Prevent Your Puppy from Jumping Up, Demand barking and Nipping 

Adorable Boston Terrier puppy sitting. How To Stop Attention Seeking Habits In Puppies by trainer Gillian Ridgeway

Our friend and amazing dog trainer, Gillian Ridgeway  from Who’s Walking Who, shares great tips on how to begin training a puppy to stop attention seeking behaviors like jumping up, demand barking and nipping before they start. Follow her simple guide to help your puppy grow into a happy companion.

After a long day at work, there’s nothing better than a relaxing evening with your feet up.  You can anticipate the welcome you will receive when you walk in the door, long before you arrive. After all, you now share your life with a dog.

Dogs have a great way of making us feel welcome, loved and needed. It’s easy to overlook their less appealing efforts to get our attention like  jumping up, whining or nudging.  The problem is these “attention seeking efforts” may turn into habits that we later find annoying and unacceptable. What seems like cute and loving communication in a little puppy may not be so cute in a bigger demanding dog.

Attention Seeking Is What Dogs Do Best

Golden Retriever Puppy laying down on carpet looking up at camera

Behaviours will repeat again and again if your dog feels there is a payoff or they get rewarded. 

It starts out early, with your puppy pawing at you to come and play or jumping up on you as you walk in the door.  However, it can slowly escalate into your dog demanding that you play by constantly nudging your arm until you pat him or bringing you toys.  Or worse mouthing at you until you stop what you are doing and realize what he or she has understood for a long time – it’s all about him or her.

Gillian urges new dog owners to teach your pup from day one polite ways to communicate (See more tips on puppy training HERE)

Tan and brown puppy sitting on the grass looking up at camera

Common Attention Seeking Behaviors

A common attention seeking behavior is grabbing almost anything in your home – shoes, slippers, toilet paper, socks and running through the house with the object.  This usually starts off quite innocently.  Your new pup may show a genuine curiosity for those expensive shoes you have carelessly left within reach.  As he starts to chew on one, you race towards him.  This ends up in a chase game around the living room and now he or she fully understands how to get your attention and have fun.  Keep in mind there is always a payoff for your dog when exhibiting these behaviors, and the best payoff is usually your attention even if just for a moment.

How do you stop it?

One of the biggest problems or misconceptions is telling your dog to stop it or pushing them away when they are behaving poorly.  On the contrary, these types of actions teach your dog to continue being a pest.  They were seeking attention, and they got it. Dogs will often take any type of attention, even if it is negative.

cream and tan puppy  Twizzler gives paw at Talent Hounds audition

The simplest and fastest way to get rid of any unwanted behaviours is to ignore your puppy during unwanted behaviour and reward for good behaviour.

Many dog owners feel a sense of guilt when told to ignore these pleas for attention while training a puppy.  But in return, you are actually training your puppy to be a more well-mannered dog in the future. If he or she pushes at your arm, ignore him or her.  Will they go away quietly?  Not at first.  In fact, the biggest obstacle for the dog owner is that the behavior will get worse before it gets better.  The puppy believes this action gets rewarded, surely you will eventually give in. Hang in there.

Eventually, your puppy will give up and go and settle on their mat or in their crate.  After he or she has settled for a while, pay them some attention. This teaches them a great new way to get what they want and over time they should repeat this polite behaviour.

How To Give Your Puppy Attention

When playing with your puppy, make sure you start the game – allocate frequent times to play and bond with your puppy.  If he brings the toy, ignore him and go about your business and after a few minutes, go over and take one of his toys and ask him to join you in a game.

black puppy being held in mans arms looking to the side

What If You Don’t Mind That Your Dog Is Always Vying For Your Attention?

Gillian warns this type of behaviour can lead to nipping and even biting and the behaviours will just get worse.  Mouthing may escalate, barking may become more demanding and noisy. A big dog jumping up can be dangerous and scary to some kids and adults.

Separation anxiety can be another fall out of attention seeking if your dog doesn’t learn how to entertain himself or herself.  Although it may seem harsh at first, your dog will learn to be more calm and happy. Teach them to behave appropriately and respectfully as puppies and they will become the center of your world for all the right reasons!

Happy Training Tuesday!

Check Talent Hounds: Training Tuesday each week for more expert tips on training a happier dog!

Does Your Dog Have Any Attention Seeking Habits? Share your puppy training tips in the comments below.

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5 Comments

  • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

    Really great tips. Thanks Gillian!

  • We have all seen attention seeking behavior that we needed to stop . We have all seen children and adults do things that were inappropriate and yet got them a lot of attention . A child misbehaves at school and the teacher redirects them. mind. How to beat bad habits in seven steps. If giving up the attention – seeking benefits of gossiping, practise praising others instead. If you want to relieve the stress associated with biting your fingernails, squeeze a stress ball instead.