The teenage dog has been busy and bustling since 6:30am. By 3pm he had relentlessly patrolled, barked and destroyed the backyard. In consult, the dog “ignored” requests to get down and sit still. My client remarked that “he is constantly seeking attention” (dog attention seeking) how can this be fixed?
Clients report that their dog is jumping, barking, nuzzling or licking “for attention”.
I encounter stories where owners complain of dog attention seeking. Above all, start with understanding why dogs need attention. Our current understanding of behaviour can help us to better understand “attention seeking”. Humans need to understand the message dogs are sending through their behaviours. This leads to a kinder, warmer and loving approach that nurtures the human-animal bond. Read on to learn how this can help.
Dogs cant’ speak English, talk about or express thoughts and feelings related to their needs. This requires that we explore the meanings behind the actions. In the story above the dog was exhausted and unable to self-settle (dog attention seeking). The dog can’t express in words “I’m tired and worried and need help to feel safe and settle”
Appreciate the difference between intentional limit testing and a dog having difficulty meeting a sensory need. The latter would make it an adaptation, something the dog needs on a physical level. It must be determined if dogs are reacting to internal needs, as these needs have numerous pathways that show up in behaviours. Behaviour is only the very tip of the iceberg!
Above all, see if we can change our mindset to give dogs the benefit of the doubt. Turn challenging behaviours into a problem to be solved. Use it as an opportunity to know your dog better from the inside out.
Fur-parents do not choose to ignore the meanings of behaviours or want their dogs to suffer in any way. Confusion results from inaccurate, out-dated information and not the lack of best intentions. It is also the case that this new way of thinking is not yet mainstream. Dogs depend on us to decipher the meaning of their behaviours and to have compassion and an open mind.The time has come to shift understanding of “attention seeking”. Dogs are cognitively young and count on us to use up-to-date knowledge to guide them through life.
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