Activities For A Demanding Dog

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Introduction

Demanding behavior in a dog can be extremely discouraging, especially if you have tried to break the habit for some time. Perhaps you've experienced these scenarios; you sit down to watch a movie or to eat a delicious meal, but instead of being able to enjoy some well-deserved relaxation time, your dog has something else in mind. It may start out as just whining, which can be ignored, but if it escalates to pawing, barking, or nudging constantly, this can get irritating very quickly. While it may seem impossible to curb such behaviors in a demanding dog, the good news is that there are a few different methods which can be applied to start creating better habits for both dog and owner.

Mental and Physical Stimulation

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Any Day
Free
Normal
2 - 3 hrs
Items needed
Toys
Dog Park
Mental Puzzles
Activity description
First and foremost, when it comes to a demanding dog, it is a good idea to evaluate how much exercise and mental stimulation they are receiving. High energy dogs (or those who get bored easily) will have a tendency to become demanding if they just sit around the house or inside a crate all day. Before trying anything else, a simple solution may be to provide a bit more stimulation for your pup. This could include going to a dog park, doggy day care, a run, or perhaps actual training for competitions like obedience or agility. Anything to help burn off that stored up energy.
Step
1
Experiment
It may take a bit of trial and error to discover just how much time (or what specific activities) will aid the most in burning off your dog's extra energy. Whether it's needing a 5 mile run or just a good tussle with some other dogs at the dog park, providing opportunities for your dog to fulfill their needs outside of what you can provide can make everyone involved much happier.
Step
2
Make it a priority
Once you've figured out what your dog loves, it is extremely important to make that a daily priority. It may be a bit inconvenient, and life may become busy making it that sometimes the trip to the park may not happen, but it will be far better to help your dog get rid of that demanding nature than having to deal with it every single day. Left unchecked, a demanding dog's issues can progress to an unbearable level. Include a puzzle toy in their day to put the active brain to use. On another day, give them a new toy to investigate.
Step
3
Evaluate
If this first option does not work, and simply increasing your demanding dog's activity level does not help, then you may need to re-evaluate and move on to a couple of other options such as obedience, agility or doggy daycare. Scheduling your dog's day, or seeing a behavior specialist, may provide the last little push needed in order to ensure that the unwanted behavior is taken care of.
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Train with Positivity

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Any Day
Free
Normal
1 hr
Items needed
Treats
Toys
Activity description
The first instinct that we may have when it comes to dealing with a demanding dog is to say the words "no" or "be quiet"; and most likely, after your dog's persisting nature, the tone will not be very kind. While this is not alright, it can be understandable due to how frustrating demanding tendencies can be. However, using negative training methods will do nothing to actually curb the behavior and in fact, it will be damaging the relationship that you have with your dog more than anything else. The most effective way to preserve the relationship and still achieve your goals is to use positive training methods and reinforcement to let your dog know when they are doing a desired behavior. This method will take a lot of patience, practice, and there may be some slip-ups along the way. But it will absolutely be worth it in the end.
Step
1
Be patient
Before you can take care of your dog in a positive way, it is important to get yourself into the correct mindset. When demanding actions take place, breathe in deeply and relax. Your dog will be much more willing to listen when they can sense that the Alpha is in control. If you are still frustrated or in a negative head space, your dog will feed off of that and it will be more difficult to create a calm environment.
Step
2
Introduce the new framework
Once you are ready, you can introduce the new "framework" or action that your dog needs to take in order to achieve what they want (walk, food, play time). The goal is to teach your demanding dog that there is a better way to get these things that is far more effective. The simplest move can be to have your "sit" before giving them anything. If they want to go outside, give the "sit" cue before putting on the leash; if it's time to eat, have your dog "sit" before putting food in their bowl.
Step
3
Wait for silence
It is extremely important to wait for your dog to calm down and be silent before you reward. If your pup is whining or barking, wait until they are sitting quietly before giving what they want. Implying this silence, along with the new framework (sitting, eye contact) will help your dog realize that if they are polite and use manners they will get exactly what they need much faster than if they persistently bug you.
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Create a Schedule

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Any Day
Free
Easy
30 min
Items needed
Pen
Paper
Planner (optional)
Activity description
Now that you have figured out what activities your dog needs to release energy and have established a positive framework for your pup to follow, it is time to start anticipating what your dog needs before they even need to ask for it. Creating a schedule for your pup removes any situation where they might need to pester you for attention. For example, instead of waiting to feed your dog in the morning until they begin to beg, set an exact feeding time and have them sitting in front of their bowl at that time; therefore, the need to demand food has been removed. The same principle goes for walk time, play time, and bathroom breaks. Remember to have your dog work for these activities before providing them to keep the good habits in practice. Although the scheduling may be annoying at first, once you've got it down, it will make things easier overall.
Step
1
Block out the day
To begin, get a pen and some paper so that you can write out your typical daily activities. If you can see exactly what you need to do that week, it will be easier to plug in your dog's needs. Having a planner may make this step even easier as time slots are typically available in such a tool.
Step
2
Be flexible but consistent
As mentioned earlier, life happens, so sometimes you may not be able to stick to the schedule exactly. What is important is that for the most part, you keep things consistent for your dog so that they know they can rely on you to give them what they need. If you are a few minutes late for taking your dog outside, it won't hurt them, and by asking for a sit beforehand you will still be reinforcing the desired behavior and curbing any demanding habits.
Step
3
Let others know about the plan
If you have a dog sitter or other members in your household that care for your demanding dog, it is important to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to scheduling. Bad habits can be encouraged when others don't follow through, so to avoid this, just make sure you have the schedule available if your demanding dog still needs some extra work!
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Visit a Behavioral Specialist

If all else fails, you may need to take your pup to a behavioral specialist to get some tips and advice on how to curb the issue.

Ignore the Behavior

When it comes to demanding dogs, any type of attention will just reinforce a certain behavior. So, if you are not using the suggested method above (of providing a positive framework) and are just giving in or telling them "no", you will simply be encouraging the behavior. To avoid this, especially in the early stages, completely ignore the behavior until your dog is silent (even if it is just for a few seconds) then praise. This will help encourage waiting patiently for the needs to be met instead of demanding.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, demanding habits cannot be completely broken overnight. It will take a lot of time and effort to slowly encourage your dog, with positive training methods and perhaps some professional help, that there are better ways to ask for what they want. If you know that your puppy may have the potential to become demanding as they get older (such as with high energy breeds) you can begin some of these methods early on to ensure that good habits are formed as soon as possible! This way, a healthy and happy forever relationship can easily exist between dog and owner.