If you struggle to take a sip of coffee or nip to the toilet without your dog whining or pawing at you for attention, then you perhaps haven't realized how your actions may enable this neediness. It can feel harsh to reject signs of affection from your four-legged buddy but approaching training the right way can teach your dog helpful manners.
Giving your dog attention when they are being very needy is like rewarding them with one of the longest lasting dog chews right after they have chewed up all the furniture in your house. This is where top dog trainer, Kaitlin Stankowski, can assist. She says, "Instead, I recommend that you give your dog attention only when they’re being polite about it."
Stankowski says some owners might not have noticed that they have created a needy dog from a young age. However, this doesn't matter, it will just take some tough love. In other words, you need to get yourself into the habit of not petting your dog until they are showing you polite behavior.
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"I am all about loving up on dogs, especially when they enjoy it," says Stankowski. But if your dog is whining, barking, jumping, or nudging you for your attention, don't respond. It's important to note that sometimes your dog may be calling out for attention if something is genuinely up. So never ignore these gestures if they persist. For example, if you are questioning 'is my dog sick' it's a good idea to check things out at the vet.
However, if demanding behavior is the main problem you face with your pup, the main takeaway is to only reward politeness. One owner commented on Stankowski's post looking for individual advice for her dog. They said, "My dog is so demanding. I try to ignore the bad behavior but it gets worse, especially the barking to play outside."
Stankowski wrote back, "Does your dog know a place command? That would help a ton!". A place command teaches your dog to stay calm in one specific spot. This may be a crate, bed, rug, or chair, just anywhere that your dog can go and relax in when you need to create space between yourself and them.
No two canines are the same so don't beat yourself up if your dog doesn't respond well to Stankowski's advice or if you're feeling a case of the puppy blues come on. Patience is a virtue when it comes to dog training and there is no shame in reaching out to a professional for some 1:1 assistance.
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With over a year of writing for PetsRadar, Jessica is a seasoned pet writer. She joined the team after writing for the sister site, Fit&Well for a year. Growing up with a lively rescue lurcher kindled her love for animal behavior and care. Jessica holds a journalism degree from Cardiff University and has authored articles for renowned publications, including LiveScience, Runner's World, The Evening Express, and Tom's Guide. Throughout her career in journalism she has forged connections with experts in the field, like behaviorists, trainers, and vets. Through her writing, Jessica aims to empower pet owners with accurate information to enhance their furry companions' lives.