Demanding Attention – This exercise to be carried out in silence until the dog has a total understanding of what you expect. Thereafter, the use of the NRM can be used, if need be.
In a dog pack, demanding attention from the pack leaders, and indeed, any dog higher in the pack, would simply not be tolerated. The exception here is if it was a puppy engaging in the behaviour – but even then it would only be tolerated up to a point.
We are not always aware how often our dogs do demand attention from us; they often do it without us realizing it. It may be a case of the pup/dog jumping onto the chair and sitting on our lap or next to us, bringing a toy to be played with, insisting on a tummy rub, nudging us, mouthing us, pawing us, barking or whining for attention etc. With puppies it is because they are just so cute and adorable (false advertising!) and before we know what we are doing we are picking up the pup, cuddling it etc – we are, inadvertently, starting a bad habit.
When your pup/dog exhibits the demanding behaviour, ignore the dog completely. If you are sitting on the chair and the dog comes up and tries to interact with you, turn your head and body away, don’t look at the dog and don’t talk to the dog. If the dog becomes persistent and tries to jump up, without looking or talking to it, put it gently back on the floor-again with no talking or interacting. If it continues, stand up and move to another chair where it can’t jump onto.
If the behaviour continues, do what is called a Reverse Time-Out. This simply means that you walk out the door (without talking too or interacting with the pup/dog (stiff body, arms folded and not looking at the dog). Close the door, wait 10 seconds and then walk back in and go straight back to the situation/location where the behaviour from the dog caused you to leave. If the dog starts demanding attention again, do the above of not talking, interacting first, and if the behaviour continues, do the reverse time-out again. Depending on the dog and the intensity of the demanding behaviour, it can take a few times of repeating this for the dog to realize you mean business and give up, or if the behaviour is very bad, you may have to repeat umpteen times – it depends on the dog! The worst case I ever had was a Jack Russell (of course) where it took over 12 repeats before the dog ‘got the message’. Thankfully, not all breeds are as stubborn as these wonderful, feisty little dogs!
After you dog has given up and either sat/laid down or gone off to do something else, give it about 3 minutes to absorb the changes that have occurred, then call the dog to you and give all the attention you want too. Don’t get into the habit of calling the dog always after 3 minutes – dogs quickly figure out the time period that has elapsed if you always call it after a fixed time period, and will quickly anticipate the 3 minutes and start to come to you just before! Vary the time, sometimes a minute or two, other times 10 minutes and when your dog is used to this, you can wait as long as you want too. The importance is to always be consistent and every single member of the family to do the same.