially fond of following their owners (or pet parents) around everywhere. This following behavior is also known as shadowing. But why do dogs do that? Why does your Jack Russell follow you everywhere?
There are numerous reasons for a Jack Russell’s shadowing behavior or why your Jack Russell constantly follows you. The most common reasons are the following:
- Following the Leader
- Genetic Conditioning
- Avoiding Letting You Leave
- Separation Anxiety
Read on as we discuss all of these reasons in more detail.
Reasons for Jack Russell Shadowing Behavior
There are quite a few reasons why your Jack Russell Terrier is following you around. Here are nine of those reasons to help you give a better idea of what may be contributing to your Jack Russell’s shadowing behavior.
For some of us, we may be the only actual company our Jack Russell has on a daily basis, and this often means we are the primary focus of our pet’s interest due to this. Because we have such a deep relationship with our pets, they want our friendship and companionship on a regular basis.
During the course of their domestication, canines’ relationship with the people in their lives became a top priority for them, especially since they’re such social creatures. While we humans may have a variety of different relationships and opportunities for contact with others at work, school, or at social events, our dogs—especially Jack Russells—consider us to be the center of their universes. They also just seem to like being in our company.
This closeness and connection between dog and pet parent become a vital aspect of our everyday lives and routines. Sometimes, it’s just wonderful to have a Jack Russell who follows you about and makes you feel wanted and cherished, and these dogs are happy to oblige the need for companionship.
We all know that a Jack Russell Terrier is always on the lookout for new methods to occupy and entertain itself.
If your four-legged friend starts sticking to you out of nowhere, it’s probably searching for some entertainment because it’s bored with its current situation. Following you around in its boredom raises the likelihood that something unique may occur.
3. Following the Leader
Jack Russells not only learn from explicit training, but they also learn about things and how to behave based on our conduct in their vicinity. Especially when there are numerous people in a home, a Jack Russell will soon figure out who is the one who primarily serves and plays with him or who is the one who is most likely to snuggle with him. Your Jack Russell will follow you because he doesn’t want to miss out on any unique activities or food possibilities you could offer!
As a result, it comes to reason that if one person is more involved in the care of a Jack Russell, he will develop a stronger attachment to them. Our actions serve to reinforce what our canine pets are learning, and they have an impact on whether your Jack Russell deems you worth following around when desired. Jack Russells have motivations that are comparable to those of a toddler who knows exactly which adult to approach in order to acquire what they want.
4. Genetic Conditioning
Over time, we humans have tamed and bred Jack Russells to become our best friends and lifelong companions. It’s in their genes to be interested in everything we do, and they often don’t know how to stop themselves.
Because humanity’s attachment to canines has grown over time, most canine companions are now treated nearly like children. This is particularly true, too, if you adopted your Jack Russell while he or she was very young. Raising a pup with the level of attention given to human babies is nearly guaranteed to cause them to attach strongly to you and constantly want to follow your around as they grow earlier.
A Jack Russell will form strong attachments to and imprint on the individuals with which they have the most direct contact. Especially if you got your dog as a puppy, the effect will likely be considerably more noticeable.
It’s possible that your dog shows some of the same behaviors as a human youngster that follows his or her parent around all the time. To grab your attention, your Jack Russell will beg, follow you so closely that you may accidentally run him over with your foot, cry when you are out of reach (e.g., behind a closed door), or seek to interrupt everything you’re doing in order to obtain your attention.
Having a Jack Russell knock your hand off of your laptop keyboard while you’re working in order to get you to pat him is an example of typical attention-seeking behavior, and they may use plenty of other methods to make sure you’re showering them with words and physical affection.
6. Avoiding Letting You Leave
The longer your Jack Russell follows you around and monitors every action you make, the more he will be able to comprehend you. Jack Russells learn to recognize and comprehend our emotions and moods quite well. On top of this, they also eventually learn that certain behaviors and certain body gestures may indicate a specific meaning via repetition.
If you have a morning routine that you follow every day before leaving for work, your Jack Russell will learn to correlate specific actions with the likelihood that you will be going shortly. Once your Jack Russell has learned the signals of impending departure, you may notice that he hangs to you even more tightly and becomes your shadow.
Jack Russells, like toddlers, have a natural curiosity for learning about practically everything. Since he doesn’t want to miss out on anything, your Jack Russell may decide to follow you around all the time to see what is going on.
Interactions with our pets are a never-ending trip of discovery for both humans and pets, so when you are attempting to unpack a shopping bag, you will probably find your Jack Russell putting his nose exactly where you are operating, preventing you from completing the task. By snooping around and inspecting everything that you do, your Jack Russell often just wants to be aware of what is taking place.
Jack Russells usually create many happy memories for their parents and bring plenty of joy, so they are often awarded for their persistent devotion. Reinforcement means that we simply reward their positive behaviors with meaty treats or presents, and they, in return, reward our friendship with pleasurable activities.
For Jack Russells, there’s nothing better than jumping in the car or going for a walk in the outdoors. They also know that we reward them well when they are out with us and they’re on good behavior. After learning that you are a provider of all things enjoyable, it is only natural for your best buddy to follow you around everywhere in the hopes of obtaining some of this praise and positive reinforcement.
9. Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is another reason why your Jack Russell may not allow you to leave his sight at any time of the day. Separation anxiety is triggered whenever you and your dog are separated for a significant amount of time; but for some dogs, it can even occur in short periods of time as well. As a result, some Jack Russells become quite sad when you leave them, and others may even feel unhappy when they watch you leave or pack your belongings.
