I want it and I want it now.

I was standing chatting with some friends; Luke was trying to achieve eye contact with me. I looked at him and asked "what do you want?" He grabbed his bottle of water that hangs off my dog pouch and pulled. He had just had a drink of water; I don't want him drinking too much at a time on a walk so I told him no more. He then grabbed his bowl which is also attached to the pouch; hmmmmm. I do not like demanding behavior; Luke wanted attention and wanted me to stop talking and keep walking. "Knock it off;" I told him making it clear that this was not acceptable behavior. He then gave me a quick look and ran off.

The other day in the park I watched as a young and very obnoxious dog attempted to control his guardian. The dog was off leash when I got there and by it's behavior I knew I didn't want it coming my way. I had Jessie and at 14 and grouchy she will not put up with obnoxious. The woman saw us and attempted to put the leash on; the dog was not helping. He was jumping; spinning and biting her arms and the leash. Once the leash was on he jumped and bit at the leash and her arms the entire time. She was fighting with him but he was winning; I was just glad she got the leash on.

All dogs can try your patience; some will test, some will push. The end result and lesson will result by what you do in return. Many demanding behaviors can seem cute to start with; "oh look he wants to walk himself." So if you don't know what is actually going on you can reinforce an obnoxious behavior. You not only allow it but you encourage it. Yikes.

Leash grabbing and yanking is a very common demanding behavior. Your dog may not feel like being on leash or want to go in an opposite direction as you want. They grab the leash and start pulling; or they start jumping up at you and biting. You may try to pull the leash back and a game of tug-o-war starts. That was easy; your dog simply had to tug on the leash and you oblige with a game. The annoying jumping resulted in a game of push and shove; it may not be fun to you but your dog got the attention he was seeking.

Depending on the demanding behavior will factor in how you should react. Ignoring is the first step; it is often all that is needed. If you watch dogs interacting they too use ignoring to deter attention seeking behavior. But if it is a persistant type dog or a behavior that has previously been reinforced; ignoring will often create a "gets worse before it gets better" situation. The best reaction is to nip it in the bud so to speak; at the first sign you must react. Often it can be avoided in entirety if you are quick enough. When you see the first sign of leash grabbing or whatever the demanding behavior is you do something else. Something that creates an incompatible behavior. Doing some heeling; learning a new trick, pick up the pace of your walk, do direction training, work on your dogs catch. By creating an incompatible behavior situation you get rid of the demanding behavior. But as is typically the case you must have good timing; you want to avoid any idea that the demanding behavior caused a good reaction; meaning reinforcing of bad behavior.

A good example is; Luke is demanding attention from me. So as to not create a reinforcing situation I will ignore him; walk away and make like I am involved in some other activity. As soon as he is distracted from getting my attention I will pick up the lead and get into some serious obedience training. If he decided to bite his leash while on a walk for some attention; he would not get it. He would get a huge sigh of disgust from me and ignoring. Defusing an attention seeking behavior is very tricky; you must take the utmost of care to have your timing down and in no way reward it.

If your dog is displaying a demanding behavior; think about what their agenda is. What are they wanting? Watch, ponder and learn. Many dogs bark outside so that you will then come and let them in; works doesn't it? Nudging at your hand while you are watching your favorite show is a great way to demand attention. Staring at the soaked tennis ball at your feet works like a charm. If they stare hard enough; you throw it right? Often these are the small things that mess up a good relationship; just who is in charge? And when you look at your relationship closely you may discover that it is not you at all that is in charge.


  1. Very good points, Sherri! You are the dog whisperer in my book! Haha! I agree that many of us, at one time or another, will think it's cute to allow certain behaviors to go on and on until the moment comes when the behavior is getting out of hand and then the corrections begin. Even as a pet sitter and as a 3 pet owner I've been guilty of allowing "CUTE" behavior to go on at first and then (as you stated) it's not fun anymore and I've learned the hard way, I'm afraid. Great information!

  2. Thanks, Sherri. Too many good dogs end up in shelters because "cute" behavior that the owners have allowed gets annoying or out of control. Dumping the dog is easier than trying to fix the problem. Thanks for the reminder that nipping it in the bud before a problem is created is the fastest solution.


Love to hear from you.