Dogs display attention seeking behaviors for many reasons but the most important reason is they want something from us. We should be honored. Out of all the other options, the dog is choosing me to play with, go on a walk with, cuddle with and to feed it. Think of all those years you spent wanting to be popular and here it is. You are the most popular person to your dog.
In addition, We should value and admire their clear communication. Think of all those situations in which you just wish that person in your life would clearly communicate what they want. Your dog does!
So Why don’t we appreciate attention seeking behaviors?
A lot of attention seeking behaviors involve the dog doing something we don’t want it to do like jump on people, bark, or act like a wild maniac. The solution to this problem is to teach it an alternative attention seeking behavior. You can teach instead of jumping on me when you want petting or play, approach and sit or even approach and keep your feet on the ground. But you do have to proactively teach it because that is not the natural way for dogs to seek attention.
In addition, many times the dog’s timing is off. The dog wants attention at times it is really difficult for us. The solution is to set up routines in which the dog can expect all those delightful activities to take place. We do have to meet their needs as a playful, social, and highly interactive being. We also need to teach there are times in which I am not available (when I am sleeping, working in my office, on the phone). Prevention strategies can be helpful in the beginning as your educate your dog on this concept.
What attention seeking behaviors does your dog engage in?
What behavior would you like to teach it instead?
What prevention strategy will you use when your dog may display unwanted attention seeking behaviors?