Generally speaking - all animals repeat behaviors that are rewarding while behaviors that are not rewarded tend to fade and extinguish; therefore controlling consequences is the key to controlling behavior.
If you want to see a behavior more often – reward it.
If you want a behavior to stop – find out what the reward is and take it away.
The reward dogs often seek and receive for exhibiting the following behaviors is 'attention'; therefore the best way to stop these behaviors is to take ‘attention’ away using time-outs.
Why use time-outs: One big advantage to the 'time-out' is that it is a mild form of punishment unlikely to make your dog fearful or aggressive. The 'time-out' by its very definition is also the most effective way to put a stop to attention seeking behaviors.
How to time-out: When time-out has been called you will need to take your attention away from your dog. You can do this by turning your back and completely ignoring your dog or separating yourself from your dog. Here are some options available for separation: simply walk away from your dog; put your dog in another room or go into another room yourself; put your dog outdoors; put your dog in a crate or exercise pen; leash your dog to a specific spot. The best option is one that will provide adequate control. For example: if turning your back and ignoring your dog doesn't stop the behavior you will need to separate yourself from your dog.
The Learning Curve: If time-outs are delivered according to these criteria it will probably take 7-12 trials before your dog makes a strong connection between his actions and the consequence. Once a strong connection has been made you should see a rapid decrease in the behavior.
The Dogs Side: Sometimes dogs exhibit attention seeking behavior because they are generally ignored otherwise. If you feel this rings true for your family be sure to schedule quality time with your dog everyday and read the Doggie Boredom Prevention article on my website.
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