A simple and effective technique to tame a demanding, bossy, or needy dog (Updated)
Someone once told me that dogs are natures greatest manipulators. I wish I could remember who that was.
It doesn’t matter because the message is 100% on point with this article. And I agree with it.
Hear me out. We all know that certain dogs can be pushy and demanding. They bark, stare us down, throw a paw up, whine, and literally get in our faces. All in the pursuit for attention. And in many cases, they’re incredibly insistent and unrelenting in their attempts.
In their defense, this insistent behavior usually comes about because we’ve somehow trained it into them. Yes, you read that right.
Often enough our unruly or bad mannered dog is a direct result of actions we’ve taken, or have neglected to take. In other words, behavior we’ve either created or enabled in some sense.
What does this mean?
Again and again, behavior that is considered annoying, even if just slightly, goes unchecked and over time becomes worse. In scientific speak, a behavior that is allowed to continue grows stronger.
Many of these behaviors are self-reinforcing, meaning that the activity or the outcome is rewarding. So what may have been something easily avoidable at the beginning becomes deeply ingrained over time. It now is a strong part of the dogs ongoing repertoire of activities.
Ever walk past the same house and each time have the family dog bark incessantly at you? Bet you he barks that way at everyone and everything that passes the house. That’s because, while that family is away at work or school, that dog has been practicing the same behavior repeatedly, often non-stop. Over time the repetition conditions a well rehearsed skill that is difficult to stop.
So how do you deal with a pushy, bossy, or demanding dog?
Try this approach…
Simply ignore it.
Right now you’re thinking this is the most ridiculous dog training advice you’ve read on the internet, but hang in there and hear me out.
Ignoring an unwanted behavior WILL make it stop over time.
This is called extinction in the dog training world. The caveat here is that it may take a very long time before your dog makes the connection and you’ll need to exercise a great deal of patience in the meantime.
How does it work?
Ever have someone turn their back on you during a conversation or argument?
Doesn’t feel good, does it?
It may actually make you angry and defensive.
Thankfully dogs aren’t exactly like humans in this way. They won’t take personal offense and want to get into a fight over it but they’ll certainly get the message that you’re attempting to disengage from them. Since the behavior goes unrewarded the dog eventually arrives at the realization that doing the behavior isn’t worth it since it gets him nowhere. It’s simple associative learning, and this is the primary way dogs learn. Through association and consequences. Negative or positive consequences.
The Secret is in the details (and in your effort)
Say Poochie is barking at you for attention (again, if he’s doing it regularly it’s because he’s most likely learned that it sometimes gets results), maybe he wants you to rub or pet him, or play with him, or you’re cooking and he wants a treat from the kitchen.
Turn away from him.
Don’t make eye contact and don’t talk to him. When he moves to face you once more, as he will most likely do, turn away from him again. Refuse to acknowledge him and give in to his tantrums.
What you’re actually doing is providing the dog with a different consequence to the same behavior. It’s a consequence he won’t like since the dog has by now been so accustomed to getting what he wants. In essence, you’re removing the reward for his demanding actions.
If you are faithful to this approach (and by that I mean 100% consistent) then the dog will begin to form a new association. And that association is that the activity is no longer worth his efforts because it is no longer reinforced.
What more can you do?
Replace the aggravating behavior with an activity which you deem acceptable. For example, once he has barked his fool head off trying to get your attention, and only after he has calmed down, guide him to a comfortable spot (think a warm blanket or bed) and reward him for that. Cue this by naming it “Place” and reinforcing it with a food reward. The catch is that he only gets the reward while on his bed.
Initially, ignoring your dog will frustrate him – but that’s the point. It will also teach him that bossy and demanding behaviors will get him nothing from you.
A few tips about this approach…
– To be successful at this, and anything else for that matter, you must be consistent. Don’t apply this technique once in a while or only when you’re in the mood but every single time he exhibits demanding behavior.
– That means that you do not give in. Under any circumstances. Stand your ground. Be strong, but calm. Dog behavior doesn’t change overnight. You participated in the creation of this mess so now you have to put the work in to undo it.
– Remember that simply looking down at him and asking him to be quiet is all the reinforcement he may need. He’s gotten your attention and that’s good enough for him. Don’t do it. Ignore him.
– Don’t stare at him thinking you’ll intimidate him into stopping his obnoxious behavior. In the best case scenario he’ll just feel he’s gotten your attention and he wins again (see how tricky and sly he is?). In the worse case, he’ll perceive your hard stare as a threat. Not good.
Now, go give it a try.
Before you go, watch how these dogs find their marks (pigeons) and make suckers out of them.
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Also, check out my podcast on this page. It’s filled with more educational stuff for you and your dog. Subscribe and review.
This is great advice I’m going to start this right now. Thanks
I am going to try this on my bossy and demanding sister and see if it works. By the way, She is 54.
Let me know how that works out for you.
OMG. This has got to be the funniest response ever…I can not stop laughing. Good one, you made my week.
I have been ignoring my dog for a week now and this method works wonders. No eye contact no talking no touching when we are in the house but a lot of reward and treats on walks when he is tired and relaxed. His behaviour gone worse maybe around day 3 but this is becuse he was giving me everything he had in him whining his heart out seeking my attention. But we are past that point. It will be hard it will be demanding but this method works. We have JRT rescued from a death row who had many many health and behavioural issues. Thank you for sharing
That’s fantastic! His ongoing whining is just the leftovers of a demanding and entitled mindset. It’s natural for them to rebel when they’re so accustomed to getting away with things for so long. Good luck to you and keep up the great work!
