The Most Frequent Attention-Seeking Dog Behaviors and How To Deal With Them

A habit is, by definition, an acquired behavior pattern that becomes involuntary, a particular practice, custom or usage or a dominant or regular disposition or tendency. Attention-seeking dog behavior is common and, within certain limits, normal. While it is quite normal for a puppy to jump up at you when you feed him or whine when you leave him alone, if these behaviors are excessive or present in adult dogs, they usually indicate a problem.

Encouraging the repetition of a certain behavior, it determines a dog to start performing it involuntarily. This is helpful when you want to teach your pup to adopt a good habit, but dogs also learn to adopt bad habits. Our challenge is to identify and stop encouraging them. Giving attention to your pup while he is seeking for attention, it encourages him to develop bad habits and use them whenever he wants to get your attention. Most of the attention-seeking behaviors can turn into neurotic behaviors if your dog is encouraged to continue them or if he is under stress and uses them to cope with his stress.


Attention-Seeking Dog Behaviors
As a dog owner you have probably confronted at certain moments with one or many of the 14 following behaviors that a dog usually adopts to obtain your attention:
Rolling over
Stealing things
Sitting on your feet
Playing or chewing something that he is not allowed to have
Chewing or licking himself
Chasing his tail
Chasing a light or shadows

Although these behaviors seem to be harmless, some of them may become annoying and, in certain contexts, a little dangerous. Furthermore, they indicate a problem in your dog, so you must find out what it is causing them.


Why Is My Puppy So Attention-Needy?
Puppies can have lots of reason to become attention-seekers. The most common reasons are your puppy is bored, not receiving enough exercise, is spoiled, was adopted your puppy too early and he misses his mom, had a previous owner that didn’t care for him, or suffered traumas.

How To Deal With Attention-Seeking Behaviors
Give your dog attention only on your terms. Establish clear limits.

Avoid touching your dog as he considers it a praise.

When your dog tries to get on your lap, stand up quickly.

If he adopts behaviors like barking or whining, do not speak with him and avoid eye contact.

Teach your dog to sit down and stay. Use these commands when he adopts attention-seeking behaviors.

Inform the others about your rules so they act consistently to get effective results.

Establish a healthy diet for your dog and exclude food that contains chemical additives. They can lead to hyperactivity.


Your reactions to these kinds of behaviors are essential to get effective results. The first step in stopping these habits is to identify them and to become aware of the fact that your pup wants to get your attention on his terms. The second step is to look away instantly, moving your whole head to let him know that you do not want to interact with him. Give up any kind of attention, including pushing him away or giving him other negative response. Instead, ignore him anytime he adopts an attention-seeking behavior. Don’t look at him, don’t speak to him or touch him, just walk away. In this way, your dog learns that attention on your terms is about quality.

If you speak with your dog, he considers he has got your attention. The more intense is your reaction, the more attention your dog feels he is getting and learns how to use these tricks to get your attention further.

Act calmly, assertively and gently so your dog does not interpret you are excited and engaged as he is when you interact with him.

You can cuddle your dog when he is playing with his toys to offer him the attention and the affection he needs, but on your terms, not on his. Remember to practice these methods on a regular basis to get effective results.

If your puppy is used to receive a positive response from you when he is seeking for your attention, he may become frustrated seeing that you ignore him, so his reactions may become stronger. Keep your calm, don’t give up and the results won’t be late. If the problem persists even after several days, it is recommended to ask your veterinarian for help. He may take a broader approach to your dog’s behavior.


Troy Morrison works as a marketing specialist for Premier Pups, a dog adoption agency that specializes in small breed puppies like Yorkie Puppies, Maltese Puppies, Morkie, Pomsky puppies, Cavachon puppies, Havanese puppies, etc. He looks forward to sharing his love for pets with you through the agency. Anyone who knows him, knows how much he loves his dog, who he rescued from a shelter a few years ago.

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Maureen Dempsey

Maureen Dempsey is a freelance writer living in New York with an ancient, 14-year-old chihuahua and a feisty, young dachshund.

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