Alaskan Malamutes are affectionate dogs that love human company. However, there are times when they can become too needy.
So, why is your Alaskan Malamute clingy?
Let’s look at the reasons why your Alaskan Malamute is clingy and what you can do to reduce your Alaskan Malamute’s clinginess.
Why Is My Alaskan Malamute So Clingy?
Alaskan Malamutes become clingy or needy due to separation anxiety, underlying illness, a female’s behavior during her heat cycle, old age, stress and trauma, insufficient enrichment, attention-seeking and learned behavior.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Clingy?
No, generally Alaskan Malamute are devoted but not clingy. They often bond strongly with their families, however, they are not clingy, compared to other dog breeds that have extra clingy personalities. Although they are more independent dogs, they love to be around people and make great companion dogs.
Signs of clinginess in an Alaskan Malamute
It can be sometimes difficult to differentiate between typical affectionate Alaskan Malamute behavior and clinginess. The common signs of an overly clingy Alaskan Malamute include:
- Following you everywhere
- Crying or whining constantly to get attention
- Wanting to constantly sit with you
- Refusing to eat when you’re not around
- Destructive behavior when you are away
- Overexcitement when you return home
- Demanding affection when you are doing something
Why Your Alaskan Malamute Is so Clingy
An Alaskan Malamute with separation anxiety becomes clingy or attached to its owner by remaining close to them.
They become very anxious when they sense a separation from their owners and are usually overly excited when the owner returns home.
Alaskan Malamutes are very susceptible to separation anxiety because they are people-oriented dogs that thrive on human companionship. This means that they love being close to their human owners and family.
When separated from their owners, they tend to suffer from separation anxiety by feeling insecure.
This is accompanied by other behaviors that include pacing, whining, and destructive behavior such as digging, or defecation in the house.
Illness can cause a Malamute to become clingy by becoming close to you to seek safety, comfort, and help. In some cases, a Malamute can be aggressive due to the discomfort and pain felt by avoiding being touched.
If your Alaskan Malamute is clingy due to illness, you may also notice other signs of sickness such as loss of appetite, weakness, or pain.
Look out for these symptoms and more unusual behavior changes which can be indicative that your Alaskan Malamute is unwell.
Clingy behavior during a female’s heat cycle
A female Malamute in heat displays clingy behavior due to the increase in hormones. This is a stage of her reproductive cycle where she can get pregnant.
This behavior is often seen during the first half of the heat cycle and can last for up to two weeks. She will follow you around more than usual, seek out physical contact, and become agitated when left alone.
This clinginess is normal and is not indicative of any health problems. The behavior is also temporary and she returns to her normal self after her heat cycle ends.
However, if the behavior persists after the heat cycle has ended, it is worth consulting a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Old age affects the cognitive ability of a Malamute, which means they slowly lose mental processes such as attention, perception, memory, and other functions.
An old Alaskan Malamute will become clingy because of this cognitive dysfunction. They become attached to you for guidance due to the loss of these functions as they age.
Stress and trauma
A stressed dog will try to find comfort in you by being unusually attached to you. Stress can come from environmental triggers such as loud noises, changes in their routine, or home environment.
You can identify stress as the cause of the attachment by taking note of when the clinginess occurs, that is, if it is triggered by events or situations in the home or your dog’s environment.
Trauma experienced by an Alaskan Malamute can also cause them to become clingy. Trauma can cause stress which can stem from mistreatment from previous owners or early separation from their littermates.
Alaskan Malamutes require mental and physical stimulation to be healthy and well-rounded. If they do not have these, they get bored and have nothing to do and instead will tend to get attached to their owner.
Boredom also encourages an Alaskan Malamute to engage in destructive behavior such as digging, chewing, or garbage raiding.
An Alaskan Malamute can be so clingy when seeking attention from you. Dogs try to get our attention when they need something from us or our undivided attention.
An attention-seeking Alaskan Malamute will cry, bark, paw, or follow you everywhere to get your attention so that you might focus on them.
Clinginess can also be due to learned behavior whereby your Malamute got used to being quite close to you all the time.
