View Full Version : needing constant attention

5th May 2006, 04:31 AM
Sadie is normally a very content and happy dog all the time. The last two days she has been driving me crazy with her constant barking and wanting my attention. I am home with her all day every day so she gets plenty of attention. But that doesnt seem to be enough for her the last two days. If she wants my attention she will sit at my feet and bark constantly. If I try to ignore her then she goes to the back door and rings her bell ( thats how she tells us that she needs to go out ) so of course I get up, thinking that she needs to go the the bathroom, let her out and she just sits there by the door. I let her back in and she goes right back to the barking or ringing the bell. Has anyone else experienced this behavior???

5th May 2006, 08:12 AM
We noticed with Twinkle that we literally could not scratch without her whining. If I went for a shower she cried and scratched at the kitchen door constantly. However, for the past couple of weeks we have been watching a program called the dog listener. Her name is Jan Fennell and she has several books:
She says that you should gently push the dog away when they act like that and do not make eye contact. If need be put her in the hall and keep putting her back out there until the behaviour stops. She insists this is not cruel - you are merely showing the dog who's pack leader. Similarly when you come home, ignore the dog for a few minutes and only give attention when you are ready - do not make eye contact.
I noticed that Karlin has the right idea in these situations. She came to our house with a foster a few weeks ago and our two pups ran rings around her for several minutes. Karlin took no notice of them until she was ready and by then the pups had calmed down. I now plan to ask every visitor to ignore the dogs when they come in - this way I hope to have calm dogs at all times. I've even noticed that Twinkle is calm when I'm preparing her food now, she used to jump and cry and whine. Now she just sits.
Try watching the program if you have Animal Planet - it's on at 8:30 most nights. It's really very informative. Remember, you have to be the boss! You'll end up with a more secure dog who realises it's job is to relax and be looked after by you - not the other way round.

5th May 2006, 09:47 AM
Busta is a barker - we end up putting him in the hallway until he stops..... it just stops that barking. I still have to find a way of stopping him barking at the other two because they will not chase him or they have something he wants. :roll:

5th May 2006, 11:07 AM
Melanie how old is your dog? Is she still a pup under say 12 month to 18 months?)? If so I have a feeling she has reached the equivalent of adolescence when they can suddenly put two and two together -- eg ring the bell, make the humans come pay attention to me (because of course the bell isn't JUST about going out, she knows it also brings attention from you!) The barking may be another two and two -- gee, if I make a lot of noise I get attention -- **even if it might be scolding, it is still attention**. Anyone with a child will know the latter makes sense to kids too, who don't really care if their behaviour brings a scolding if it btings interaction with you.

Keep in mind that if this is a very sudden change, there is ALSO a chance that she is not well -- and is using all these behaviours to try and tell you that.

But overall I'd say more likely it is simply behavioural.

As Joanna notes the right way to deal with this is to ignore the behaviour -- REALLY ignore it. Do not meet her eye, do not say anything, go about your business, turn and walk away from her. If she continues, quietly go to her, and pick her up or walk her to a 'time out' room. Do not look or speak to her when you do this. A hall or bathroom works well for this, or an unusued room. DON'T use her crate if you are crate training as you don't want her to associate anything negative with her crate). A time out functions just as it does with a naughty child -- it isn't punishment per se, it is just the removal of all the environmental stimulation -- including YOU -- that triggers this behaviour. Your dog doesn;t want to be without your presence either so this is a good genlte way of saying, if you make all that noise, then the pleasant, normal environment ends. Wait until ahse stops barking completely in her chill out room, then wait another few minutes, then let her out. You can praise her then quietly and give a little treat. The minute the behaviour starts again, once again you quietly spring into action.

I've been at a Dublin seminar with Jan Fennell and have a couple of her books, which I really like in general approach, though I know some would find her dominance theories a bit out of date. However I don;t think this affects the approach at all. Her general advocacy of ignoring -- and that means TOTALLY ignoring -- bad behaviour like jumping up, barking, frantic displays when you arrive home -- does work if you are consistent.

What we often don't realise is that any response to such behaviour reinforces it for the dog. Believe me I know how hard it can be NOT to unintentionally reinforce bad behaviour!! I tend to talk to the dogs generally anyway and am prone to responding to Jaspar -- stop that etc -- when he whines. Of course this is just the wrong approach. Tara and Lisa (Dog Training Ireland) have told me I absolutely must totally ignore Jaspar when he does this exasperating behaviour as they see me in social situations and have noted I am still unintentionally paying attention to him in subtle ways when he starts doing this, especially whining in public, which can be so embarrassing. I am now really working on a mix of time outs and ignoring to try to curb this but it can be a real challenge to change your OWN behaviour in order to change the dog's. That's why trainers say they don;t really train dogs, they train people!! Often it is our behaviour that needs changing, not the dog's. :lol: Unfortunately in Jaspar I have a mix of a dog who has always been very vocal (not a barker but like to 'talk' when playing for example), is very smart and manipulative, and likes lots of mental stimulation. Argh!!

