So your German Shorthaired Pointer is a little clingier than you thought they’d be, and now you’re wondering if it’s normal or if you just have a particularly attached pup. Essentially, what you’re wondering is ‘Is a GSP a Velcro dog?’.
And the answer to that question is yes, they are. In order to understand that some more, we’re going to look at what being a Velcro dog means and what makes a dog a Velcro dog.
So, stick around and I’ll tell you everything I’ve learned over the years living with Hank, my very own Velcro GSP!
What Is A Velcro Dog?
A Velcro dog is a dog that’s more than just affectionate. All dogs love spending time with their owners, but Velcro dogs seem to live for it. That’s definitely the case with my Hank.
When I first picked him up and his attachment to me grew, I started to wonder whether it was normal too.
Surely not all German Shorthaired Pointers can be like this, right? After a little research though, I started to see that yes, they really can be!
Let’s take a look at some of the key signs that your dog is a Velcro dog:
- They always want to be around you.
- They’re constantly wherever the action is.
- They move the moment you do.
- They seem to watch you. Constantly.
- They become anxious when you aren’t around
Sound familiar? You probably have a Velcro dog, but let’s look at that a little more.
A Velcro dog wants to be with their owners 24/7 and often get separation anxiety when they aren’t with them.
This can manifest itself in lots of ways, such as behavioral issues, including destroying furniture, poor bladder control, and barking whenever you leave them alone for any amount of time.
I know with Hank it took a lot of training to make him comfortable being left alone, and it distressed him as a puppy if I just went to the bathroom without him.
I’ll give you some tips about how to manage a Velcro dog later on in this post, but first let’s look at why some dogs are Velcro dogs at all.
What Makes A Dog A Velcro Dog?
I can’t speak for all dogs here because my research and experiences all lie with GSPs, but I can definitely tell you why GSPs are a Velcro dog.
It comes from the history of the breed. If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, then you’ll know that GSPs were bred as working and hunting dogs.
Their primary purpose was to work with humans and naturelly, a dog that was more readily attached to a human’s side was more favored as a working dog.
GSPs with these traits were then bred more and more until eventually almost every GSP became known for their ability to stick close to humans and work with them as a team.
Not everybody uses German Shorthairs for hunting these days, but that innate ability to form an attachment with and stick close to humans made them so great at their jobs.
These traits have passed down through generations, so the GSPs we keep as family pets and hunting dogs now still act in much the same way as they did back then.
It’s useful in the context of a working dog, to have a dog who doesn’t stray far from their owners.
And given that they were working dogs, they never had to stray far because when their owners went to work, so did they.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for most GSPs today, and they will need to be left alone for at least short periods of time throughout the day.
Let’s face it, you can’t take your dog with you everywhere you go, however much we might want to.
Over the years, I’ve managed to work with Hank until he became used to me being away from him, and there are things you can do that will stop him from feeling anxious when you’re not around.
Think about it, your GSPs nature is telling them to attach themselves to a human-like glue, and never leave their side.
So if you’re going to leave them for any amount of time alone, you need to teach them that it’s OK, and you will be back.
If you want to learn how to manage your Velcro GSP, then read on, because I’ve picked up some great tips and tricks that have helped Hank get over his natural Velcro personality.
How To Manage Your Velcro GSP
There are several things you can do to help ease the anxiety of your Velcro GSP, but remember too, that not all GSPs will act in this way to begin with, so watch your dog for signs of distress as you leave them to determine whether your GSP needs some additional support like my Hank did.
If you decide they need help, then try these few tips and tricks to ease it. After doing these, Hank doesn’t feel anxious when left alone because he’s learned I’ll always come back!
To finish this post, here are all the ways you can help relieve Velcro syndrome in your GSP.
Tire Them Out
It’s my go-to solution to most things Hank-related, and it works just as well when I’m going to leave him alone.
A big walk beforehand and lots of exercise tires him out and then he doesn’t care where I go or what I’m doing because all he wants is rest.
Remember, GSPs are high energy, so help them burn it off in the right way so they don’t burn it off worrying where you are when you leave.
Train It Out Of Them
Stay. Follow. Halt. These are all things you can do to train them that being physically apart from you isn’t the end of the world.
Increase the distance over time until eventually you can walk clear across a field before they move.
This teaches them that being away from you isn’t a negative experience, and they might even get a little treat now and then when you reunite!
Play Games That Rely On Distance
Hank loves fetch, but he didn’t always. You have to teach them that the distance between you is OK, and they can still have a lot of fun even if they aren’t glued to your side.
Make being apart from you a fun game, so they get used to it in a positive way.
Give them a ‘space’ in your home
This is so important. It doesn’t have to be an entire room or anything as large as that, but having a designated space that is theirs is good.
For me, it’s just Hank’s bed. He knows he can go there whenever he likes and he’ll see me again when he’s ready. This bed from Amazon is highly rated and a great choice for GSPs as they love to cuddle so much.
Encouraging him to stay in his bed away from me overnight was difficult at first, but now he barely opens an eyelid as I leave him alone in another room so I can climb into my bed away from him.
Keep Them Busy
This last point is important too. Most dogs will follow you around in the house because they’re looking for direction.
It’s what Hank and other GSPs like him are looking for, because years ago they’d be given task after task as a working dog.
By keeping them busy with a chew toy or different games, you can go about your business without being distracted by them every five minutes or risk breaking your neck as you stand up without realizing they’re right under your feet.
Thanks for that by the way Hank, really appreciate all the near misses buddy!