Although we love our pets dearly, constant attention seeking behaviour can soon become annoying and embarrassing! If your dog needs constant attention, he may bark, paw, or whine at you or all three; it can be exhausting!
Understand the signs and causes and learn how to stop your Cocker Spaniel from demanding your attention!
When a puppy seeks your attention, it's often cute and endearing, but when your puppy grows up, and your adult Cocker Spaniel wants you all to himself, it can become a very different matter altogether.
There's a big difference between a puppy barking and jumping up at you for attention and an adult dog doing the same!
We often give in to our dog's attention seeking behaviour.
We do this because we love our dogs and can't bear to ignore them or because we sometimes just want a bit of peace and quiet. We all want an easy life!
Unfortunately, doing so only teaches them that their unsociable antics work, encouraging them to do it more and more because they know it works!
What behaviour you accept from your Cocker Spaniel (or don't) is entirely down to you; it all boils down to personal choice.
And just in case you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out the following:
Attention seeking comes in many forms, some endearing and others not so charming.
We must decide which behaviours are acceptable and which are not. Those behaviours listed below are my idea of good or non-acceptable, but you should choose your own.
There are some attention seeking behaviours that I'm happy to accept, such as;
Now, who could resist that?
Unfortunately, there is other attention seeking behaviours that I'm not so happy to go along with, like the one shown in the photo above!
Please take a look below; I think you'll agree that these behaviours are simply unacceptable.
In the above examples, your Cocker Spaniel uses attention seeking behaviour to get what he wants from you.
If your Cocker Spaniel's attention seeking behaviour is getting worse and becoming a problem for you. There may be a couple of reasons for this:
You can relieve the boredom, or stop it from happening in the first place, by making sure your Cocker Spaniel has lots of stimulating toys and chew bones to keep him occupied.
Physical exercise and mental stimulation will have a calming, relaxing effect on any dog.
The best thing you can do to help stop your Spaniel from becoming bored is to burn off his excess energy and tire him out.
You can do this by ensuring he has a regular exercise, play, and training routine. (This is a good idea regardless of whether he's displaying attention seeking behaviour or not).
His routine should be something along the lines of the following:
Making sure your Cocker gets plenty of exercise and play may be enough to curb attention seeking behaviours, and you could see an improvement within a week or so!
If your Cocker's manners don't improve as much as you'd like, read on for more help and advice!
As we've seen, our pets will try to attract our attention in many different (and sometimes imaginative) ways, and our response will usually vary between:
All of these are wrong, but I'm willing to bet we're all guilty of doing the same!
By saying your dog's name or speaking to him, your dog will see this as a reward. So if you ask him to stop, be quiet, or get down, in his eyes, you're rewarding him!
Also, if you touch your dog or move him out of the way, your dog views this as rewarding him for his behaviour; you're giving him the attention he's seeking!
Our dogs soon learn to get what they want by behaving a certain way.
Unfortunately, this (unwanted) attention seeking behaviour soon becomes habitual because your dog has learned it always works!
If your dog's behaviour isn't appropriately managed, he may develop serious behavioural problems, some of which owners may find too challenging to handle.
Unfortunately, many Cocker Spaniels are currently sitting in rescue centres because of this lack of understanding.
"The recommended response is to ignore him altogether:
please 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."
When our dogs display attention seeking behaviours, we know that always giving them what they want, when they want, is inadvisable.
However, as I said earlier, it is subjective, and if you think it's okay to give your Cocker Spaniel a cuddle when he 'demands' it, that's fine.
However, I think you'll agree there are other attention seeking behaviours that we don't want and shouldn't tolerate. Behaviours such as jumping up, excessive barking or whining, for example.
We shouldn't react to our dog's behaviour. If we react, we're not only confirming that the antics have worked, but we may also be (inadvertently) helping to increase the dog's dominance by following and not leading!
My advice is to always ignore your dog's attention seeking behaviour and reward him only when he's well-behaved or quiet.
Ironically, we tend to ignore our dogs when they're quiet and (unwittingly) reward them (with touch and the sound of our voice) when they're not.
This is the exact opposite of what we should be doing!
So, the next time you see your Cocker Spaniel behaving well or resting quietly, why not gently stroke him and tell him he's a good boy?
Rewarding your dog when he's quiet will help teach him that nice things happen to him, like belly rubs or cuddles when he's good or playing quietly!
The worst punishment you can give an attention seeking dog is to deprive him of your attention and affection. So the next time he's making demands, the best thing you can do is ignore him.
Yes, I know it can be easier said than done, but trust me. Have patience, and you'll see that it really does work.
Don't react to your dog's demands.
Whatever attention seeking behaviour your dog displays, you must remain focused and not give in to his demands. Stay calm, don't speak to him, don't touch him, and don't make eye contact (he will view all these as forms of reward).
Above all, be consistent!
If moving your Cocker Spaniel to another room fails to stop his barking, you may like to consider using a barking deterrent.
If you'd like some information on how to stop your dog from barking, you'll find lots of help and advice here.
As the saying goes, 'There's no such thing as a free lunch', so make your dog work for anything you give him.
Never reward his attention seeking behaviour.
The bottom line is, if your dog wants attention, give it to him, but do so on your terms - not his!
When your Cocker Spaniel responds the way you want, you can give him what he is asking for, food, affection, etc.
Doing so will reward him for following your commands; you're rewarding your dog's good behaviour, NOT his attention-seeking behaviour!