It is because dogs are such social animals that they are our companions. However, there are some dogs who demand an incessant amount of attention. This is the dog who constantly is nudging your hand for some attention – or barking without apparent provocation – or following you everywhere.

There are several reasons for this type of behaviour. The dog may be insecure. It may be highly reliant on your presence for its sense of safety and security. Another possibility is that the dog considers itself the leader of the pack. You are considered subservient and the dog is just in the process of training you. A third possibility is that the dog is simply bored. There are not enough things in the dog’s day to keep it intellectually stimulated. The dog will attempt to create its own entertainment – and negative attention is still attention.

In very general terms, doing obedience with your dog addresses these issues. It does give the dog attention and it calls upon the dog to earn this attention. It structures the relationship wherein the owner, and not the dog, is the leader of the pack. The obedience can extend beyond the basics of sit, down, stand, stay and come.

The point is to have the dog earn the attention in a constructive manner. If, for example, the dog comes and nudges your hand for some attention, ask for a ‘sit’ from the dog. The quicker the dog sits, the sooner it receives the petting that it wants. Then you can extend this sit to increase the dog’s repertoire. The ‘sit’ can be followed with shake-a-paw, wave-the-right-paw, wave-the-left-paw, and so on – the possibilities are endless.

Catherine Forsythe

[tags]dogs, attention seeking behaviour, security, pack leadership, boredom, obedience training, repertoire[/tags]