Although it can sometimes be endearing or cute, attention seeking behaviour from our dogs is not always welcome or convenient, especially if they want attention while we're busy trying to do something else!
And just in case you don't know what attention seeking 'looks like', check out the following:
Do any of them sound familiar to you?
I wouldn't be surprised if most of them did, however, this type of behavior is exactly the kind of antics we want to discourage, particularly the last one on the list.
Our response to any of the above behaviors may be to push our Cocker away, or shout at him to be quiet.
Unfortunately what we often don't realize is that by responding to this type behavior, we're not only confirming to our dogs that their attention seeking behaviour works, but we may also be inadvertently helping to increase our Cocker's dominance by following and not leading!
If you react to your Cocker Spaniel's 'demands' you are rewarding his (unwanted) behavior and it won't be long before he learns that his attention seeking behavior will get him what he wants, so he'll misbehave each time he craves your undivided attention!
For example, you may have called him by his name (a big reward) and asked him to get down or be quiet, or you may have inadvertently rewarded him with your touch as you gently pushed him away.
If you react to your dog's attention seeking behaviour, your dog is controlling you; he's calling the shots, and that's not good. You need to maintain your status as pack leader - you are the alpha dog - always.
"The recommended response is to ignore him altogether:
don't speak to him, don't look at him and don't touch him
- in your dog's eyes, these actions are all forms of reward"
Your Cocker Spaniel may try many different ways to get you to notice him and I've listed a few of these behaviors below:
Not all dogs are made the same way; they will try and attract our attention in many different ways and, as we've seen, some can be quite imaginative!
Never Try To Resolve Cocker Spaniel Aggression Problems Yourself
If your Cocker's attention seeking behaviour turns to biting or he becomes aggressive, you may need to seek professional advice and assistance from your vet or an animal behaviorist.
There may be many reasons why your dog is constantly demanding your attention and, before you can begin to address the problem, you need to understand what it is that's causing your dog to behave in this way.
I recommend you establish a healthy routine of exercise, play, and training for your dog - regardless of whether or not your Cocker Spaniel is displaying attention seeking behaviour.
Physical exercise and mental stimulation will have a calming effect on your Cocker, making attention seeking behaviour less likely.
You might like to adopt a routine along the lines of the following:
Our dogs need something to do in order to satisfy their basic hunting instincts.
Cocker Spaniels love to sniff out a hidden object - especially if it turns out to be a biscuit! Hide a few treats around the house or in the garden, encourage him to find them, and watch that tail wag!
Cockers also enjoy chasing a ball or a Frisbee.
Our Cocker, Max, will carry a stick or a ball in his mouth for miles!
I'm not sure how much physical exercise this gives him, but at least the mental stimulation makes him feel like he's working!
Plenty of physical and mental stimulation will not only ensure that your dog is healthy and obedient, but will also burn off his energy and tire him out.
This, in turn, may help to curb your dog's constant attention seeking behaviour and you could see an improvement within a week or so!
If you follow the above advice, your Cocker Spaniel is unlikely to demand you attend to him because you will have satisfied his mental and physical needs.
However, if your Cocker Spaniels behavior doesn't improve as much as you'd like.......read on for more help and advice!
Always ignore your dog's attention seeking behaviour and reward him only when he's well behaved, or when he's quiet.
Ironically, we very often ignore our dogs when they're quiet, and (unwittingly) reward them (with touch and the sound of our voice) when they're displaying annoying attention seeking behaviour - the exact opposite of what we should be doing!
When your dog is behaving well, or resting quietly, go over to him and stroke him gently.
Make a quiet fuss over him and if, like our Cocker Spaniel Max, he rolls over onto his back, rub his belly and tell him he's a 'Good quiet boy'.
Rewarding your dog when he's quiet will teach him that only good behavior will get him what he wants.
The objective is to give your dog lots of attention on your terms; in fact, the same as he gets now, but only when he's good.
As I've just explained, the worst punishment you can give an attention seeking dog is to deprive him of your attention and affection, so the next time your dog is making demands, the best thing you can do is ignore him.
Try the following:
If moving him to another room fails, and he continues barking, you may want to consider using a stronger barking deterrent, such as a water pistol or an air spray (this is compressed air used to clean computer keyboards and cameras). Please don't use anywhere near his eyes.
Either of these may be used each time he displays barking as an attention seeking behaviour to startle him into silence; your dog's behavior will be interrupted, allowing you to manage him.
If you'd like more information on how to stop your dog barking, you'll find lots of help and advice here.
When your Cocker Spaniel responds in the way that you want him to, you can then give him what he was asking for (food, affection, etc.) as you are rewarding him for following your commands - rewarding good behaviour NOT rewarding attention seeking behaviour!
There's no such thing as a free lunch - make your dog work for anything that you give him!
If you dog wants constant attention - give it to him - but do so on your terms - not his!
If, after following the advice given here, you still have a problem with your dog's behavior, we recommend you consult your vet for advice.
He may be able to offer assistance, or he may refer you to a behavioral therapist.
If your dog continues to bark excessively, and you think it may be something other than attention seeking behaviour, you might find some useful information in the articles listed below.
Like This Page?
Photo Credits - In
order of viewing:
1. Photographer unknown
2. Robert Hackett at http://www.fotolia.com/id/9017930
3. Biglama at http://www.fotolia.com/id/13741372
4. Paul Morriss at Flickr.com
5. Willeecole at http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-puppy-barking-laying-blanket-image12996225
6. Pailoolom at http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-10014595-cocker-puppy.php
7. Copa Kavanagh at Flickr.com