In some cases, some Jack Russells will even attempt to prevent you from leaving. Jack Russells suffering from separation anxiety may start crying, howling, or showing other disruptive behaviors after only a short period of time of being left alone in the house. As soon as you get home, your they will start leaping around the house, pretending that they haven’t seen you in months or even years, and your dog will intensely become your shadow for the next little while until that anxiety passes and they feel confident you’ll be home for a bit.
Why would my Jack Russell benefit from following me?
With all of the time your Jack Russell spends following you around, you might question if they are benefiting from this behavior. The link that exists between people and Jack Russells is reciprocal in nature. The more time a Jack Russell spends with a person, the greater the likelihood that he will come into contact with some type of positive reinforcement. These are things like food incentives, stroking and petting, enjoyable activities, and companionship—all of which benefit them.
Additionally, the time your Jack Russell spends watching your every move allows them to have a deeper understanding of you and your habits and preferences, and this allows them to grasp the meaning of your actions better. The fact that canines have developed such a unique ability to recognize and interpret human actions, words, and tones is no surprise considering the amount of research that has been done to support this hypothesis.
Canines closely monitor each action to see if we’re giving them any hints about our goals or if we’re interacting with them in any way. They will often be able to predict when it is time to go for an exercise or when it is time to eat supper after being around their owner or pet parent long enough. They basically become professionals at deciphering and interpreting human communication, both physical and verbal.
What is the best way to tell if my Jack Russell’s following has gotten out of hand?
Even though it is beneficial for a Jack Russell to watch for indications and listen for orders from its parent, it may be detrimental when a Jack Russell is unable to stop following or staring at its owner very often.
For a Jack Russell that has decided to engage with only one human and who is scared of or shuns all other people, this is highly concerning. In this scenario, it is possible that the Jack Russell was not adequately socialized or that he had simply become unduly attached to one human. These Jack Russells are at risk of developing social or separation anxiety, aggressive behavior, and other behavioral issues.
If you believe your Jack Russell may be anxious while you are not there, experts propose that you leave an engaging toy behind to assist in redirecting your dog’s focus away from your absence or that you keep a radio or television on while you are out of the home to provide distraction. The owner (or pet parent) should only leave the house for a short period of time before returning. The amount of time you are absent should then be gradually increased over time until your Jack Russell becomes accustomed to the idea that you are away, nothing horrible happens, and eventually, it does not notice your absence.
What can I do to encourage my Jack Russell to be more independent and leave my side?
To assist your Jack Russell in becoming more independent, separate from you, and gain some self-confidence, there are various methods you may try.
1. Set some limits for yourself
If you want your Jack Russell not to follow you around all the time, it’s necessary to teach him that the world will not come to an end if you are out of his sight for any length of time. You can accomplish this by establishing limits.
For example, closing the door when you walk to the restroom or to another room and then returning within just a few minutes is considered acceptable practice at teaching this concept. Your Jack Russell will learn that you haven’t abandoned them after a period of time just because they can’t see you. This training may take some time, but it’s a gradual process and very often is quite successful.
2. Make your Jack Russell more social with other people
Demonstrating to your Jack Russell that other humans are just as kind as you will aid in their detachment from you. Feeding, playing, training, and walking your Jack Russell should be done by someone other than you sometimes to allow your dog to bond with the other individuals in your home as well. Even if you live alone, you can invite relatives, friends, or neighbors over to have fun with your dog and engage with them.
3. Refrain from rewarding destructive actions or behaviors
When afraid or stressed, Jack Russells may do anything to seek your attention, including whimpering and resorting to inappropriate defecation in the house. One technique to cure this behavior is to refuse to reward your Jack Russell when he exhibits needy behavior in these ways.
If you go out of the house and your Jack Russell begins to cry, don’t praise or reward the behavior by consoling him or providing any form of attention. Providing positive reinforcement for bad actions will simply reinforce attention-seeking and destructive behaviors.
4. Avoid adoring your Jack Russell excessively
It’s okay if you don’t speak to your Jack Russell all of the time or if you don’t offer him constant attention and snuggling. Providing your pup with autonomous hobbies, such as chew toys or doggie puzzles, when you are at home can help him keep himself entertained while you are away as well.
By using this tactic, your Jack Russell will learn to busy himself with the same activities when you’re away on vacation or business as you’re teaching him to do when home and needing a moment to yourself.
5. Desensitize your Jack Russell
If you own a shadowing Jack Russell, it’s possible that they may even eventually figure out how to obtain your car keys or other necessary items you need to leave the home, and this can create a huge problem for you. To make things less unpleasant for both you and your Jack Russell when needing to leave, you should try to desensitize your pup to the event.
You can desensitize your Jack Russell by not making leaving such a big issue. To do this, you should simply take your car keys, put on your coat, and grab your bag multiple times during the course of a day without ever leaving your house or office. Your Jack Russell will finally learn to stop linking these activities with your departure and will no longer respond as intensely when you leave.
6. Consult with a canine behaviorist
If you have tried everything to stop your Jack Russell from following you around the house and becoming anxious when you are gone or want to leave the home, you should consult a canine behaviorist for assistance. Veterinarians specializing in animal behavior can provide you with tools and counseling to assist you and your Jack Russell in working together more effectively to resolve any behavioral concerns.
What is it about Jack Russells that makes them gaze at you?
Jack Russells gaze at their owners with sincere dedication and affection to convey these strong feelings towards them. A Jack Russell’s loyalty is innate, and their entire universe revolves around their human partner. If you’re the pet parent to one of these pups, they will nearly always look at you with admiration and love in their eyes.
Does Jack Russells enjoy being petted?
Yes. They are companion dogs, and they love being petted. They behave in much the same way as any other dog breed.
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Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.