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How To Handle An Attention Seeking Dog

 by alexandra on 13 Jan 2015 |
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Many dogs learn to get our undivided attention through stereotypical behaviours such as excessive barking, jumping up and pawing, biting the lead, stealing items, tail-chasing, and even aggression. Inappropriate attention-seeking behaviour is a common assessment referred to dog behaviourists, whereby owners unintentionally have given in to their dog's behaviour reinforcing it even more so. As such, these dog behavior problems can become even more difficult to deal with and to extinguish. There are many reasons why attention seeking behaviors start, including lack of physical activities, boredom and nervousness. Some helpful tips about how to handle attention seeking need behavior from your dog are:
  • Understand the behaviours. The hardest part in stopping these attention seeking habits is to be aware of them in the first place. Once you are more aware of your dog’s behaviour, ask yourself, ‘Is my dog trying to get my attention on their terms or mine?’. At times misdiagnosed, hyperactive dogs are just sensitive to sudden environmental changes – overreacting to the presence of a strange person or animal, and apparently unable to adjust to the new stimulus.
  • Recognise your reward system. Dogs learn behaviours, and this learning only takes place when the behaviour is reinforced in some way. It’s helpful if you can recognise the ways in which you reward out-of-control attention-seeking behaviours, especially those which you don’t know you’re reinforcing.
  • Have your dog complete basic training. Generally speaking, dogs should learn and practise the basic obedience exercises, especially the 'sit', 'down', and 'stay' commands. Your dog should especially perform the ‘sit’ command before getting anything they want, whether it’s attention, petting, food or play to help teach them calm emotional restraint around people. By increasing the structure in their environment, those pesky behaviors should start to dwindle.
  • Practice both voice and lead control. Dogs that jump, leap and run out of reach should be kept on a lead during behviour management in anticipation of ensuing problems. In regards to your voice, quiet confidence will effectively get your message across. Most times, ignoring needy behaviours and a lack of acknowledgement can stop unwanted behaviour. 
  • Stimulate your dog to counteract their boredom. Dogs that seek your attention at times lack adequate physical and mental stimulation. Increase their exercise and make it really robust exercise! Attention should be given in little doses and often throughout the day. It advised that all contact with the dog must be initiated and ended by you. Reward your dog fittingly. Dogs learn quickly to behave if 'good' behaviour is rewarded and 'bad' behaviour is ignored.
If the problem behaviour still persists or leads to aggression, ask your vet for assistance or for referral to a dog behavioural specialist. With understanding, consistency and patience, you can soon teach your dog to overcome their needy behaviours and to be less dependent on you.
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