If your Jack Russel constantly follows you around, you’ll probably either find it incredibly endearing or you’ll be very tired of practically tripping over them all the time. Either way, it’s helpful to understand some of the science behind why your dog might be at your side constantly.
Reinforcement – Often times, Jack Russels will follow their owners if they have a strong bond that has been reinforced over time. For example, if a Jack Russel learns that good things such as food and fun activities come from a given person, they may be more likely to follow that person.
Companionship – Perhaps the most obvious reason is that some Jack Russels simply prefer their owners’ companionship. Natural selection has shaped dogs through the process of domestication to become companions for humans. Domesticated dogs are now, in some ways, ‘bonded’ with humans in a similar way children are with their parents. Our bond in this sense is one that has evolved over the course of domestication which has taken quite some time.
Separation Anxiety – Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs get upset due to isolation from their owners. Separation anxiety in Jack Russels is often triggered unknowingly by dog owners. When we leave or come home, we might make a big fuss and, in so doing, we reward the concern of the dog with our absence, causing even more stress in them every time we leave.
How Does Following Me Benefit My Jack Russel?
With all the time your pet spends following you, you may wonder if their actually getting something good from all of it. The bond between humans and animals functions in both ways. When a dog spends time with a person, the dog is likely to come into contact with reinforcement— things like food rewards, petting, fun activities, and companionship.
Also, the time your dog spends studying your every move helps them to better understand you, which can help them interpret the meaning behind your actions better. It’s no wonder that dogs often look like they’re studying our movements, given all the research to support a unique adaptation to understand human gestures, language, and tone. They watch our every move to see if we ‘re giving them clues as to our intentions or to catch us communicating with them. In this way, they might anticipate when it’s time for a walk, or determine that it’s dinner time. In other words, they became experts at interpreting the human language— both physical and spoken.
What is the Human Benefit of My Jack Russel Following Me?
People benefit from being close to a dog, as well. A loving dog prevents loneliness and the owner can take advantage of the activity if a dog wants to play and exercise. Dogs who want to be close to us make us feel loved, and a healthy dose of unconditional love can benefit everyone. But when you’re close to your dog, it’s not just your feelings of affection that improve. A number of studies have shown that even brief interactions reduce anxiety and improve mood. Dogs can also improve our health — they improve the well-being of our heart, keep us exercising more regularly, reduce stress, and even help detect cancer-like diseases.
Moreover, the uncanny ability of dogs to display the understanding of our signals is the catalyst for our bonding with them, and maybe even why we have evolved to where we are today. Dogs are our ‘best friends’ because they understand us, and we are able to communicate. Many researchers believe it was this ability to understand our desires and wishes that helped mankind thrive during the agricultural revolution.
How Do I know If My Jack Russel’s Following Has Gone Too Far?
While it is healthy for a Jack Russel to look for commands and hints from its owner, it may be unhealthy when a dog can not stop following or looking at its owner. This is particularly worrying if the dog has chosen to interact with only one particular person and is fearful or avoids all other people. The dog may be improperly socialized in this case or may have been overly bonded to one person. These dogs run the risk of developing anxiety concerning social or separation, fear of aggression, or other behavioral problems.
If you think your dog may have anxiety when you’re not around, we recommend that you leave an interactive toy to help divert the attention of your dog from your absence or leave a radio or television on when you’re out of the house. If those distractions don’t work, you might try desensitization, a behavioral solution to separation anxiety. The owner should leave for a very short time before returning to the house. The length of time the owner is gone is then extended over many trials until hopefully your dog gets so used to the idea that you’re gone that it doesn’t bother them anymore.
What are some Indications of Separation Anxiety in Jack Russels?
Aggression – Depending on the situation, aggression can be by far the most dangerous symptom of dog anxiety and can be targeted directly or indirectly. Direct aggression occurs when a dog aggressively acts towards humans or other animals. Indirect aggression can be equally dangerous and often occurs when a person comes between the dog and the dog’s source of aggression, like another dog. Even if a dog is prevented from harming others, aggressive behaviors like howling or barking can lead to more serious human and dog situations.
Urinating and defecating in the house – This is a common side effect of separation anxiety. Often, anxious dogs work themselves to the point where they pee or poop in the house, even if they’re housebroken This is irritating for owners since it may cause property damage, not to mention the cleanup’s unpleasant.
Destructive behavior – This is also common with anxiety regarding separation. The damage is usually found around points of entry and exit, such as doorways and windows, but dogs in a state of increased anxiety are also at risk of harming themselves. Attempts to break away from dog crates, windows, and even doors can lead to painful injuries and expensive veterinary treatments.
Depression – It’s not uncommon for Jack Russels to feel down, especially during periods of change, but long-term depression is rare for dogs. Symptoms of dog depression are very similar to those in humans; they become withdrawn, inactive, and often change their eating and sleeping habits and do not participate in the things they once enjoyed.