Dog following owner in field.

No matter where you are in the house — cooking in the kitchen, tossing clothes into the wash, soaking in the tub — he’s always underfoot, gingerly shadowing every step you take. We’re talking about that loyal, four-legged member of your family, otherwise known as the dog.

But why is it that a canine will follow your every move, while a cat will feign indifference when you walk into a room? Is it just pure puppy love? An innate desire to stick his highly sensitive nose into everything you do? Or is it as simple as instinct?

If you opted for instinct, you’re right. One of the first “tricks” that a dog learns is how to follow his littermates. If you watch a group of weeks-old puppies in action, you’ll notice that the minute one dog stumbles toward his mother in search of milk, the others fall in line, knowing full well that he’s headed for something they all want.

The quick-witted canine is also hard-wired to cling to his pack, even as an adult. Not only does he enjoy the camaraderie that comes with being part of a community — canine or human — but he also knows from instinct that he should keep close to the key alphas in his life who provide shelter, safety, and belly rubs. There’s another reason he’s so eagle-eyed: You’re the one who feeds him!