It is quite usual for your puppy to bark when you greet him or whine when you leave him alone. Dogs also tend to get excited when you feed them or play with them.
But, continuous nudging, jumping, and barking may be a sign of attention-seeking behavior. While this may all seem reasonable, but excessive attention-seeking can be a root cause of deeper problems.
Attention seeking behavior is common in puppies that rely totally on the care of their mothers, but if that behavior remains persistent, it can be an issue later. This behavior can continue in adult dogs which can get annoying and sometimes even turn aggressive.
There are lots of reasons why puppies exhibit attention-seeking behavior. But, before you learn how to handle this issue, it is essential to know the reasons behind it.
Why Is Your Puppy Barking for Attention?
He Wants Something
Puppies sometimes tend to bark when they simply want to be cuddled or want a treat. These kinds of episodes are rare, with short pauses in between.
He is Alarmed
Many dog owners note that their dog starts barking when the doorbell rings. This typical behavior in puppies but it can get out of hands if remained uncontrolled. Sometimes, dogs even bark when they spot an object that startles them or any unusual noise that catches their attention.
He is Territorial
Dogs are extremely territorial and protective of their owners and the place where they live. When a stranger or any dog comes into the area that he considers as his territory, your puppy will start excessive barking as he feels he is being threatened. As the threat comes closer, the puppy gets triggered, and the barking gets louder. Your puppy might even look aggressive and angry during this type of barking.
He Wants to Play
Puppies get excited and overwhelmed when they see you bring toys for them. They would sometimes bark and circle around your legs and nudge you, signaling you to throw the ball for them to fetch. This kind of barking is often accompanied by high jumping and tail wagging.
He is Lonely
Dogs are friendly animals. They like people and other dogs around them. If they are left alone for a long time, they can get sad and bored. For this reason, they bark excessively to indicate they are unhappy and need company.
He has Separation Anxiety
Puppies that stay away from their owners for an extended period of time can develop separation anxiety. Along with excessive barking, they exhibit other symptoms like depression, destructiveness, and inappropriate pooping habits. They also tend to become compulsive barkers just to listen to the sound of their voice. This behavior includes repetitive movements like running in circles.
Ways to Control a Puppy Barking for Attention
Here are a few techniques to help your puppy control his attention-seeking behavior. However, you must not expect these methods to work overnight. The longer your puppy has been exhibiting attention-seeking behavior, the longer time it will take for him to overcome it.
Eliminate the Motivation
Your puppy usually barks because he expects some kind of response or reward in return for it. You need to figure out his motivation for barking and then remove it. For instance, if he barks when he wants a snack, ignore his barking and don’t give him the snack.
If your puppy barks at people or animals passing by outside, close the curtains or put him away to another room where he cannot see them. Make sure to leave your dog completely unsupervised, especially outside.
Ignore the Barking
Ignore your puppy’s bark as long as he gets exhausted and eventually stops. Don’t give him the attention he needs. Although, this can be a little annoying, giving him your attention would only reward him for his barking. Make sure not even to make eye contact with him when he’s barking. When he finally stops barking, reward him with a treat.
This technique requires a lot of patience because an unattended puppy can continue barking even for an hour. But, don’t give in to his antics. If you yell at him to stop, the next time he might even bark for longer. Here are some tips to make this technique successful
- When you put your puppy in his crate, and he starts barking, just him.
- Once he stops barking; turn around, pet him or gives him a treat.
- As he learns that he gets a treat to stop barking, increase the amount of time he must remain quiet for being rewarded.
- Keep it interesting for him by changing the time interval when you reward him. Keep it for 10 seconds then, 20 then 30 and so on.
Desensitize Your Puppy to the Stimulus
Get your puppy accustomed to whatever makes him bark. Begin his training with a stimulus at a distance. It should be far enough for him not to bark when he sees it. Move your puppy a little closer to the stimulus and feed him and keep repeating. When the stimulus is out of sight, stop giving him treats. In this way, you are making your puppy learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to treats. Here is a step-by-step guide to follow this technique:
- If your puppy barks at other dogs, ask a friend to stand with his dog at a distance and start feeding your puppy.
- Stop feeding him when the dog disappears from his sight.
- Repeat the same method multiple times.
- Make sure not to progress too fast as this technique may take days before your dog learns to pay attention to you and the treats without barking at the other dog.
Command Your Puppy to be Quiet
In this technique, you command your dog to speak and then wait for him to bark twice or thrice and then put his favorite treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking while sniffing, pet him and give him the treat to eat. Keep repeating the process until he learns to bark as you tell him to speak.
You can start practicing this technique when the doorbell rings and your dog starts barking wildly. After your puppy has been accustomed to the quiet command in a calm environment, start practicing in complicated situations. Keep practicing this until your puppy learns to follow your command immediately without a treat.
Distract Your Puppy
When your puppy starts barking ask him to do something that distracts him with his barking. You can inhibit your dog’s barking by asking him to do something incompatible with barking like lying down on his bed.
- Toss a treat on his bed and command him to go to his place.
- When he moves towards the mat to eat his treat, open the door. If he gets alarmed, close the door immediately.
- Keep repeating the process multiple times until he learns to stay on his mat even when the door is open.
- Move to the next step by ringing the doorbell while your dog is on his mat. Reward him if he stays at his place.
Keep Your Puppy Tired
If you keep your puppy busy with physical and mental exercises every day, the chances are that he will be less likely to bark. Not only he will feel tired, but he also wouldn’t bark because of boredom. Make sure to engage your puppy insufficient activities depending upon his breed, health, and other factors. Several long walks in a day and a game of chasing the ball or merely playing with his toys will prove to be helpful in this regard.
Some Useful Tips
- Limit your dog’s view by covering the windows and doors with curtains.
- When you leave your dog alone, put different kinds of food-dispensing toys to keep him busy for hours.
- You can try Citronella-spraying collars to control your dog’s barking. But, this method can’t be used for long-term as many dogs learn that they can run the collar out of the spray and then bark at their will.
- Block any unusual or scary sounds that can scare your puppy.
- Be consistent with your training. All the family members must follow the training methods each time your dog barks inappropriately; otherwise, your puppy will get confused.
These were some of the ways that can help you handle a puppy barking for attention. However, sometimes, certain medical conditions can also cause excessive barking in dogs. It is always a good idea to get your canine friend checked by a veterinarian to rule out any such issues.