You’re trying to get a few seconds of peace and quiet while you’re on the porcelain throne, but suddenly you feel something soft and furry at your feet. Now it’s licking your leg. Yep, that’s Lassie curling up in your pants. And while you love your dog to bits, the behavior is quite curious, after all, it’s not like you’re leaving the house, right? So, why do dogs follow you to the bathroom? We asked Dr. Crista Coppola, PhD, Certified Dog Behaviorist for SeniorTailWaggers.com for some answers.
There’s a Really Cute Reason Why Dogs Follow You to The Bathroom
Why do dogs follow you to the bathroom?
Simply put, your pup is following you to the bathroom because they can’t get enough of you. It’s like that one clingy ex-boyfriend, but without the incessant texting or never-ending FaceTimes. Oh, and they’re ten times more squishable. “The main reason dogs follow us to the bathroom is because they like to be where we are,” Dr. Coppola explains. “Dogs are obligate social animals, which means socialization is a genuinely natural behavior for them. This is part of what makes them such fantastically loyal companions.”
Sounds too good to be true? Well, the pros at Be Chewy point out the fact that dogs don’t even have a clue what a bathroom is or what it is we do in there, so their aim isn’t to just creepily watch you as you handle your business. They wholeheartedly want to be around you. Besides, you never know when a scary bathroom monster can attack, and in case that happens, your best bud is right there to protect you.
Should I be worried at all?
Overall, your dog being a stage-five clinger as you go number two is nothing you should be concerned with. It may get a little annoying, sure, but for the most part, it’s totally normal. However, if your pup seems genuinely distressed each time you decide to take a long bath, you may need to get them checked out by a vet or behaviorist. “Following you to the bathroom is not an indication of a serious condition all on its own,” says Dr. Coppola. “If your dog displays distress behaviors when separated from you, even for short periods of time like a bathroom break, this could be an indication of separation anxiety or separation distress.” Signs and symptoms of separation anxiety or distress include incessant whining, vocalizations, pacing, excessive licking, urination or defecation during your absence.
How do I get my dog to stop?
When there’s no underlying medical condition, you can simply train your dog to stay put when you want to dash to the bathroom. Dr. Coppola recommends implementing some differential reinforcement, where you provide your pup with reinforcement for staying and engaging with an item instead of accompanying you to the bathroom. Basically, give your dog something fun to engage with while you’re in the bathroom—a lick mat, for example—and pick it up when you get back. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s an activity or item that’ll last for the duration of your absence and it’s not something they won't just bring to the bathroom with them.
Honestly, though, it’s much easier to just let Lassie curl up by your feet as you pee. No harm, no foul.