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Blue Bridge Dog Training Question and Answer Series
My 3-year-old lab constantly paws at me. He's always been ultra-needy, but it seems to be getting worse. He's not bad about begging at the table-it just seems like he always wants something from me. Why is he doing this, and how do I get him to stop?
Our dogs certainly need attention, but as it is in your case, there can be a point at which the desire for attention becomes a demand for attention. What you really want (and need) is a dog that understands the boundaries you set and your expectations for acceptable behavior.
Why is he demanding your attention? It may be a result of allowing him, and perhaps even encouraging him to enter into your space at any time. Imagine the person who comes home from work and is greeted at the door by an overly excited dog. If the reaction of the owner is to pet or rub up the dog while voicing (usually in high tones) how happy he or she is to see him, the owner is conditioning the dog to behave that way whenever the owner comes home. What happens when the owner has had a bad day and just wants to make a beeline for the Moon Pies? The dog will be overly excited and expect what has happened in the past?... lots of touching and a happy voice. The result is an annoying dog and a frustrated owner.
How do you get him to stop this behavior? Assuming no medical conditions or injuries, first make sure that he has a solid grasp of basic obedience commands (loose leash walk, sit, down, stay). Then begin to focus on the down-stay command by gradually increasing the duration and the distance. A great time to practice this is at dinnertime. We allow our dogs to be in the room with us during a meal, but in a down-stay, and not around or under the table. These steps should begin to help you regain the personal territory you have lost over time.
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(This content was taken from the Chattanooga Times Free Press, "Ask A Trainer" column, published the last Saturday of each month in the 4Paws section.)
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