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Treat Resistant Pet Attention Seeking
Identify Pet Attention Seeking  |  Treat Pet Attention Seeking Behaviors

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 laboratory testing to try to determine if there is a physiological component to the insecurity or anxiety.

The diagnosis of attention seeking behavior is based on ruling out other possible causes, then initiating treatment and observing for improvement. If the problem is a weird or unusual behavior, it may be necessary to videotape the pet while all people have actually left the house, since pets continue as long as they sense a person on the premises.

Treat Resistant Pet Attention Seeking Behaviors

Time Outs
It may be necessary to give the pet a "time-out" if the attention seeking behavior does not stop when it's ignored. A time out means that either you leave the room or you put the pet in another room for a short time of social isolation. This is a punishment because you are taking away something the pet wants, in this case the pet does not want to be away from you and your attention.  A time out should be no longer than five minutes for learning to take place.


After rejoining the pet, try to set up the same circumstances that result in the pet repeating the unwanted attention seeking behavior.  If this behavior occurs, repeat the time-out. The pet will learn much more quickly, if you demonstrate cause and effect a few times in a row or within a short period of time.


Corrections are the last resort because the pet may still prefer a correction to no attention. The best corrections are "environmental" ones. This means the pet does not associate the correction with the pet parent but instead perceives this response came from the environment.


Examples of environmental corrections and interruptions (if the pet does NOT see you associated with them) are sudden noises, objects or water flying through the air. NEVER throw anything at your pet only nearby. 


Very rarely, and only as a last resort with supervision from a veterinary behaviorist or positive methods trainer, you may need to have the consequence product something more unpleasant (NEVER painful) such as using a scent or electric collar.


It is very important that the owner not say anything, or call any attention to themselves during these corrections. The "thing" does the correction, not you.


Remember that your pet will choose negative attention over no attention.  Your attention needs to be carefully applied to your pet's learning.


Medications are reserved for those few cases that do not respond to routine treatment. Before beginning any medication, the pet needs a complete medical exam by a veterinarian including blood work to check internal organ function. A veterinarian needs to administer and monitor medications in cooperation with a veterinary behavior consultant to provide maximum safety and behavior modification results. 

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