Which brings me to a final point. Have you done obedience with your dog? Obedience classes in a good positive environment works wonders in helping you bond into a better relationship with your dog, and also gives you tools -- asking for responses to various queues -- that can refocus annoying behaviour too, especially in environments like the vets. Teaching them to focus on you gets them to stop focusing on whatever stimulates them into barking and whining. I cannot stress enough the positive benefits of obedience that stretch far, far beyond just teaching your dog to sit and stay. The real benefits are to your dog's socialisation skills with crowds, ability to respond to queues (eg commands) in distracting situations like having other people and dogs around -- which is of course exactly what REAL LIFE is like, not you alone in the living room training your dog in isolation; mix with other dogs, different types of people, and the dog's correct role within your own home. And the pleasure you get from working with your dog. Too often, most of what we say to our dogs is 'NO'! It is great to give them an hour a week in which they hear lots of 'yes!" and get treats for doing the RIGHT thing. :)

5th May 2006, 11:24 AM
Great post Karlin. You perfectly articulated what I was trying to say - it's easy to see why you are a writer and I'm not :D

Jo C
5th May 2006, 12:56 PM
Just a thought - my dogs always want that extra bit of attention when they are coming into season. Perhaps if your dog hasn't been spayed that may also be a reason? I suppose it is the equivalent of humans wanting that extra little bit of tlc at that time of the month!!

5th May 2006, 03:10 PM
Melanie how old is your dog? Sadie is 15 months. I have tried to ignore her but her bark is so shrill its hard to ignore, especially when I have kids asleep! I have also noticed that she does it when I am on the phone and then its really hard to ignore. Last night the whole family was home watching a movie and I got a phone call so I went in my bedroom and she followed me and started in with the barking. Now wouldnt you think with a house full of people she would of been just fine? No she had to follow me. I had to have one of my kids go outside with her just so I could talk on the phone.

If I pick her up and put her in another room she has succeded in getting my attention and will stop barking. Will she understand why I am putting her in another room? I am willing to try anything, she is driving me crazy and she only does this with me.

Just a thought - my dogs always want that extra bit of attention when they are coming into season. No she is not spayed and is due for her season this month, so that could be it too. We plan on having her spayed this summer when things settle down a bit and I dont have so many babysitting kids.

I will keep trying to ignore her and have the kids do the same.
Thanks for all the help!

5th May 2006, 08:08 PM
I'd recommend doing all that I said above. Sounds like she's right in the 'misbehavin' age range when as young adults, they like to try our patience. :)

1) you will have to totally ignore this and put her somewhere that she gets a time out when possible so that she starts to associate barking with being CUT OFF from you and losing your attention rather than as a good way to GET your attention. Every time your respond -- telling her no, pushing her away, petting her to keep her quiet while you are on the phone etc,, you are REWARDING the behaviour you don't want. It's like giving a child a cookie every time she starts to whine when you are on the phone. Very quickly the child learns to whine when you are on the phone as she gets what she likes!

2) avoid trigger situations as much as possible. For example don;t let her follow you when you go answer the phone, or take the phone into a room and shut the door! She is barking because she has learned like many of our dogs -- including mine!! :lol: -- that when you are on the phone you will DEFINITELY respond to her barking. These little guys are smart and she has learned this is one of the BEST POSSIBLE times to bark at you. So first, don;t let her be in the situation where she is allowed to do this and second, if she starts barking and you are on the phone, just excuse yourself, picker her up, put her in a time out room, close the door, and have your conversation.

3) get her into obedience so she starts to learn to respond to you in a desired way, where you are in control. Right now, she is training you to respond to HER in a controlled way! :)

Sometimes you need to look at it from the dog's point of view to realise they are running the show, busy training you to do as they want. It needs to be the other way around.

Also once you start a training class, ask the instructor how to teach a 'quiet' command. There are many ways to do this. This is also a good optional approach.

As with any learning experience training is all about reinforcement and practice. Just going to the lesson and doing the activity once won;t make much of an impression or long-lasting effect on you or your dog. You need to daily, run through the various commands, setting aside some time to focus on this maybe twice daily for 10 minutes each time. I'm betting that if you start doing this type of activity with her, you will begin to see some overall changes that help you manage this situation overall. I know I really started seeing a calmer and more cntrolled household when I started doing classes and reminding the dogs daily thru some fun but focused obedience practice, who runs the house. :lol:

5th May 2006, 10:29 PM
Thanks Karlin,
I will definatly try your suggestions and will look into obedience classes. We havent had any formal training other than puppy kindergarten.