Up to a point, it’s cute when your dog follows you all around the house and insists on being where you are. On the other hand, constant attention-seeking behavior from your pup can drive anyone a little crazy eventually, no matter how much you love your dog.
Is your dog needier than most? Why might your pup be so clingy? What can you do to stop attention-seeking behaviors? Read on for these answers and more!
Are All Dogs Attention-Seeking?
Pretty much all dogs are attention-seeking up to a point. Why? You provide their food, entertainment (toys), affection (pets), and everything else they need in life. It’s natural that dogs seek out the things they want by being a little “needy.” Additionally, dogs are social creatures and need attention as much as humans do.
However, some dogs need constant attention, which can be a little exhausting for the owner and may indicate separation anxiety or other issues.
Why Won’t My Dog Leave Me Alone?
There are a few reasons your dog may be so needy:
Puppies have nearly endless energy and haven’t learned how to amuse themselves yet, so they tend to be clingier than adult dogs.
Some dog breeds, especially companion dogs and working breeds, were created specifically for the purpose of sticking by their humans all day, so it’s in their DNA to want to be near their favorite person or people.
If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise, they may constantly pester you because they have too much energy. Longer walks or some time at daycare may help burn off that energy and make your dog less clingy.
Your dog may have separation anxiety and feel panic when they can’t be near you.
Examples of Attention-Seeking Behavior in Dogs
Here are some examples of needy, attention-seeking behavior dogs may display:
Nipping at you
Poking you with their paws or snout
Growling, whining, barking, or other “talking” nonstop
Clinging to your side at all times
Persistently nuzzling you
Licking you all over
Picking things up and running around with them
How to Stop Attention-Seeking Behavior in Dogs
Luckily, there are some things you can do if your pup’s neediness is getting to be just a little too much. Try these tips; if they don’t work, consider hiring a professional dog trainer to determine the root cause of your dog’s clinginess.
1. Ignore the Behavior
If you yell at your dog, push them away, or squirt them with a spray bottle, you’re giving them attention - even if it’s negative attention. Ignoring your dog completely when they demand your attention is ultimately more effective in getting them to stop attention-seeking. When your pup gives up and stops being needy, reward them with a treat for being calm. In time, they will learn that bugging you gets them no attention, but giving you space rewards them with treats and eventual attention.
2. Give Your Pup Plenty of Exercise
Most dogs need at least 45 minutes to an hour of exercise every day, and some breeds need a minimum of 1-2 hours of intense activity to keep them calm. A tired dog will be too busy sleeping to pester you, so try upping how much exercise you give your pup and see if their neediness calms down.
3. Provide Plenty of Toys
Does your pup have plenty of interesting toys they can play with by themselves? Food puzzles, treat balls, and peanut butter-stuffed Kongs are all great ways to keep your dog busy and out of your hair.
Seek Vet Care for Major Anxiety Issues
If your dog seems to be struggling with anxiety and freaks out every time you leave them alone, they may have an anxiety issue. Talk to your vet or a dog trainer for tips.