Why Do Stray Dogs Follow You? (and what to do about it)

A stray dog may be following for various reasons. The dog may be lost, abandoned, or has an owner, which you can tell by the collar or a tag around the neck. If you petted or fed the dog, he might now look at you as an owner. However, the dog might also be hostile and guarding its territory.

There are still many stray dogs in the US and the world. Depending on the situation, you can do several things if a stray dog follows you. Let’s explore why a street dog would follow you and what you can do about it.

three brown stray dogs in the street

Why would a stray dog follow you?

There are many explanations why an apparently street dog might follow you. First, it may not be a stray dog at all. If he appeared to be in fine form, perhaps he got out, ran away, and wound up there. If that’s the case, he could be owned and microchipped.

There’s also a slight possibility that the dog had a previous owner but was abandoned. If the dog appears mannered or has a collar, he might follow you and try to get inside your building or a house. He’s looking for food and a home, in this case.

Then, if you’ve been feeding the stray dog or paying attention to him, he might now see you as an owner and will follow you. Consider what you’d want to do with a dog now, whether adopting him or taking him somewhere safe.

Other times, the dog might guard its territory and attack if you get too close or keep staring at the dog. If the dog is showing anxiety or aggression (rigid posture, growling and snapping, showing teeth), avoid the dog. Look into calling an organization to take care of him.

What to do if a stray dog follows you?

In most places in the United States, you can take the dog to a vet who’ll scan for a chip and contact the owner for free.

You should first scan the dog for a microchip to see if he has owners or belongs to a shelter. Microchips are a fantastic backup alternative for pet identification, and if the dog has one, you should be able to contact the owner.

Meanwhile, you can post on Nextdoor and Pawboost, notify local shelters if you live nearby, and post on Facebook if possible. Check for a poster (or a FB post) about a lost dog. Check with the apartment manager to see if they know anything.

If you do not wish to keep the stray dog, please contact someone or take it to a shelter so it can be adequately cared for.

You can post about it on your local Facebook community page to see if anyone knows the dog or wants to adopt him. They may be able to assist you in transporting the dog to a shelter.

If you live in a building and want to help this stray dog temporarily, consider whether your building allows pets. If the building has a “no pet” policy, talk to the building manager about enabling you to take the dog in until you locate refuge.

If this dog appears well-mannered and has a collar, he may have been abandoned or run away. Feed the dog and keep it until you can reach the prior owners, or take it to a rescue group.

person petting black stray puppy

Try not to throw rocks at the dog or kick him in any way. It’s hard enough for stray dogs as it is, which can also aggravate the situation, and you could get bitten.

Try to avoid staring at the dog as you walk for extended periods. Some strays are territorial, may be guarding their territory, and will attack if you go near them. Most of them who live near people are at least somewhat socialized, but you can never know.

Where to take the stray dog that you found?

The best thing for a stray dog is to get taken care of, which is what an animal rescue organization is for. You can simply Google “animal rescue” and “your city” to find them out. It’s usually easy to reach your area’s Animal Protection Society (APS).

If the dog appears friendly and socialized, consider approaching the dog, but be careful. If the dog has a collar or a tag around its neck, you might even have a number to call. The dog may not be a stray and could simply be lost. If that’s the case, try contacting the owner

If a stray dog is constantly roaming around and is looking aggressive, try calling animal control or the police. Most areas in the US have some organization that will take care of a dog but may not go directly to pick them up.

You can also call an animal shelter near you and seek their advice on what to do. If the dog is friendly and submissive, you could take it to the shelter. However, if the dog shows aggression, calling someone else to take care of it is the best approach.

You could also call a vet and ask for their advice. Most vets will scan for a microchip for free. Whatever you do, please make sure the dog goes to a no-kill shelter or breed rescue group.

Do stray dogs become loyal if you take them in?

Most of the time, the dog will simply be looking for food, or if you’ve been nice to him, he wants to be your friend. He may have created a bond with you, or it might be the first time someone’s been nice to him.

If the dog appears somewhat socialized and isn’t showing signs of aggression, consider feeding, bathing, and taking him to a vet. With some training, stray dogs can become loyal just like any other dog from a shelter. 

If you take care of a stray dog, you might be looking for a new friend for the next ten years.

Are stray dogs intelligent?

Stray dogs are reasonably bright and can pick up on human cues. Untrained stray dogs respond to human gestures, demonstrating that understanding between humans and dogs goes beyond training. This shows intelligence and adaptability.

Many stray dogs are intelligent. Street dogs in numerous cities worldwide have learned to navigate human traffic by using crosswalks, obeying street lights, and even taking public transportation.

On the other hand, one of my dogs sometimes wants to run across the street without even looking.

Whether this means stray dogs are generally more intelligent than our home pets is hard to say, but they certainly aren’t less intelligent. Most dogs will adapt to their life, so if they aren’t trained or pushed to do something, they will most likely not be able to do it, just like humans.


How to get a stray dog to leave you?

The only effective technique to prevent a stray dog from following you is to tie him up or fence him in. Bring him in or call someone to look after him, such as an animal rescue group or a nearby shelter. If you have fed the dog at least once, it will continue to follow you.

Can stray dogs tell if you’re a good or bad person?

Dogs cannot understand the morality of “good” and “evil.” They do, however, have a keen understanding of body language. The dog can detect when a person’s body language differs from what they are used to, and they can see some fear responses in the hormones our bodies produce.

How to tell if a stray dog likes you?

Tail wagging when they see you or approach petting is one of the clear signs. The dog’s posture will be relaxed, and he will appear pleased to meet you. They will not growl or snap at you, instead staring you in the eyes. When being petted, they may even lift their paws at you.

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