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How Do I Make My Dog Less Needy?

Pet Peeves: My Dog Is Extremely Needy!

Readers, I need your help! Here's a question submitted by PetSugar reader vivalacara in the Pet Peeves group:

I love my new dog, Asher. My best friend almost ran him over on a busy highway and got out and called to him. He ran right up to her, and as he got close she saw how dirty he was. He had over 30 ticks, the size of quarters, he was so dirty! She cleaned him and got rid all of the ticks. We decided that Asher had to have had a home when my friend found him, though, because he was well fed, and was wearing a collar (which was too big for him and old). She gave him to me and I fell in love immediately.

He has all of his shots now and is healthy, but one problem . . . he is SO abrasive! He wants to be on my chest at alll time. I have to literally lay with my hand on him, pushing him away as he puts all of his weight on it. I give him lots of love but he always wants more. He is just so attention- and love-hungry because he has been ignored all of his life. Any suggestions on how to calm him down a little? He isn't neutered yet, maybe it will get better when I get him fixed. Let me know what you think!

Remember we're here for you, too! Share your tips in comments, then submit your own burning pet questions in the forum or vent about problems in the Pet Peeves group, too.

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sumlady sumlady 6 years
I just adopted a 3 year old rescue in October and she has been very needy. Not bad seperation anxiety, but just wanting to be on top of me or my husband when ever we sit down. She was worse when we first got her and now she is getting better. I think it is her confidence. I think in her past she has not been able to count on a family who comes home every day and who spends time with her and loves her unconditionally. She now has a routine and her good behavior is reinforced. I think a dependable routine helps them feel more secure. I don't know how long you have had your dog, but I am sure he will get better. He is a cutie by the way!
sfcasun sfcasun 6 years
You haven't said exactly how long you've had him, but signing him up for obedience school would be enormously helpful. Get some recommendations from friends, but I can say from personal experience to look for one that uses positive reinforcement and I personally found clicker training to be a godsend. Dogs really respond to clicker training because it's tangible. They hear that "click" sound and they know they've done something good which means that they're going to be rewarded for it. If your dog is food-motivated -- and I've yet to meet a dog who isn't -- you will wonder how come you haven't discovered clicker training sooner. In the meantime, practice leaving the house (or even the room) for a short amount of time (start off with half a minute, gradually build it up), and then returning. If he starts getting spastic and whiney when he sees you, very calmly leave the room, and don't return until he's quiet. As SOON as he is quiet, calmly walk back into the room, and say, "GOOD BOY!" and bend down and either give him a treat or affection. You have to be consistent with this. He's whining and barking for your attention, even if you pop your head around the corner and shout -- "QUIET!" -- that's still attention, negative attention, but attention nonetheless. Again, start off with a half a minute, and build it up GRADUALLY. Start by leaving the room, then progress it to actually leaving the house, but coming right back in. You don't want to jump right into the deep end and leave him for hours first thing, that'll make him super-anxious. If you work or have to be away for long periods of time, it's a good idea to get him into a daycare situation or even hire a dog walker to take him out for a couple of hours. He'll get plenty of exercise which will tire him out. A tired dog is a good dog! Dogs are social creatures, it's important to remember that. It's also very important be sure that you make your comings and goings very matter-of-fact and low-key. Don't make a big deal when you leave (picking him up, saying "bye-bye" or "I'm going to miss you much" or anything like that), and the same is true when you come back. That will only make him anxious and make him learn to anticipate your leaving and returning. I would also recommend crate-training him, as well. A dog who is properly crate-trained learns to love their crate as a sanctuary, just like a teenager likes to retreat to their bedroom for privacy. If you leave him in his crate, be sure to give him a chew toy or an interactive toy such as a Kong or another toy that you can stuff with treats that the dog has to work at to get the treats (my dogs never cared for the Kong, but LOVED the Busy Buddy Twist-N-Treat, and the Everlasting Bento Ball, stuff treats on the other side). NEVER leave your dog in his crate more than 4 hours. If you must leave him unattended and he's not fully house-trained, confine him to a space with pet gates where it would be easy to clean up any messes, for example, the kitchen. Be sure that you always make sure he has eliminated before you leave him, and take him out again as when you return. Good luck!
lovelie lovelie 6 years
This can be tough, especially for a dog that was rescued/abandoned. I adopted a 2 year old boston terrier back in September and he had some serious separation anxiety issues at first, to the point where I could leave him alone at home without my neighbors complaining. First things first, don't give into him wanting to be by you all the time. This only reinforces his dependence on you. I know it's tough because they are so cute and helpless, but start by going into a different room and making him stay in the other room. When he can do that without crying/seeking attention...award him! Next, distractions. For the interim, I started to take my dog to daycare during the day (as I work long hours), but on the weekends, I started working with him in increments. I would make him sit and stay whenever he started to follow me around the house. Then, I'd walk out the door and sit outside and listen. If he cried, I'd walk in and ignore him, then walk back out and repeat the process until he was desensitized. Finally, after he stopped making any noise when I left, I introduced the kong which made an ENORMOUS difference. He was so infatuated by his new toy that he didn't even realize that I had left. This paired with ambient noise in the background (tv left on) and he no longer freaked out when I wasn't near. Last thing that might help is DAP. It is a plug-in that releases a pheromone that is scentless to humans but apparently it is the same chemical released by nursing dogs. It is supposed to be comforting to them, and it definitely has had a relaxing affect on my dog. I wish you the best of luck!
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