This does NOT work for my dog. She will bark constantly for at least 2-3 hours. That is the longest I can go with her barking. It doesn’t allow me to watch TV, talk on the phone or anything. Not even leaving the room works. I need to keep her in her crate during the day due to chewing just about anything in sight. As soon as I drive into the driveway the barking starts and won’t stop. I can ignore her for hours on on end and the barking does not stop. Same goes for when she wants the chew toy my other dog has. She barks to no end. Well until I take it away from both of them. But that isn’t fair to my other dog either.
Danielle, I apologize that it has taken me so long to respond to you. Let me tell you quickly that, based on your description, it appears that you have a larger and more pressing problem than a dog that simply exhibits demanding or bratty behavior. Your dog may be dealing with a high level of anxiety and this may be dictating all of the behaviors that you’re describing. I would strongly suggest that you seek the help or an experienced professional trainer in your area. The chewing and excessive barking may be symptoms of a larger underlying issue. Good luck.
I would ignore if I could but her attention seeking behaviour is to stand on her hind legs and quite literally “punch” me in the head with her fore paws.
It hurts a bit and is extremely distracting when I’m trying to watch TV or use the computer.
If the head punch fails to get my attention she grabs my clothes and pulls – I have holes in quite a few items of clothing now – she’ll also chew on my chair.
She KNOWS she isn’t allowed to do any of these things but she’s very defiant (will scream while she does it in her “tantrum” voice).
Because the tantrum voice is really quite ridiculous (it’s like a high pitched trill), I actually find it hard not to laugh and that’s probably a major issue. I probably can’t use the ignore technique – I usually just send her to her bed or another room when she’s behaving like that (for some reason she always obeys – I suppose because she won and got my attention).
Miss Cellany, I agree with your description of the behavior as a “tantrum” because that is exactly what is going on with your dog. I also applaud your willingness to recognize that you may in some manner be contributing to the problem. That’s wise and a step in the right direction. This is one possible outcome of dogs when they are “ignored”, and that is that they accelerate and intensify the behavior in an effort to extract a result from you. And typically they succeed, thus the reinforcement of the behavior continues. It sounds as if your dog is taking these steps to an extreme. Continue to remove her from your space as you’ve been doing. Two suggestions…first, simply asking her to leave may not work (it might, but I’m not there to determine that). You may need to physically remove her. By that I mean that you would place a leash on her and walk her to a location where she won’t have direct access to you, a crate or separate room for example. Second, timing is everything. Your impulse should be to remove her immediate at the sign of her first misbehavior. Good luck.
obnoxious behavior like this from a big dog is a dog that hasn’t been exercised daily. and i don’t mean a walk around the block. i mean miles. stop buying big dogs people if you aren’t going to sufficiently exercise them and expect them to be put in a room when they’re displaying lots of energy (the energy that should be exercised out DAILY)
As I am readying this, my mixed terrier is growl talking at me. I must learn to ignore him from now on. Both of my dogs are rescues and constantly demand my attention, and like an idiot I have allowed it.
Not anymore! Ill let you know who backs down first lol…
Well Wendy, it sounds as if you’re keenly aware of what’s going on and how you contributed to the problem. That’s good. Some owners are in denial and refuse to accept blame. That doesn’t help address the issues. Just one tip…a growl (no matter how cute) is a different behavior all together. Since I’m not there to witness it for myself it’s almost impossible to determine exactly what’s going on but be alert to any kind of growling. It may not be coming from a good place. Good luck.
My puppy is very needy and hyper. If I don’t give her attention she chews on anything. The crate didn’t work she moves it all over the place. If I go out without her she barks. Neighbors complained…. I feel like a prisoner. This is my first dog and I have no idea how pups are supposed to act. I feel overwhelmed and defeated.
Yessie, You’re going to need to make a decision to stand strong and work your way through this problem and the best way to do that is to have a plan and stick to it. First, I don’t understand how your pup is moving the crate “all over the place”. Get yourself a sturdy crate that is the right size for her and make a habit of placing her in while your out or during those moments when she gets to be too much. Don’t give up on this because you felt you weren’t getting the results you wanted at first. The crate is your friend during this time so don’t be afraid to use it. Second, think of the ways that you may be contributing to the problem or enabling it in a sense. Are you letting the dog out of the crate when she barks? Are you giving in to demanding behavior, such as barking, pawing, whining, etc.? You’re only creating a lifelong pattern if that’s the case. Have you begun obedience training? This helps with focus and impulse control. Is your dog anxious or fearful? There are many variables that I wouldn’t be able to address unless I saw the dog. If all else fails get a local trainer to come to your house and provide you with additional information. A good trainer can inform you of many management approaches that might work for you and begin the basics of training. Good luck.
My did is No problem except in the mornings. He barks insistently until we get up and then barks until we take him for a walk. The problem is, it is first thing in the morning so even though I can ignore him he will get what he wants in the end. we are always going to get up and I am going to take him for a walk after breakfast. I just don’t want to have to go through 2 hrs of barking every morning first. How do I deal with this?
