What the bridging stimulus does is focus the dog’s attention on that point in time when attention withdrawal is imminent. It is not intended to be aversive but rather to be a consistent herald of what is to follow. Attention behavior will melt away more consistently and rapidly if a bridging stimulus is used than if attention withdrawal is employed on its own without such a signal.
Philosophical Considerations in Attention Seeking Dogs
If a dog is always begging for attention there must be a reason. It may be that the dog is being ignored at home or that he is spending too much time alone or in a crate. It may be that the dog is getting insufficient exercise or mental stimulation and has excess steam to blow off or has nothing better to do. It is important to address these issues, too, rather than just trying to stop the dog from doing something that annoys you. Attention-seeking behavior may be merely the tip of an iceberg of discontent.
So, in addition to preventing the unwanted behavior it is important to ensure that your dog’s lifestyle is all that it should be. Questions to ask and address are:
- Does your dog get enough exercise? The minimum is 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily (unless a medical problem precludes this amount).
- Is your dog eating a sensible diet? Don’t feed your dog “rocket fuel” (performance rations) if he doesn’t get much exercise and spends much of the day cooped up at home.
- Is your level of communication with your dog adequate? You should be striving toward greater than 85 percent responsiveness to one word “commands” (verbal cues) such a SIT, DOWN, COME, and QUIET.
- Is your dog being rewarded with your attention, petting, praise, whatever, by doing something that you like? If not, start indicating your approval of desired behaviors using these rewards.
- Does your dog have gainful employment (“a job”)? If not, try to engage him in some breed specific activity so that he can perform the function for which he was bred, for example retrieving/hunting exercises for sporting breeds, running chasing for herding breeds, or sniffing things out for hounds.
Conclusion on Canine Attention Seeking Behavior
Dogs that display attention-seeking behaviors are needy individuals that are probably under duress or are in some emotional conflict. Pretty much, any behavior can be reinforced as an attention seeking behavior: Attention-seeking components may be involved in various other behavior problems, too. The attention-hungry dog will do whatever works best to get you to pay more attention to him.