The Canine Need for Attention

In Seeking attention, Shelley Widhalm on July 28, 2013 at 11:30 am

Zoey the Cute Dachshund needs and wants attention.

Zoey the Cute Dachshund needs and wants attention.

In addition to play, dogs need attention, but this attention should not spoil us – though as the cutest dachshund on the planet, I deserve a bit of spoiling, as well as the princess treatment.

Of course, dog training books recommend princess and not-so-princess-y dogs get a healthy dose of attention that includes daily walks, exercise and play time. Like humans, we need love and attention, as well as stimulation to keep our minds active and to be socialized.

If we don’t receive this attention, we can be harder to train, disobedient and destructive. When left alone, we may chew on shoes and furniture, get into trash and mark beds and floors (puppies chew as part of the teething process, but adult dogs should have learned acceptable behaviors and identified the difference between the chewable and not so chewable options).

Seeking immediate attention, we may resort to jumping up, barking, whining, pawing and dropping a toy or ball into the lap. These behaviors are cute in a puppy, but adult dogs need to know about positive ways of seeking attention, such as sitting nicely or playing with our toys on our own.

Dogs need to have some independence, so don’t reward us if we’re continuously demanding your notice. Help us develop our own interests, such as giving us something new to chew while you work on your laptop, writing blogs.

Don’t reward us for poor behavior, such as barking or pawing at you, because the attention only temporarily stops our undesirable behavior. We’ve learned we can get a response out of you, and we’ll do it again.

When we act in this undesirable way, ignore us, which I really, really dislike. Just like now, I barked for attention and had to go inside after I refused to listen to two repeats of “No bark.”

As soon as we resume our good behavior, reward us for that, like now when I stopped pawing at the patio door and got to go back outside. Even stubborn dogs like dachshunds will eventually catch on.

And as a note, we shouldn’t be left no more than eight hours a day. Then we’ll really have a reason to complain.


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