Improving Relationships between People Pets! &



Need Help? 

Call 1-800-372-3706
to speak to a Veterinary Behavior Technician

Paws To Speak!

Pet Behavior


Help is at your fingertips by library, email and phone.



- All Pets Library -
Treat Pet Attention Seeking Behaviors
Identify Attention Seeking Behaviors  |  Treat Resistant Pet Attention Seeking

Attention seeking behaviors are anything the pet does to get the pet parent's attention such as nudging, pawing, leaning, vocalizing, running around in circles - you name it!

Remember this rule of thumb: Anything that gets attention (rewarded) gets repeated (because it gets the pet what is wanted).

Medical Rule-Outs
Have the pet examined by a veterinarian, including a look at the inside of the pet with laboratory testing to rule out any physical discomfort or pain. Many times a change in behavior is the first sign of a medical condition. It is inhumane to try to modify a behavior that results from a medical condition until that condition is being treated appropriately.

A diagnosis of attention seeking behavior is only made after ruling out other possible causes. If the behavior is a weird or unusual, it may be necessary to videotape the pet when no one is home to discover if the behaviors occur without attention seeking.

Treat Attention Seeking Behaviors

Eliminate (extinct) all attention when the pet is performing the act, and leave the room. If the behavior involves touching, just stand up (removing the lap or leg) and walk away. Don't push the pet away since it may interpret this as forceful play and respond in kind.

Increase exercise
This is helpful in virtually every behavior concern. In this case it includes positive interaction (attention) while performing an acceptable behavior. Be sure that the play or other exercise begins at least 5 seconds or more after the pet stops the objectionable behavior, or they might think the play is a reward. A great exercise for the hyper dog is to purchase a "Springer" attachment for your bicycle, and get the dog tired on a daily basis.

If the obnoxious behavior is predictable (e.g. see the dog coming to muzzle or paw), try to anticipate the act, and give a command (SIT) before the pet begins the behavior. If the pet sits on command, give lavish praise, and even a food treat. If it ignores the command either leave, or insist they follow the command. After giving the command once, back away a few steps, then call and repeat the SIT command a few times. This gives the pet an alternative behavior to obtain attention. Repetition speeds the learning process.

The pet parent must begin to give the pet more attention for acceptable behaviors when working to phase out unacceptable behavior.

The personality of the pet that participates in attention seeking behavior is often dependent and somewhat emotionally anxious. This personality type benefits from daily routine. To the extent feasible, try for regular feeding, training, exercise and play sessions. It is recommended to provide food in twice daily meals (no dry food during day) and spend about 15 minutes in play or training just before each meal.

Another way to increase the confidence of a slightly anxious and hyper insecure pet is to provide clear strong positive leadership. This includes frequent surprise commands (including down-stays), going through doorways first, and requiring compliance with an obedience command (e.g. Come, Sit, Down, Heel, etc) before the pet obtains any reward. This also includes rewards like dinner, coming indoors, going for a walk, or obtaining petting. For cats, compliance may mean coming, retrieving, or tolerating a body massage. Avoid any yelling or harsh tone, since this is threatening, and counterproductive.

Reward relaxed non-solicitive behavior
Try to catch the pet acting in an acceptable way, and praise generously. This is often difficult for people who are used to responding to inappropriate behavior, and ignoring what is normal and acceptable. If the pet is simply resting and minding its own business, approach and give warm affectionate petting. If the pet does not react negatively when sleeping, this is an excellent time to praise calm relaxed body posture, and give a whole body luxurious massage. The message to give the pet is that it will receive the attention it desires, by acting in calm, relaxed, acceptable ways.

...::::::: Copyright 2004 - 2006 Animal Behavior Network :::::::...