Training and Care — Tip Of The Week
Excerpt from Our New
Australian Shepherd Lover's Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care
Begging and Attention Seeking
These behaviors, along with annoying whining, can be a big problem with Aussies who are very attached to their owners. Unfortunately, lots of owners make the problem even worse without realizing it by giving their dog positive attention when they shouldn't.
Remember, the last thing you want to do with attention-seeking behavior is reward it with attention. This just reinforces the behavior and means it will happen more often. For example, if a dog begs for a table scrap for twenty minutes and you give in and feed her something, you've just let her know that as long as she hangs out and keeps begging, she'll eventually get something. This tells her not to give up on begging and whining, because the behavior gets a result.
So, you have to take away that result. Keep in mind our training principles. Never give a treat away for free – always ask for a behavior before you give any kind of treat ("Down" would be a good one in this case). And never feed your dog off your own plate – this encourages begging behavior every time you sit down to eat. In particular, avoid feeding your dog fast food scraps – dogs aren't meant to eat food designed for humans (and a lot of junk food provides no real nutritional value for humans OR dogs anyway).
Also, remember consistency with this stuff. Make sure no one in your family is sneaking the dog scraps – it only takes a few slip ups to ruin everyone else's hard work to break begging behaviors.
Attention-seeking behavior needs to be ignored as much as possible. This can be hard at first, because if your dog is used to getting a reaction, she may whine and beg for a long time before she gives up. This can be annoying, but try to endure the first few times without reacting until she gives up. Just taking away your reaction can sometimes be enough to break the behavior.
Alternatively, you can distract the dog away from begging by launching into an obedience training session.
Sometimes, whining behavior is not a direct attempt to get food or attention but results from real anxiety. If your dog mainly whines when you're not around or you leave the room, read and apply the tips in the next section.
Next time: Separation Anxiety
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