First off understand that you continuing to walk him while he barks only reinforces and enables the problem. The solution is simple, but not easy. There are a variety of things you can try such as teaching him to quiet down while rewarding silence. Work this with treats for some time, throw in a cue for the quiet, and you should be able to get him to stop the barking on command. You’ll need to insist on quiet, calm behavior before going out with him. The other thing I question is whether or not your dog is dealing with a certain level of anxiousness which can often be attributed to this kind of nonstop activity.
My dog goes crazy at least 4 times a day barking and arguing; throwing a tantrum like a little baby.
I did this method and it worked in 5 mins.. she got angry lay down beside me and just stared at me. We she was starting to nod off I rewarded her with a treat.
Did I handle this okay? or should I have not rewarded her.
Rewarding is fine. Rewarding is what you want to do. The catch is the timing of the reward. In this instance you’re going to reward her the moment she quiets down thus you’ll be reinforcing relaxed and calm behavior and not the obnoxious behavior. Everything else you’re doing sounds on point. Be patient and wait her out. She gets nothing until you get what you want first – in this case, calmness. Keep it up.
I’m going to try this. It’s already worked somewhat with our puppy. Especially while we are eating at the table he will bark constantly for attention and he is wanting what we eat. We do not feed him people food. We both ignored him and did not make eye contact.
Rebecca, Consistency is the key to everything. In fact, it’s the lack of consistency that causes most failure in dog training. Don’t quit! Good luck.
How do we get him to sleep in his bed again? He wants to sleep on us all the time now except at night.
Rebecca, Crate train him.
And how can I better train him to stop barking without yelling? Sorry for so many questions. Having a hard time with him. Thanks
No problem Rebecca. I don’t know what or why he’s barking. Is it alert barking, demanding barking, etc. Determine what the source or trigger is an address that. Find a way to either remove the trigger or remove the dog from the trigger environment. If it’s demanding barking then realize that you may have contributed to this behavior. Ignore the barking and reward the silence. If you give in to the his demands he will learn never to stop.
This method works somewhat with our dog, but only when it is myself or my husband. If anyone else is at our house, even if he knows them, he is relentless in his pursuit of attention and seeks it not just by barking but by nipping at their feet or shoes. We try to ignore him as much as possible but at some point, it actually hurts and he literally won’t stop unless we play with him. Often, as soon as it is just my husband and I in the house again with him, he is calm and happy to sleep the day away. He is a rescue and we have been working on socializing him by bringing him to other houses and inviting people over to ours. He has gotten better in that he no longer displays any aggressive behavior toward our guests, but he continues to be very obnoxious. Any advice on how to deal with this, especially the mouthy behavior?
A few things to point out…
1. Nipping at feet or shoes is not a good thing.
2. He is escalating his demanding efforts in order to get the attention he craves.
Understand that this is a learned behavior. We humans invariably help create or enable these actions by allowing them to continue. Because no one is providing the dog with clear information and guidance consistently he continues along the same path. Any behavior that is practiced and rehearsed gets stronger with time, so will his demanding attitude. I don’t know what you mean by “he no longer displays any aggressive behavior” but nipping at feet or shoes may be defined as an aggressive display of behavior. This extends beyond general excitement and obnoxiousness. You’re dog may be highly aroused during these times and unable to control his emotional state or his actions. Arousal is something you want to watch out for as it can also become a learned way of reacting to certain stimuli and tip into aggression.
Think in terms of both training and management. Start ramping up your obedience training efforts. Skills such as “sit” and “watch me” can help a dog refocus on the owner as opposed to going nuts at certain triggers. This, however, may not always work. Often it doesn’t work initially but only after a period of time working on the skills. If the distraction is too strong you’ll need to consider removing him from the scene entirely until he’s in a calmer state of mind. This is managing the situation. In other words, he’s already showing you that left to his own devices he’ll make the wrong choices by barking and nipping. The stimulation is too much for him to handle and this is no frame of mind for any dog to be meeting another dog or human. Try crating him in a separate space, or behind a baby gate. Insist and demand calmness. Also, think of your guest. I’m sure they don’t find a nippy, barking, charging dog pleasant.
The ignore method really does work.
My lab and jack russell used to pester me incessantly for food in the morning, so I would acknowledge and greet them AFTER I have my coffee & breakfast. Now I can eat in peace and they wait until after I am done. I managed to curb their bugging me for my pretzels and peanut butter this way too. But, being a jack russell is a smart dog, he figured out on his own if he brings me his peanut butter kong and sits quietly next to me, I will fill it will goodies for him.
Yes, you have to project that you are the alpha dog just like it would be in a dog pack. My dogs respect me and my wishes because of that and have good manners (most of the time). Dogs are not stupid.
My wife needs to work on this as they get their way with her often.
Tom, part of becoming a leader is establishing a set of rules and living by those rules. It sounds as if you have a strong handle on the situation. Good luck.
My black Labrador is an absolute master at manipulating my family to get his own way. While entirely adorable, I am under no illusions that he, largely, rules the roost and we are entirely at fault for responding (rewarding) this behaviour.
I want to reboot the situation, and am keen to try several of your methods mentioned in this article. However, my dog, with any training will, after a short while, start to anticipate your next command (with a 99.9% accuracy of what you were going to ask him!) which kind of puts him back in the driving seat! It’s really annoying after a while! Also, he will then seek ways to deliver a ‘bad’ behaviour in order to beautifully carry out the correction – in order to get the desired treat! Maddening! Although highly amusing to watch.
