Why Is My Irish Setter So Clingy? Here’s Why

Irish Setters are affectionate dogs that love human company. However, there are times when they can become too needy.

So, why is your Irish Setter so clingy?

Let’s look at the reasons why your Irish Setter is so clingy and what you can do to reduce your Irish Setter’s clinginess.

Why Is My Irish Setter So Clingy?

Irish Setters 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, their clingy personality trait and learned behavior.

Irish setter so clingy

Are Irish Setters Clingy?

Yes, Irish Setters are naturally clingy dogs. The Irish Setter is a velcro dog breed which means they are a dog breed with a clingy personality, with the desire to be near their owners and follow them around constantly. 

This breed loves attention and needs to feel like they are part of the family. They often bond strongly with their families and can be very clingy. This is what many people want, a breed that is affectionate and will stick by your side, but this is not for everyone and can drive some owners mad!

Clingy behavior is not to be confused with separation anxiety, although some dogs can have both. Velcro dogs have extra clingy personalities.

Apart from this personality trait, other factors such as illness, and old age can make an Irish Setter clingy.

Signs of Clinginess in Irish Setters

It can be sometimes difficult to differentiate between typical affectionate Irish Setter behavior and clinginess. The common signs of an overly clingy Irish Setter 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

Reasons why your Irish Setter is so clingy

Separation anxiety

An Irish Setter 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.

Irish Setters 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.

Underlying illness

Illness can cause an Irish Setter to become clingy by becoming close to you to seek safety, comfort, and help. In some cases, an Irish Setter can be aggressive due to the discomfort and pain felt by avoiding being touched.

If your Irish Setter 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 Irish Setter is unwell.

See Also: Irish Setter throwing up: Why it happens and when it serious

Clingy behavior during a female’s heat cycle

A female Irish Setter 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.

Related: When do Irish Setters go into heat? Here’s what to expect

Old Age

Old age affects the cognitive ability of an Irish Setter, which means they slowly lose mental processes such as attention, perception, memory, and other functions.

An old Irish Setter 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 Irish Setter 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.

Insufficient enrichment

Irish Setters 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 Irish Setter to engage in destructive behavior such as digging, chewing, or garbage raiding.

Attention seeking

An Irish Setter 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 Irish Setter will cry, bark, paw, or follow you everywhere to get your attention so that you might focus on them.

Learned behavior

Clinginess can also be due to learned behavior whereby an Irish Setter 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 Irish Setters get attached to one person?

While Irish Setters 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, Irish Setters are still social creatures who need plenty of interaction with their family.

Male vs female Irish Setter clingy behavior

Male and female Irish Setters have different behaviors. Male Irish Setters are more likely to be clingy with their owners with the need to be close to them all the time. 

Female Irish Setters are more independent and not as clingy as their male counterparts. However, both genders of Irish Setters are very loyal and devoted to their owners.

How to deal with a clingy Irish Setter

Identify the cause

Assess your Irish Setter’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 Irish Setter’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 Irish Setter 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 Irish Setter.


Behavioral training is essential in teaching an Irish Setter 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 Irish Setter 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 Irish Setter 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. 

Avoid encouraging the behavior

Irish Setter 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 Irish Setters are naturally people-oriented and love people’s company. 

So if they sense that they need attention from you, your Irish Setter might cry, or become clingy to get your attention.

Schedule time to spend with your Irish Setter 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 Irish Setter 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 Irish Setter’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.