This means that there is a chance you inadvertently encouraged their behavior by having them be with you all the time and did not train them on being separated or having alone time.
This also includes constant kissing, cuddling, praising, and having no boundaries for when they can be with you such as on your bed or in every room in your home.
Therefore your dog got used to being clingy and attached.
Do Alaskan Malamutes get attached to one person?
While Alaskan Malamute can form strong bonds with all members of their family, they may be particularly attached to one person. The contributing factors include socialization, attention, positive association, and a person’s personality. These solidify the bond between the dog and a family member, which makes them become more attached to one person.
While they may have a special bond with one person, Alaskan Malamutes are still social creatures who need plenty of interaction with their family.
Alaskan Malamute male vs female dogs’ clingy behavior
Male and female Alaskan Malamutes have different behaviors. Male Alaskan Malamutes are more likely to be clingy with their owners with the need to be close to them all the time.
Female Alaskan Malamutes are more independent and not as clingy as their male counterparts. However, both genders of Alaskan Malamutes are very loyal and devoted to their owners.
How to deal with a clingy Alaskan Malamute
Identify the cause
Assess your Alaskan Malamute’s current situation and environment to identify why they might be very clingy, for example, if it stems from separation anxiety, old age, or stress.
You can do this by assessing when the behavior started if they have not been so clingy and also when and where the behavior starts, to be able to pinpoint the possible causes of the clinginess.
By knowing the possible cause behind your Alaskan Malamute’s clinginess you can implement the corrective action.
Don’t worry if you can not identify the cause on your own, the next step is to talk with your veterinarian to help in the determination of the underlying cause.
Consult with your veterinarian
Talk to your veterinarian about the surrounding circumstances making your Malamute clingy and the need for attachment.
The veterinarian will determine if the problem is due to an underlying illness or if it is a behavioral issue that needs to be corrected by an animal behaviorist.
From this assessment, the veterinarian will either recommend treatment or a certified animal behaviorist to help train your Alaskan Malamute.
Behavioral training is essential in teaching an Alaskan Malamute the desired behaviors to stop clinginess. This includes training for the management of separation anxiety, or trauma.
Care for your clingy female in heat
When your female Malamute comes into heat, her behavior may change dramatically. She may become more clingy and needy, wanting to be near you all the time.
While this can be sweet, it can also be frustrating if you’re trying to get things done. Here are ways for dealing with a clingy Malamute in heat:
- Give her extra attention. During this time, your dog will crave attention and affection more than usual. Make sure to give her plenty of both. Spend extra time petting her, playing with her, and just being near her.
- Set aside time for cuddles. If you can’t give her constant attention, set aside specific times for cuddles and affection. Let her know when it’s time for cuddles so she doesn’t get frustrated waiting for attention.
- Take her on a daily walk. Walks help relieve stress and also give your dog a chance to focus on something other than you. Plan one or two walks for the day when she’s likely to be at her clingiest.
- Be patient. She’s just trying to get your attention. Don’t yell at her or punish her for being clingy. Instead, try to redirect her attention to something else she can chew on, like a toy.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
Alaskan Malamute clinginess may also come from learned behavior where you inadvertently contributed to the behavior by encouraging them to be very attached to you.
You can stop encouraging this behavior by teaching them the command words such as “ stay” to discourage them from following you everywhere in your home and also your dog learning how to be separated from you.
Consistent training on the desired behaviors with positive reinforcement helps to stop clinginess.
Spend time with them
Clinginess can be a simple need for your dog to spend time with you. This is normal because Alaskan Malamutes are naturally people-oriented and love people’s company.
So if they sense that they need attention from you, your Alaskan Malamute might cry, or become clingy to get your attention.
Schedule time to spend with your Alaskan Malamute and also if clinginess is due to a need such as needing your help to get out of the house, or time for walks, offer the help needed.
Exercise and activities
A bored Alaskan Malamute tends to be clingy, therefore provide exercises and activities to mentally and physically engage your dog.
This includes the provision of puzzle toys, chew toys, daily walks, and exercises appropriate for your Alaskan Malamute’s age.
Research has shown that early life experiences and daily exercises have an impact on your dog’s welfare, which also reduces their stress.