Therefore, I try to move away from using treats as quickly as possible once he has learned something, and every time, soon after, he will just stop following the command!
Any help you can offer would be very, very gratefully received.
It’s difficult to give you a more accurate approach without a specific example of his behavior. However, if you’re issue is pertaining to actions along the lines of a bossy, pushy, and demanding attitude and you’re not able to achieve any resolution then one possibility may be consistency. That’s consistency on your part. If we address a problem at certain times while turning a blind eye to it during others then it’s reasonable to assume that the dog won’t clearly get the message. In his mind he may view it as, “sometimes I get away with it, and sometimes I don’t”. This ensure that he’ll continue to make attempts in the hopes of occasional successes. It’s random reinforcement at work. Could this be what you’re dealing with?
Yes I think your on the right track. Random reinforcement is what we are doing, my dog is very tenacious.
However, he is also unfortunately overweight & I would prefer not to treat him at all which also makes training difficult (I’ve also tried using his weighed out kibble from his daily allowance – he’s not interested in that).
Can you suggest any training methods that are not treat based?
In terms of examples of his behaviour, here’s one of many – I used special treats while out on our walks to try and improve his recall. After a few days, he would quite literally start running off ahead of me, while looking back over his shoulder now & then to check I was watching – simply to try and get me to recall him – so he could have a treat – it’s very obvious when he does it, by his body language etc, that it’s entirely fake (& both extremely funny and annoying at the same time, although I do make a point of not laughing) and goes back to him pre-empting me and quite literally turning the tables on me each time, so that any ‘training’ always ends up benefiting him more than me!
Your thoughts would be gratefully received. Many Thanks Lisa
Don’t give up on the treat training just yet. If you’re concerned about him gaining weight then be sure to balance out his “training treats” with his normal kibble. In other words, half a cup of training treats means half a cup less kibble at dinner time. Also, just because he isn’t taking his normal kibble during training doesn’t mean he won’t at all. You’ll need to manipulate a few variables.
– If he’s free grazing his meals you’ll want to put an end to that. Give him 10 minutes to finish his food in the morning and evening and remove it from the floor once that time is up, whether he’s finished it or not. Condition him to understand that the food will only be available for a short time. If he doesn’t eat one meal he’ll eat the next.
– Cut back on random treats. Only reinforce training moments (and there should be plenty of those).
– Consider using his meals for training purposes only so that he has to work for his meals.
All of this can help create an increased appetite for his food and thus motivation for training.
It sounds as if the recall is working but you may be asking for too much too soon. Work the recall during times when there are low distractions. Use your walk as a means of exercise and mental stimulation.
I accidentally put the comment I wanted to write in the contact section. Anyway, I have a rescue lab, 8yrs old and has been with me for 2.5 weeks. He’s super needy and constantly in my face. He jumps on me when I’m on the couch and I’ve ignored him. He’s gotten better for the most part, but also worse at times where he’s super attention-seeking when he needs to go out. It’s to the point where I can’t put my shoes on without him in my face. How do I ignore the behavior without him marking in the house? He’s peed on the couch 3x now. I’ve started clicker training this weekend and am working on teaching him to fetch on the weekends. He’s gotten better with impulse control, but not the attention-seeking neediness when I get home from work. He still jumps up on me although I turn away. He’s super excitable at any given time.
Thank in advance
There may be a few things at work here and since I’m unable to see what he actually does you may want to consider the following..
– A dog which has become accustomed to getting what he wants (for example, attention) may continue to make his attempts even when ignored. In fact, his efforts may increase.
– I would think that his demanding behavior is not entirely related to bathroom breaks but more to a conditioned response that has become almost habitual.
– Consider management in addition to training. Perhaps crating him at certain times or placing him on the opposite side of a baby gate may help you with his out-of-control activity.
– Are you certain he’s properly crate trained?
Hi, hope you don’t mind me asking this, i have a 7 month old bullmastiff iv had him since he was 8 weeks old we immediately started crate trainig and basic obedience and he’s been an amazing dog EXCEPT just lately hes started winjing in his crate whoch he has been in nightly since we got him, yesterday he destroyed his bed and bulldozed the babygate down and he has a habbit of pushing his heavy self into us when we are sat on the sofa to beg for attention he sometimes even trys to put his front paws onto us and lean his head in, my OH thinks he ‘just wants a fuss’ but i think he is invadng personal space and takes it to an extreme when visitors come, covering them in hairs, he rarey barks so thats a big phew but he is VERY demanding for a fuss, i always insist we stand up and turn our backs on him when he does this aswell as not acknowledging bad behaviour or him when we first walk into a room that he is in however he seems to be getting more clingy and nealy flattened my 6 year old through trying to get his fuss from him, im not sure if hes trying to assert dominance or ask to be protected but im not sure what to do and i dont want this behaviour to get worse, do you have any advice? He is 38kg now so he is a heavy big dog and i dont want him to injure kids through this pushy behaviour… any response would be much appreciated
These kind of issues, while extremely common, can get overwhelming quickly. There are a few things that come to mind. You’re going to need to be mindful of what you’re rewarding. There may be certain things you or another family member is doing that makes that dog understand that his behavior is acceptable. I’m referring to the pawing and demand for attention. It is true that he doesn’t respect personal space (most young dogs don’t) but it’s up to you entirely to set the limit and standard of acceptable behavior. Perhaps you’re reinforcing the attention seeking in some manner? Also, you’re other issues makes me wonder if you’re meeting the dogs basic needs on a consistent basis. Is he on a regular diet of daily mental and physical stimulation? Plenty of exercise? At his age he needs it and not having those needs met can bring it’s on lot of behavioral problems.
