Learning how to prevent your dog from seeking attention when you’re working is a true challenge, especially since many dog owners are working from home these days. While your dog may love that you’re now home all day, you may be getting a little frustrated since your productivity may be impacted at times because your dog wants your undivided attention.
Fortunately, there are some ways you can keep your dog preoccupied so you can finally get some work done. In this guide, I’ll go over some techniques and tricks you can try that will prevent this type of attention-seeking behavior, so you can enjoy the peace and quiet you need, to get your job done.
Does your dog already suffer from separation anxiety? This can make their attention-seeking behavior go into overdrive. They’ll be thrilled to have you home and probably won’t want to let you out of their sight. Using the best dog crate for separation anxiety can do the trick. But how?
Creating a Safe Space
Dogs are den animals. Because of this, many dogs crave a spot of their own in the home. A quiet space that they can go to if they’re feeling anxious, or a space they can use that makes them feel safe and secure. With proper training, you can show your dog that they can rest in total comfort and be left in peace, so they don’t need to use attention-seeking behavior for reassurance. A crate will help to reduce anxiety and will allow your dog to finally relax. Of course, you can’t expect your dog to learn how to use their crate and stay in it in the course of one day. This is something that can take a few weeks. Start by placing their crate in a quiet, dark place in the home. You can even place the crate in your home office, so you’ll be close by, giving your dog more encouragement to rest in their crate and relax. These crates should contain a thick mattress and a favorite blanket. Maybe a toy or two. You don’t have to lock the door to the crate. Over time, your dog will willingly go into their crate, identifying it as their safe space.
Exercise is Best
Do you have a pet that’s high energy? Do you know how to entertain your dog throughout the day? Many dogs will thrive with a little exercise in the morning and before bedtime. If your dog is bursting with energy and will not leave you alone as you’re working, then try to tire them out before you begin your work for the day. Some great options include:
Taking them for a walk around the neighborhood
- Playing fetch
- Tug of war
- Going for a run
Instead of vying for your attention, your dog will be napping until lunchtime.
Want to make your pet spend more time eating instead of scarfing down their food and bugging you ASAP? Use maze style dog bowls or another type of food dispensing dish that will make your dog work for their meal. This can be a great way to keep your dog occupied, allowing you to sneak off and get some work done. It will also provide some much-needed mental stimulation.
Teach Your Dog to Relax
You can teach your dog commands such as come, lie down, sit, and stay. But when you need your dog to leave you alone and stop begging for attention, try teaching them the command “settle”. With consistent practice, you can teach your dog to relax and lie down if they’re running around the house, invading your office space, or barking at your office door. This command teaches your dog It’s time to relax.
Do you need a safe space in your backyard that your dog can use to get all their energy out? Some dogs are natural escape artists and some backyards may not have secure fencing. This is when an exercise pen can be a great solution. If your dog is driving you crazy, but you don’t have time to supervise them as they play, with an exercise pen you can kick them outside and allow them to run around and play with their toys in a safe and secure enclosure. You can even make this part of your routine, taking your dog outdoors to use their pen at the same time every morning. This should give you some much-needed quiet time so you can focus on your work.
Why Dogs Use Attention Seeking Behavior
Now that you know about some solutions you can try that will prevent attention-seeking behavior, let’s learn why they act this way in the first place.
A dog is a very social creature. They love attention and interacting with their humans, on a daily basis, usually as much as possible. Some pets, especially those who are high energy, often crave attention and will get the attention they feel they deserve, by any means necessary. This is especially true with high energy dogs. Keep this in mind, since a dog may even damage your personal property, just to get some type of attention from you, even if it’s negative. Because of this, it’s important to avoid reacting negatively to their attention-seeking behaviors, such as yelling at them or pushing them away. Doing so will only reinforce their behavior.
Interacting with Your Dog During the Day
Now that you’re working from home, getting your work done with your dog in your face constantly can make being productive seem impossible. If you want your dog to stop with the attention-seeking behavior, then the best thing you can do is schedule some attention time for them a couple of times a day. During these periods, make sure your pet has your full attention. This means staying off your phone, not talking to friends or anyone else in the home, and turning the TV off. Instead, it’s important that you focus all of your time on what you and your pet are doing together. As I mentioned earlier, you can make sure your dog gets some exercise by taking them for a run, throwing the ball around, or even just some wrestling around in the backyard. This is a great way to bond with your pet, showing them that you do love them, and they are important. You can also try pet massage or grooming, or just lying down on the couch with them for half an hour or so.
After your scheduled playtime, head to your home office or workspace and get to work. Until your dog learns that your attention is off limits while you work, you may need to work in a spot in the home that has a door, one that you can close between you and your dog to prevent them from interrupting your work, jumping all over you, and generally being a major distraction that’s impossible to ignore. Make it a point to pay attention to your dog for five to ten minutes when you’re taking a short break.
If your dog whines at your door or starts barking, you must avoid opening the door to let them in to pet them. Letting them in only tells them that whining, and barking will get your attention and will earn them some pets. Try using noise-canceling headphones, earplugs, or turn up some music. Do not open that door.
Rewarding Good Behavior
Make sure you stock up on pet treats. During your scheduled time together, make sure you reinforce your pet’s good behavior. If your pet is calmly chewing on a toy or resting in their crate, offer a treat and a few words of praise. Positive reinforcement is very effective and will go a long way toward encouraging good behavior.
Discourage Attention Seeking Behavior
When your dog does something that drives you crazy, always ignore them. Don’t yell, don’t push them away, and never hit them. Instead, pretend that they don’t exist. If ignoring your dog causes them to settle down, then you can pet her and praise her. If your dog continues with their attention-seeking behavior, then you’ll need to get up and leave the room, continuing to ignore them the entire time.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that you stick by these methods. Learning how to prevent your dog from seeking attention when you’re working isn’t easy. Consistency will be key here. Patience during this time will also be important. However, if you stick to the methods I’ve included in this guide, you will begin to see some major positive changes in your pet’s behavior over the course of a couple of weeks.