Your puppy or dog wants to play 24/7 and you’re tired, you’ve got work to do, plus that ball is just … slimily disgusting. Unfortunately, dogs don’t come with off switches, and some dog breeds tend to be very high energy. They just need to be busy, so when you ignore them, it drives. them. crazy.
Here’s what to do if your dog constantly wants attention or wants to play all the time.
Why Dogs Need Constant Attention
Just like people, dogs need a certain amount of mental stimulation in order to be happy and affectionate. With excess energy to burn off, dogs will seek outlets for their energy however they can. Barking at strangers, chewing on rugs and other bad behaviors may be because your dog is bored. This behavior can’t be solved entirely with punishments, as it’s a sign that your dog is just looking for something to do. As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to help your dog find productive (and fun) ways to burn off energy.
Early on, it’s good to get to know your dog. Research the breed (or mix) and how much exercise it normally needs. Certain breeds may have a natural tendency to forage or to follow you around. All dogs will have more energy when they’re puppies. It’s good to know at what age the breed is known to calm down. An external source might cause your dog’s water anxiety, so try to identify what levels of energy are normal for the breed.
You will also need to recognize the signs that your dog is bored or anxious. Is your dog jumping up on you? Pawing at your legs? Pacing back and forth? Does your dog seem to be obsessed with a ball or toy?
Whatever this attention seeking behavior is, as an owner, you need to be mindful of how you respond. You may inadvertently reinforce unwanted behaviors.
That said, if your dog is communicating that it’s bored, there’s a chance that you need to work more play sessions and/or exercise into your schedule.
4 Things to Do If Your Dog Is Needy for Attention
- It may be that your dog is a boxer, Great Dane, or other working breed that has hardwired high energy levels. Besides daily walks, having an open space to explore, run around and play is a great way for some mindless, energy burning fun. If your dog burns excess energy by chewing, the Suction Cup Dog Pull and Chew Toy sticks to a hard surface and lets your dog chew and tug on something to their heart’s content.
- Mental stimulation
- If your dog is a smart breed that seeks something more than just running around, you’ll need to look into some creative games to play. You can hide treats, toys, and other objects around the house that they recognize the word for and say “find your ball” for an activity that challenges their sense of smell. You can also look into autonomous play activities like a Busy Ball, which bounces and rolls around on its own like a small animal. Being more dynamic than playing fetch, the Busy Ball simulates hunting a small, erratic animal.
- You may have inadvertently trained your dog to behave poorly in order to get what they want. For example, if they get table scraps or other food when they beg/whine, they will continue to do this whenever food is around them. Bad behavior is very easily learned, so it’s important to pay attention to how you respond to your dog’s actions. Feed, exercise, and play with your dog at regular times every day to establish a normal routine.
- Separation training
- It’s possible that your dog is developing separation anxiety if it’s seeking an abnormal amount of attention. If your dog struggles with being alone, or is anxious about going outside, you need to gradually teach them that these activities are safe. Give your dog treats and an interesting activity when going outside, and slowly increase the duration of time that you are apart from your dog over many weeks. Keep in mind that treating separation anxiety in dogs is very complex, so do your own research and consult an animal behavioral specialist before any extensive training.
Dog Obsessed With Ball or Toy
Similar to a dog that wants to play all the time is the dog that seems to be obsessed with a particular toy or ball. What do you do when your dog is obsessed with a toy?
In addition to the four things you can do to help a dog that wants to play all the time, there are some simple tactics for toy-obsessed pups.
Even the smartest dogs have simple minds. Out of sight, out of mind. Hide the toy out of sight and don’t let your dog know where you keep it. You can also try to introduce a variety of toys (remember our recommendations for the wobble ball and the suction cup pull toy, both of which are available in the BarxBuddy store).
A word of caution if your dog is obsessed with a toy: Don’t allow visitors or children to try to take the toy or ball from your dog’s mouth. Your dog could misunderstand this as a moment to protect its territory.