This is in no way related to dominance or a need to assert himself as the superior species. Here are a few things to consider.
1. His pushiness and neediness can be attempts at getting attention. Attention is part of engagement and fun, it’s also natural for dogs to seek out attention. But it can become a nuisance when he isn’t taught limits and respect for personal space. Like any negative behavior this can become a learned or conditioned response when it is repeatedly reinforced/rewarded. This can escalate to the point where a dog has difficulty being alone or separated from humans. Or can create a dog that is excessively demanding in his efforts to get attention.
2. Humans can contribute to this by fostering unhealthy relationships with their dogs. Unhealthy attachments manifest in needy, clingy, and anxious dogs – and humans.
3. Consider his basic needs. Dogs that don’t get a daily diet of mental and physical stimulation are likely to develop behavioral problems. In fact, not meeting these basic needs is one of the primary reason why they develop. A 7 month old dog, especially one the size of a bullmastiff, will possibly require a great deal of exercise and activity. This should be your first consideration when troubleshooting a problem with dogs.
Hey there Armando! I have a 9 month old German Shepherd who I have trained to be my ptsd service animal. He’s amazing! Smart, eager to learn, but pushy. When training, if I do not give cues quick enough for him, he will woof at me, not quite a full bark. He is a little dominant, sometimes gets nippy with my hands when playing with a toy or if I’m texting he tries to nip my fingers. I’ve started your technique, but wondered if there’s any other ideas you could give me?
Also, he can not contain himself when people come. Most of my friends and family are dog lovers, and do the no touch, no talk, no eye contact, when they come in as I have instructed. I (try) to make him sit, but he does this dance and runs around in circles trying to jump on my guest. I use a leash and collar whenever someone comes to the door to try to keep him in cheque. I use a portion of his kibble as “treats” in a pack, and normally while training he is hyper alert on the food. Working on patience by extending the length of time between cue and click/treat.but when people come to the door there is nothing that gets through to him. He is walked twice a day for an hour each time, training then as well.
Also my resque becoming from time to time demanding, i like her getting confidence as she was so fearful… i will try to ignore few behaviors….but i love her confidence now… we as humans must never feel threatened by our domestic animals they are a product of our behavier if you love and respect and yeach your pet and give everything they need they will never be a problem ? Only joy and pleasure.!!
I agree that they are often a product of our actions and inactions.
I googled “MY PITT IS VERY NEEDY AND WANTS ME TO PET HIM ALL THE TIME” and this article came up…and boy, did I need to read this…
Glad I could help Tina!
I found this page after a nightmare night with my 7month old sheltie pup. He has always been attention seeking, and vocal but over time we seemed to be able to manage it the majority of the time. Until we neutered him a couple of weeks ago then he became unwell post op not eating , turns out the anaesthesia , non steroidals and then no eating caused stomach issues. Anyway he is much improved health wise but the barking and demanding attention is ridiculous. Particularly at night obviously when he was ill he would bark I’d get up let him out to be sick or move his bowels, so now he is well he barks I believe just to see me. Well last night I decided just to ‘ignore’ him omg he barked barked and barked which at 4am woke the whole house and quite possibly the whole Street ?. I’ve sent apologies to my neighbours today but I failed miserably because I went in to his room when he was barking showing him he won. So obviously once he was up he barked for more attention and more barking omg I swear my husband may leave it’s so bad,(slight exaggeration) but he hates the barking so much, his anger puts me on edge and not feeling in control. Your page has helped today but anymore suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Not sure if the dog is crated but if not you might want to do that. This is something you’ll want to teach as opposed to simply throwing him in and closing him in. Cover the crate with a blanket and create a den for him. Make sure he’s had plenty of exercise and time to do his business prior to bedtime. You may also want to practice placing him in his crate during the day when the barking may be more tolerable. Do this for short periods of time, say 30 minutes for each attempt. Dogs, especially young ones, can get easily stimulated throughout the day and have difficulty settling at night. Above all, do not take him out of the crate if he is giving you is demanding barking. You’re right in that this is a learned behavior. He has learned to ask for something and has been rewarded/reinforced for his efforts. You must be very careful that you’re not continuing to reward the barking.
If people don’t care for a dog’s natural behavior, they shouldn’t have dogs. I think all this training and trying to break a dog’s spirit is stressful for dogs and probably contributes to health problems. My royal highness Rexie reigns supreme in our home. What Rexie wants Rexie gets. He’s a bossy very pampered and coddled dog. I love dogs and respect that they are goofs for the most part and appreciate them for what they are, dogs. Rexie is a toy sized fluff morkie (Maltese/Yorkie “designer dog”) i.e. expensive mutt. Potential owners are advised that they generally end up spoiled and I attribute it to the cuteness factor and their amazing personalities.
I have a 2 year chihuahua mix who bugs the heck out of us in the evening when we are trying to watch tv and wind down for the day. I realize now that he wants attention. He sits straight up and looks so adorable. My husband and I keep asking him what he wants and he just looks at us like we don’t understand him. Vnothing we do will make him stop. We don’t know if he wants to go out, wants a treat or what and he won’t keep bugging us. im at the point of wanting to get rid of him. If I just turn my back on him to ignore him, then what should I do?
