Flush Out Why Your Dog Always Follows You to the Bathroom

Does your dog love being your bathroom sidekick? Don't worry — it's not wasted love. (Pun intended!) We've flushed out 7 reasons your dog might be doing it.

Published January 5, 2024
Cute english bulldog peeking trough bathroom door

It’s so hard to find time for yourself as a pet parent when your dog follows you everywhere, including the bathroom. And if you try to sneak in there alone, they’re scratching at the bathroom door while you’re trying to chill out. But why are some dogs so obsessed with following you to the bathroom?

So Why Do Dogs Follow Us to the Bathroom?

There are a few reasons for this behavior, and once you get to know the reasons, you might be thinking, ‘eh, it’s okay, I guess.’ Or you can use the reasons to effectively problem-solve and curb the behavior. #BathroomAloneTimeUnlocked

1. Your Dog is Protecting You

Following you to the bathroom could be in their DNA. They feel the instinctive need to protect you, right? Part of protecting you is not letting you out of their sight, even if it means following you into the next room. Plus, if you’re not paying attention to your surroundings, you’re seen as being super vulnerable to predators. They don’t want their favorite buddy in the world to get hurt or eaten! 

2. They're Being Your Social Shadow

If you’re familiar with the dog world, you probably know dogs are insanely social animals. Well, most breeds anyway. Most dogs want to spend as much time as possible with their pet parents. And, well, that kind of means they’re going to follow you everywhere. 

Some breeds are more attached than others, though. Breeds like the shiba inu and greyhounds love you, but they’re more independent than most other breeds. Then you have breeds like golden retrievers and vizslas who tend to be on the “let’s follow you everywhere" train. 

3. Your Leaving Triggers Separation Anxiety

Some dogs experience separation anxiety, and that’s why they follow you to the bathroom every single time. Yes, just the move from the living room to the bathroom could trigger this fear. Even though you know exactly where you’re going, your dog doesn’t. And they want to make sure you’re not about to head out the door without them by your side.

4. Your Dog May Be Scared 

If your dog is afraid of something going on, like thunderstorms, they might feel like they’re the ones who need protection now. You’re their safe place, and as long as they’re afraid, they’re going to be attached to you like Velcro. You're the head of the pack, and they know you'll protect them like they protect you. 

5. Your Dog is Being Nosy

Curiosity killed the cat — or did they mess that up? Shouldn’t it be a dog? Either way, dogs are curious creatures and want to know everything you’re doing in the world. Why would you move to another room when they’re right there next to you? They’ll need to check out why you're interested in going somewhere else.

6. You're Accidentally Reinforcing the Behavior 

If you consistently give your dog attention during your bathroom visits, it's highly likely that they keep following you into this private space because you're reinforcing their behavior. Each time you engage with them, whether it's through petting, talking, or even making eye contact while you're in the bathroom, your dog interprets this as a positive response to their actions. This reinforcement encourages them to repeat the behavior, expecting similar interactions in the future.

How to Stop Your Shadow From Following You to the Bathroom

If it’s driving you absolutely crazy and you need your pup to stop following you to the bathroom, you can take action once you figure out what’s causing the behavior. But understanding the cause is key first, so you're not inadvertently reinforcing the behavior.

1. Offer a Soothing Voice

For dogs that crave social interaction, even brief periods of separation, like a bathroom visit, can be distressing. Providing reassurance through calm, soothing words or gentle pets before you step away can help alleviate their anxiety. This reassurance helps them understand that your absence is temporary and not a cause for concern.

2. Don't Make a Fuss

For other dogs, not making a big deal out of getting up and walking in the bathroom could make a difference. For example, don’t say “I’ll see you soon” and pat them on the forehead. Your dog could see that as you leaving them and immediately get anxious. Just get up out of your chair and casually walk to the bathroom. 

3. Consider Adopting a Companion 

An Irish wolfhound and a white Poodle are face-to-face in a domestic room

If you have been contemplating another dog, this could be a huge help if your dog follows you literally everywhere you go. The other dog may keep them company while you’re busy doing other things. This can be particularly effective for dogs that thrive on social interactions with other animals.

Quick Tip

Carefully consider the responsibilities associated with caring for another dog prior to bringing one home, along with how well your dog gets along with others.

4. Keeping Your Body Guard Distracted

Keeping your dog distracted may also help. Give your dog something to do before you head over to the bathroom. A treat puzzle, snuffle mat, or Kong filled with one of their favorite snacks could give you plenty of time to find some personal space.

5. Don’t Pay Attention As You Leave

Simply don’t pay attention to them being there. As a canine behaviorist, I have had tons of cases where pet parents wonder why they’re dog is doing “x” behavior. What they didn’t know is that by giving attention, even if it’s bad attention, they’re reinforcing the behavior. That tells your dog that if they do that thing over and over again, you’ll be more likely to focus on them. 

6. Utilize Positive Reinforcement Training 

Training and conditioning can play a huge role in helping your dog become more independent. Gradual training that involves leaving your dog alone for short periods and slowly increasing the duration can help them learn that being alone is safe and nothing to fear. This approach, combined with positive reinforcement when they remain calm during your absence, can gradually reduce their reliance on your presence for comfort.

Make a Decision

Now that you know why your dog is following you to the bathroom, you’ll need to decide which route you want to take. If you are in dire need of a solo bathroom break, it may take a little while, but your dog will get used to you going in there alone. But if you’re okay with it now that you know the reasons, you have a furry best friend to keep you company for the rest of their lifetime. 

Flush Out Why Your Dog Always Follows You to the Bathroom