But let's get into what that means. Your dog's brain works a little differently than yours does. So, while you can think through the process of "if I fake this, I'll definitely get this person's attention," your dog just sort of falls into it.
For example, if your pup actually hurts him or herself and you give them tons of love and affection (as you should), they might pick up on the fact that they get your undivided attention when they're injured. Which means, they might connect the dots and fake being injured every so often. Sneaky, huh?
Bet you didn't know your dog was so crafty. Read on to get a better idea of why your dog might fake an injury, how you can tell they're faking, and how you can train your pup to quit faking that he or she is hurt.
Signs Your Dog is Faking an Injury
It's better to understand when your dog is faking an injury so you can know when to start training them out of this behavior. First, watch for consistency. Your pup might have an inkling of what they're doing, but they won't be able to grasp that they have to keep the fake injury consistent.
Notice your dog limping? Don't freak out right away. See how long the limp lasts, how consistent it is, and if your dog gives up on it all together. Your dog might also howl, too. See if your dog continues to howl, bark, or whimper even when you don't give them any attention. If they stop, they might realize that their fake pleas for help might not be doing the job they thought it might. Additionally, keep an eye out for things like coughing, scratching, and out-of-character behavior.
- Low tail carriage
- Ears back
- Mimicking another dog's behavior (dogs with actual injuries)
- Fake limping
- Excessive coughing
- Sad eyes
Historic Causes of Dogs Faking Injuries
This often happens when you have two or more dogs and one of your pups is actually injured. Dogs certainly maintain the ability to be jealous, so if they see you reacting to your other dog's actions, as well as giving an unequal amount of attention to your other pooch, it only makes sense they might try to mimic your other pup's actions.
Dogs will fake injuries or other reasons, too. For example, some dogs fake injuries when they're scared, anxious, nervous, or want to avoid stressful situations.
Science Surrounding Dogs Faking Illness
It's important to always remember that your dog is most likely not faking pain or illness. In most situations, dogs will show signs of illness, injury, or pain because they're actually feeling these things. That being said, you should monitor your pup to ensure that they're not faking in order to avoid any kind of positive reinforcement of bad behavior.
Training Your Dog to Stop Faking Injuries
If you find that your pup is definitely faking sick for your attention, there are steps you can take to undo this behavior, it just requires a bit of patience and some serious willpower on your part. If you find that your dog is limping, coughing, scratching, or faking other kinds of symptoms, first ask yourself why.
Does your dog get more attention when they do these things? Do you give your other dogs who might be actually suffering from these ailments extra attention? Your dog is smarter than you think, and they're perfectly able and ready to get the attention they seek.
The best way to begin training your dog to quit faking illnesses is to ignore them. We know, that's tough, but give it a try. Ignore your dog's fake symptoms all while carefully observing if they're genuine or not. Retrain them to understand that they will not receive any additional affection for doing these sorts of things. Don't coddle your dog when they fake symptoms, don't give them treats, and don't do anything that would make your dog associate love and affection with faked behavior.
How to React if Your Dog is Faking an Injury:
Give your dog a fair amount of observation time to ensure they're faking.
If your dog isn't faking, react appropriately.
In order to not train your dog that faking gets them attention, ignore your dog's antics.
Keep in mind you might be dealing with a series of faked and genuine symptoms, so don't ignore your pup until a vet has given you the clear.