It’s likely that there are other ways in which you’re reinforcing the behavior. It may not be a bad idea to seek out the help of a trainer in your area.
I have a puppy who throws barking tantrums when she wants her way. AFter reading this article, I noticed when she does this to a dog who is visiting us, he just turns his head away and makes no eye contact and she stopped barking at him and walked away….if it works for him, I think it will work for us humans.
That’s a great example Sonia.
We’ve been using the ignore technique to help correct a lot of unwanted behavior in our boxer mutt, and it has worked great. There is still one issue that we are trying to iron out with him when ever we come across another dog he goes into a full tantrum because we won’t let him play with that dog, grabbing and tugging his leash, jumping and kicking like a hooked Marlin, and making noises that you would think I’m beating him to death. I try ignoring him but in the interest of keeping my arm in it’s socket it seems the only to get him to listen, kind of, is to get into his face. Any suggestions would be great, and my back and arms will thank you
Kris, there is alot to unravel here and you might be able to use the help of a professional in your area. The equipment you use, the manner in which you walk him, you’re own handling skills, all are variables that could swing this one way or another. Seek out the help of a trainer before it escalates into something out of control. Good luck.
I rescued my pup from the pound and she is troublesome. I have had her for 6 months and she is now a year old. She is extremely bossy and thinks she owns everything. She jumps all over furniture and all over me. She is also play biting/mouthing still. I think she’s doing this to get attention from me. I would like to ignore her so she knows her place but she is still having potty training troubles so I am watching her like a hawk 24/7. Also when she is outside alone she eats anything and everything and then throws it up in the house. How can I ignore her behavior, but keep an eye on her so she doesn’t have accidents or eat unwanted objects? If you have any suggestions, I would be extremely gratful.
Rachel, this extends beyond simple attention seeking behavior to be ignored. This is behavioral and I suggest you seek the help of a local professional. You’re describing overstimulation, a lack of focus, and a dog that may be easily triggered. She needs a great deal of Manaus day guidance and you need help from someone who can show you how to do that. Good luck.
We have a 3 year old beagle (mostly) that we adopted from the local shelter. She was just about 1 then and had two issues: she used her mouth and had to always be touching someone. We stopped the mouthing. Attention is still a problem. What I’m really interested in are two new behaviors. She steals food. From counter, table, even hand if she sees an opportunity, And for about a month now she has begun howling to be let back in the house when she is ready. I’m fine with her giving a scratch or bark to let us know she’s there. But recently she has begun howling immediately. The hound howl. We go to get her quickly because we don’t want neighbor trouble. My husband and I would like to make her an outside dog but we will not be able to if she’s doing this.
Hi Christina, the first issue can be controlled by exercising greater management over her. Or keep food away from counters. Or both. The second issue is the bases of this article/post and I hope you understand and see how you created this and are in the process of making it worse. Let’s break it down super quickly…
She barks and howls and you run to let her in. What do you think is happening in that moment and what do you think is the association being formed in the dogs mind? It’s simple. She makes a racket and you bail her out of the backyard. This ensures that she’ll never stop. What you’re describing is the escalation of nuisance behavior.
I have had a needy attention-grabber rescue dog for about 2 months; she’s very good about taking direction and ignoring her works well. What I wonder is how much attention is ok? She wants cuddling desperately and I feel bad about making her unhappy but afraid to encourage her pushy behavior.
This is not an issue of placing a limit on attention but of “is the attention on your terms or the dogs?”. When the dog learns to get the attention at will then it’s likely that it’s on her terms.
We adopted a pitbull from our local shelter about a week ago. She is sweet but very needy. She wont go outside to to potty unless we go out with her. If we try and close the door she whines and scratches the door. We left her home last Sunday to go to church and she tore all the screens off the windows. What do we do?
First, you’re giving her too much freedom too soon. She’s learning demanding behaviors as well as possible overstimulation. Second, you might be dealing with hints of separation or isolation anxiety. It’s not possible to diagnose with further Qurans actual observation. You might want to consult with a local professional.
Oh? What do you mean by to much freedom? What should I do?
My wife and I just got a new puppy.
She’s 7 weeks old and is a Poodle Samoyed mix.
We’ve had her for about 3 days now and we’re crate training her.
It’s been difficult to ignore her barks/whines while she’s in her crate.
We’ve been getting up approx 5-6 hours after putting her to bed to let her outside to pee/poop #puppyBladder
This morning when I woke up, we had a small breakthrough; when I got up I just ignored her and ate my breakfast and read this blog post on my phone.
Eventually, she stopped barking and we let her out and praised her after about 20 seconds of silence.
What we don’t know is how long do we wait after she’s been quiet before we praise her; is 20 seconds enough?
She also likes to nip at toes, fingers, clothing, blankets, wood cabinets, our deck.
I’m assuming this is mostly a result of her teething, but the toes, fingers and other soft things seem to be just to get attention.
Should we be nipping biting in the butt now?
We have a few chew toys for her and she does occasionally use them.
It sounds as if you’re on the right track. Begin praising and rewarding the behavior in small increments. So if she gives you silence for 10 seconds, take it and reinforce. Increase that to 20 seconds, then 30, then 45, then a minute, you get the point. Through consistency and sustained practice she’ll become better acclimated to the crate.
