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How to tell if your dog needs more of your attention

Are those sad puppy-dog eyes just a ploy for another treat, or is your furry friend really missing you at the end of the day?

Are you finding enough time in your busy schedule to devote to your dog?

“One of most people’s biggest complaints is that there’s not enough time to do everything, yet we bring in animals that have high needs,” says David Levin, owner of dog walking and training company Citizen Hound. “All dogs want is our time. Chances are the answer is no, our dogs are not getting enough attention.”

Levin warns that a dog that isn’t getting enough attention will probably start to act out in a negative way. “A dog without adequate physical or mental outlets will look to entertain themselves, often times by destroying your favorite shoes, eating a hole in your pillows, ripping up the couch or getting into the trash.” He adds that since these activities are fun for your dog, and often aren’t punished in a timely manner, they tend to turn into bad habits for your pooch.

Celebrity dog trainer Joel Silverman says you may just notice your dog wanting to be closer to you. “Smaller dogs sometimes want to be held more. If you have another dog, you might even notice your attention-seeking dog nudging to get in between you and the other dog.” It’s important to note that while this move may be cute, encouraging it will only start aggression issues between your dogs.

Levin says lack of attention can also cause symptoms in your dog that you might not realize are related.

“The frustration felt can lead to separation anxiety, leash reactivity or aggression,” he says. “It might seem more obvious to have it spelled out, but not many people think about the fact that an under-exercised, under-stimulated dog bounding into the dog park can cause a dog fight for themselves simply by greeting other dogs improperly and being overbearing.”

That makes you think twice about your “anti-social” dog, doesn’t it?

According to Silverman, your dog’s reaction to lack of attention might vary according to your dog, but it also depends on how you react.

“Remember that your dog will quickly learn what does and what doesn’t grab your attention according to how you respond. If you tend to cave in to unreasonable requests for attention, you will get even more obnoxious behavior in the future,” he says.

Basically, if your dog starts acting like a jerk because you’ve been working too much overtime, don’t drop down on the floor beside your chewed up stiletto and give him a day’s worth of attention. You might just come home tomorrow to a pile of chewed up leather. Instead. make a mental note that you need to make some changes, and get on that ASAP.

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