My Dog Constantly Wants Attention – What Should I Do?

Dogs that are constantly looking for attention are typically bored and have a lot of built-up energy. Dogs are pack animals and love to be around others. If they’re home alone all day or you never spend quality time with them, they’re going to want your attention to satisfy their pack desire.

If your dog is constantly seeking attention from you, she’s probably got a good reason. We’ve gathered a list of common reasons below to help you figure out a solution.

Boredom

Unless you have an older dog or a low-energy breed such as a basset hound, you can’t expect a dog to lay around all day, content to do nothing.

Dogs need both physical and mental exercise to be happy and healthy. If your dog isn’t getting enough of either one of these, she will let you know.

Physical Energy

Make sure you’re able to walk your dog at least twice a day, if not more often.

Also, be sure to spend a good amount of time playing fetch and other active games to get rid of some energy.

If you work from home, try making a point of tiring her out before you need to get the bulk of your work done, so she’ll be less likely to demand attention when you’re busy.

Mental Energy

Just as important as physical exercise is mental exercise. If a dog is mentally unstimulated, it can lead to boredom and destructive behaviors, such as chewing and excessive barking.

Play games with your dog or spend time teaching her new tricks.

During times that you’re not able to play with her, such as when you’re working or need to leave the house, try giving her a game she can play alone, like:

  • Kongs
  • Puzzle games which require the dog to work to extract food
  • Snuffle mats, which you can buy or make at home
  • Good old fashioned bones for chewing

Loneliness

Dogs are pack animals, which is easy to forget in our modern society when they’re so often kept alone. If they don’t have enough socialization, dogs will demand more attention. If they’re ignored, they can become anxious or depressed.

You’re Not Present Enough

Dog owners who aren’t able to be home a lot know that their dogs may be suffering from lack of attention, but this can also be the case if you’re home but not often available to give your dog undivided attention.

Whether you’re not home enough or just busy while you are home, make it a point to spend uninterrupted time with your dog every day.

Take her for walks, play physically and mentally stimulating games, and teach her new tricks.

At the very least, try to make work time cuddle time, so even if you’re not able to mentally focus on her, she can have your comforting physical contact.

She Needs a Friend

Regardless of the amount of time you’re able to spend with your dog, there’s a good chance she’ll benefit from having a canine friend.

As we mentioned, dogs are pack animals and thrive when they’re able to be social.

Some people worry that an additional dog will be more work, but a companion for your dog will actually help to relieve some of the burden of being her only source of attention because she’ll have someone else to interact with.

A doggy friend will provide more than a playmate, but also a source of comfort when you’re gone.

Puppy Playdates

If, for whatever reason, you really don’t want to adopt a second dog, consider arranging puppy playdates with friends every so often.

This can be an excellent chance for you to catch up with a friend who has a dog, or the two of you can alternate who takes the dogs. This will give you both a break from pet duties for a day here and there.

Dog Sitter

The next best thing to a doggy companion is a human one, so if you don’t know anyone with dogs, enlist the help of a dog lover in your social circle.

They can come over while you’re gone to make sure the dog has plenty of play and cuddle time, in addition to walking and potty breaks,

This is also a great option if you have a teen in your life who could use some pocket money.

Doggy Daycare

Not everyone realizes that doggy daycare isn’t only for people going out of town, although many do double as kennels.

Especially in bigger cities, doggy daycare popularity is growing among people who work long hours and want to make sure their dog is getting plenty of social time with friends.

Take her there regularly whenever you need to work, or just a few times a month to tire her out and give her some time to play with other dogs.

Many daycares even have cameras so you can check in on your dog throughout the day.

Dog Parks

If doggie daycare isn’t your thing or isn’t affordable for you, dog parks are another option.

Dog parks allow your dog time to play with other dogs and run around to get rid of energy. Since you’ll be there, you’ll be able to make sure your pup is appropriately supervised.

Dog parks are also great places to meet other dog owners, which comes in handy if you ever need a sitter or vet recommendation.

Learned Behavior

If you’re sure that your dog is receiving adequate amounts of attention and exercise, it may constantly be wanting attention because of personality or habit.

Insecurity or Fear

If your dog is anxious or insecure, she may constantly require your attention because she only feels safe when you’re around.

If she is exhibiting other signs of anxiety, such as being easily startled, relieving herself indoors, or excessive chewing, schedule an appointment with your vet.

If the vet clears her of any physical reasons for her symptoms, it might be time to call in a dog behaviorist, who is an expert in understanding and changing dog behavior.

Such an expert will help your dog feel calm and secure, even when you’re not able to give her attention.

Personality

Dogs’ personalities vary just as much as humans do, and your dog may prefer to be around someone at all times.

If this is the case, and you’re sure that there’s no underlying health or anxiety issues causing this, try using the suggestions in the next section to retrain the behavior.

She’s Spoiled

If your dog has always wanted more of your attention than you’re interested in giving, or the demands have slowly increased, it’s possible that you taught her that it’s okay.

This is especially likely to be the case if your dog barks or nips at you, or pokes you and throws toys in your lap for attention.

Retrain the Behavior

Unfortunately, the only best way to get attention-seeking behavior to stop is by refusing to reward it, which means ignoring it altogether.

This can be difficult if you have trouble disciplining your dog, as it feels mean to do. However, the dog must learn boundaries, for her sake and yours.

Depending on the dog, you can simply continue doing what you’re doing, and ignore her when she demands attention at inappropriate times.

Consistency is important, so try to do it at the same time of day, or when you’re doing certain things, such as working at a desk.

Make sure not to tell the dog to stop, or make eye contact, as both are still attention and therefore reward the behavior.

If the dog is too much of a nuisance, it may be necessary to use time outs by using a baby gate or door to remove her from the area you’re in.

Reward her when she leaves you alone and settles down, and she’ll eventually get the idea.

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