As for the other behaviors, she’s a very young pup so much of what you are describing is to be expected. However, you don’t want to continue rewarding it by allowing it to go on. Make sure that she has plenty of proper chew toys and structured play activities when she’s outside of the crate. You’ll also want to be mindful that she doesn’t get too overstimulated. At those times it’s best to give her a short break and that may include placing her in a crate. Puppies need plenty of rest time just like small children.
Thanks for the reply.
She’s gotten a lot better while in her crate, she only really barks when we leave the house after putting her in her crate.
But even then, she stops barking pretty quickly.
When we put her in her crate at night, or during the day when we’re around, she’s pretty good and just sleeps.
She still nips and scratches a lot, but we’re trying to redirect her with her toys when she does.
The main issue that we’re currently having is that she loves digging and going into the garden when she’s in the backyard.
We usually have to go and grab her from the garden.
So far, she knows these commands: sit, lay down and come (when she feels like it, not when she’s in the garden).
Amazing information thanks you did good job.
Happy to help.
Hey, I just wanted to say thanks for posting! I just rescued a SEVERELY neglected boxer from the shelter and he is quite possibly the best dog in the world. However, somehow he instantly got extremely, borderline overly attached to me. This is great for leash and other behavioral training, but very difficult in the home where he never gets so much as a foot away from me. Even after long walks and tons of love! So in the course of reading this post and commenting on it so far, I’ve just tried ignoring him and for the first time (no exaggeration) he has finally gone out on his own. I will reward him with treats at random for a while to encourage this! I do have a stupid question tho, at what point is it too much? For example, I want to keep this good relationship, but I also don’t want him to feel like he’s at risk of being further neglected.
Great question. Your case is different in that the dogs Attachment behaviors are not necessarily born out of anything you’ve done but are more a byproduct of his past neglectful experiences. I would say don’t overthink it. You may be the first person in a very long time that he feels he has some connection to. And from your point of you, it shouldn’t be too difficult to understand why he may be somewhat anxious at the prospect of potentially losing you. Keep up what you’re doing. Rewards are a fantastic idea. Give him a good home with plenty of structure and make him feel safe.
Every night we’ve been leaving our 4 month old puppy in an exercise pen, where inside the pen he has his crate in which he sleeps in. Every morning, we will hear him whining, barking, and pawing at the play pen until one of us has to come out and get him out. It’s almost as if he doesn’t sleep through the night regardless of how many walks we’ve taken him on and having family playtime. I would get up at 6 AM and find him sitting in the play pen, waiting to be let out. During these episodes, I’ve tried to tell him to “sit” in order to be let out, but he keeps ignoring me and continues to bark and whine. What would you recommend me to do in this situation? Should I be standing and turning my back towards him and not even bother telling him to “sit” (maybe talking to him, even asking him for a command, is reinforcing his behavior) ? We have the same problem after I get him out the play pen, where I try to take a nap on the couch and he’s getting up at the couch, asking to be pulled up to be near me. He kept barking like crazy; should I just turn my back towards him ? Thank you so much
You’re reinforcing the behaviors of barking and whining by letting him out of the crate or pen at those times. Since dogs think in associative terms he immediately makes a connection between his actions and the results he gets (in this case getting out of his confines). This will mean that he’ll now double down on the behavior. If you want to stop it you need to understand how you’re making it stronger. He’s a young boy at 4 months so be certain that he’s not crying because he needs a bathroom break. Take him out routinely. Provided that you’re on a housebreaking schedule and bathroom breaks are not the problem, I suggest you let him cry and bark it out. It’ll be tough for you. Let him out only when he’s quiet. By rewarding the calmness you’ll be sending him a different message than the one he currently understands.
Hi- I know this thread is old, but I am considering trying this with my rescue schnauzer/Airedale (??) mix. He constantly paws, whines, barks, air snaps, cries at me for attention. He is extremely clingy. If I am sitting on the couch and ignore the brattiness and he sits or lays down do I reward him with pets every time he lays down? Would this reinforce the clinginess?
It might be best to go without the petting when he settles. There may also be things which you’re doing that could be contributing to his demanding behaviors.
I’ve had my greyhound for just shy of four years now. Even with consistency in ignoring her entitled behaviors, squealing, whining pacing, staring, barking when she’s not getting what she wants. Of course, what she wants can be tough to pin down because she has any mix of these when she wants anything at all. None of these things have ever been rewarded, even with so much as a stern look. What I do reward is the stopping of the behavior, IE I’ll give her the attention, food, water, walk, go outside, et cetera, after the behavior stops, which can take quite some time, yet that ‘switch’ people talk about has yet to come, she’s still nothing but entitled and pushy four years on. She’s very food driven, so much that treat training gets her so excited that I can’t very well do it because once she has had one, gimme gimme mode engages in full, and the tantrums start.
Consider giving a negative consequence to the demanding behavior, such as going to a designated place and insisting she remain. A mat or bed. Not a crate. She should be made to remain based on your vocal or spatial pressure and not because she’s locked in. The behaviors persists because she’s randomizing her actions. Start holding her accountable and you should get different results.
I have a 2 year old Rottie that is very bossy. I have used the ignoring technique with her but what happens is when I turn my body to ignore her she jumps on me from behind… and getting ‘tackled’ by her is no fun!. When I continue to turn and ignore she will also attempt to bite or grab my shirt sleeve and bite it and/or pull it. Help!
