Remember how adorable it was when your new, tiny puppy wanted all your love and attention? Well, now they're fully grown, and it's not quite so cute. Or perhaps you adopted your new friend from a shelter, and they can't seem to leave your side. Dog parents need a break from their fur babies every now and then, but it's difficult when your pet is overly dependent on you. If your dog's persistent need for play time or affection is getting you down, they may be an attention-seeker. And don't rule yourself out as the cause, sometimes we all love our pooches just a little bit too much.
So, What Counts as Attention-Seeking Dog Behaviour?
Although it's normal for puppies to jump up at you 24/7, or whine when you leave them unattended, it's not healthy to see these behaviours in older dogs. If your dog is disproportionately begging, whining, barking, nudging, stealing, jumping on furniture, or constantly bringing you their favourite toy, then they're attention-seeking. These may seem like harmless dog antics, but excessive attention-seeking behaviour can be exhausting for owners, as well as potentially dangerous around kids or older people. It could also mean that they never learned to be truly happy in their own company, and no one likes the thought of their pet being miserable whenever they leave the house.
But Why Do Dogs Become Attention-Seekers?
There are many different reasons why dogs develop attention-seeking behaviours, even if all of their needs have been met. They could be bored or have too much energy due to a lack of exercise. Or they just do them for the hell of it. After all, it's not surprising to catch a dog digging or nicking your leftovers. On the other hand, there are certain things that dog owners do that can unintentionally create attention-seeking behaviour in their pets. We can accidentally reinforce negative habits by giving them a cuddle or affection when they vie for our attention, teaching them that this type of behaviour will be rewarded.
How Should I Deal with it?
It's ok to give your dog love and affection - why else would you have a pet if you weren't planning on caring for it? But if they don't learn how to be by themselves, you'll never get any peace and quiet!
- Many people think the easiest way to stop this behaviour is to be firm and tell them no when they're being naughty, but this may actually have the opposite effect.
- Why? Because you're still giving them attention. From your dog's point of view, negative attention is better than no attention at all!
- Instead, it's recommended that owners ignore their dogs when they exhibit attention-seeking behaviour.
- Avoid looking at them, speaking to them, or giving them physical contact. If they continue to harass you, calmly get up and walk away.
- It may make you feel guilty at first, you're only human! But in the long run it'll do you both the world of good.
- Is your dog being destructive or excessively barking when you ignore them? Perhaps it's time for a distraction. They need to learn to enjoy their own company, and they can do this with
- Get your dog some or something that might entertain them so that they don't demand as much of your attention.
- Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise; a tired dog will have less energy to pester you.
Their need for acknowledgment may temporarily increase while they adjust, as your dog may get frustrated when you no longer react to their attempts to grab your attention. Nevertheless, with patience you'll soon have a dog who's the definition of a good boy (or girl).