Cherie, you may need more than simply ignoring. Much more. Think structure and strongly defined limits. It’s possible you could benefit from the help of an experienced trainer in your area. Good luck
I have been implementing this great tactics for my new pupper (9 weeks) yet there had been a problem at night.
I am up during late hours as I have allot of business overseas, this means I sometimes eat dinner at 3am on unlucky days. The pupper is in the crate from around 10pm but he smells the food and wakes up. I also have neighbors very close by. I would be completely willing to let my ears bleed during the day, but I don’t want to disrupt my neighbors sleep. Any suggestions?
He doesn’t want to be crated when you’re up and about. I suggest placing him in an area where he doesn’t see your movements and try covering the crate with a blanket.
Hope you can help me. I have a 12 month old Border Terrier had him from 8 weeks. He is really vocal especially when out on his lead. He pulls and despite trying different types of leads and harnesses he still pulls. About the best one we use is a Gencon all in one bead collar. Anyway when he sees other dogs he cries and squeals so high pitched he can sometimes make people stop and stare as if they think he has been hurt. He also does this squeal when someone comes to the door. I try to make him sit and be calm but it’s like he’s in another world. Any help would be very much appreciated,
Susan, You may want to teach him a more structured manner of walking on the leash but you can also benefit from the help of a local trainer who can provide you with hands-on instruction.
I have been using this method and I can handle my doxie mixes whining for hours but what is happening now is he is marking in the house when he’s not getting the attention he wants. I have read so many feeds saying dogs don’t mark on purpose but it’s true with my dog. If I’m trying to do anything and not giving him the attention he wants he will look at me and pee. Its not because of a health issue and it’s not for having to go. We took a long walk and he marked a lot of trees, we come inside and he wants to play but I have to make dinner so I’m fixing up dinner when I look over and he’s peeing and looking right at me. I’ve now have given in to just watching him constantly and not getting to the things I need to do. Its so bad that I went to open a package from the mail and he peed right next to me because I wasn’t paying attention to him. If you have any answers for me, I would greatly appreciate it!
I need to try this for sure haha.. thankfully my dog doesn’t bark to get my attention. She just looks at me with her big eyes or reach me out with her paws. She wants to be close to me all the time so when I’m not sitting where she can lay down next to me she will ask me to pick her up to be on my lap. The problem is that she’s not that small and definitely reduce my ability to work (typing this with one hand btw hahah) I know I should ignore her but it’s hard now working from home full time.
I need an article about how to not feel guilty ignoring my lab.
I’m sure that I’m projecting but if I was a Labrador on a crate during workday and I wouldn’t have tv ( because dogs don’t watch) or internet , then I would want constant stimulation. How many hours can I sleep per day I would think .:
I feel so guilty having my dog unoccupied for extended periods.
I walk her three times a day , I play fetch with her a. Few times per day but I live alone she doesn’t have an entire family to keep her busy, i start assuming she is sad or depressed ( a projection) how do I deal with this ?
You may be humanizing her or projecting your own feelings on to her. As long as you’re meeting her physical and mental needs, some activity and stimulation, then you have no reason to feel bad or to believe she’s depressed. Good luck.
Hi!! We have been using this method for months now and our golden retriever is just not diggin it. He is 10 months and still struggling. He mouths us for attention, jumps and barks in our faces and just goes on and on. If you stand up to walk away, he bites and bites (not aggressively) and rips our clothes. If you walk towards him and he senses we are leaving or going to take him outside it turns into a tag game around the house. We paid a pretty penny for a good trainer because we needed help and he was taking classes all day for 8 weeks. He takes treats better than he did and he listens a bit better but that’s it:/ we all agreed he has some bad anxiety issues. He will come to you if you sit on your butt and call for him and then he will come snuggle up. But otherwise he gets so anxious. We are just at a loss right now:( it just makes me so sad because I hate that he feels so anxious. He has whale eyes and everything. None of our family pups growing up were like this so it’s just new to us. Also the trainer said the same thing. Cross our arms and turn away or leave the room. But there’s only so many bites my body can take you know? We just love him so so much and want it to be better. Also I might mention that walks and things like that help a little bit but he does the jumping and biting thing on walks too! We just got a harness that the trainer suggested for his mouth too. Sorry this is so long LOL! Thank you in advance for any new advice!!
Hi Olivia, let’s put your dog’s anxiety issues aside. While it’s possible that the anxiety may be contributing to the problem in some sense, it’s also a common issue for dogs to develop regardless of anxiety. So let’s pretend your dog has this issue of nipping and overexcitement absence of anything else. That means that he’s being rewarded for this behavior in some manner. It also sounds as if there are no clear boundaries on his behaviors. You may want to seek additional help. Someone who is going to teach you how to set limitations and enforce them.
I rescued a 6 yr old Australian shepherd. Its clingy and pouty. I try stop it but my husband permits all its behavior. I dont feed dogs from table to prevent begging and watching us and guests eat. Husband feeds from table and allows him to watch him eat constantly. Im a prisoner in my home to my husband and my dog. We cant be intimate without dog there, we cant hug or kiss dog is there. There is no time for us to have fun. I don’t have any say on anything. Im now looking for ways to be out of my house or just hide in room My father in law comes to the house and cause we watching tv and trying to enjoy a little of peace he’s complaining we dont give the dog attention and we treat ut bad. Im so stressed
This isn’t a dog issue. This is a husband issue.