Bringing Home Baby Course: Attention Seeking Behaviors


My new self-paced course, Bringing Home Baby: Preparing Dog and Family For A New Baby is now available!

As part of my release, I’m spending some time discussing common topics that parents are often worried about that are covered in detail in the course. If you’re worried about preparing your dog for bringing home a human baby, this course is for you!

Often before a baby arrives, demand or attention seeking behaviors like barking, pawing or whining are not a concern, because it is an adult only household. But once a baby is in the picture then we need to consider whether these behaviors will be safe or wanted once the baby is home. If these behaviors have been well-rehearsed and practiced for a long time, they may take a while to extinguish, so it’s best to get training started early.  I recommend enrolling in my self-paced course, Bringing Home Baby: Preparing Dog and Family For A New Baby as early in the pregnancy as possible so we have maximum time to practice behaviors that we might need to be really reliable around a newborn and to come up with a plan to help reduce well rehearsed, unwanted behaviors before the baby’s arrival.

Dogs do what works.  Always.  If a dog does something that results in a reinforcement, the dog will do it, or try to do it again.  Think about counter surfing.  If your dog jumps up on the counter and successful snags a bagel, jumping up on the counter was reinforced, so your dog will definitely try to look for snackies on the counter at another time.  The only way to stop him from counter surfing is to ensure that if he does, he never is successful. That means keeping your counters clear of all food so he can never be successful again. If even one out of 50 times he is successful, he will keep checking for snacks.

Attention seeking behaviors work the same way. Your dog does something to get your attention and you respond so that behavior works and gets repeated.

Often these behaviors will happen around feeding times, play times or walking times but it’s important to begin to take note of when and how your dog seeks your attention and then think about will those behaviors be safe and desirable when your baby arrives?  For instance, my BooBoo paws at us when she wants to be patted, and since we don’t have an infant, it’s fine and we reinforce it because I think it’s adorable. But, if I were holding an infant, a dog pawing at me just wouldn’t be safe.  Even accidentally, her pawing or her nails could injure an infant. This is a behavior I would want to work on reducing if I were expecting a baby.

What are common attention seeking behaviors? And, will these attention seeking behaviors be safe or wanted once your baby is home?

  • Barking
  • Pawing
  • Whining
  • Jumping
  • Staring
  • Nudging
  • Mouthing
  • Stealing objects
  • Presenting a toy to you
  • Scratching/digging

Learn more about to handle these behaviors, how to reduce them and what not to do, along with lots of other important pre-baby prep skills and training that your family needs to keep your new baby and your dog safe during this time of transition. Schedule a one-on-one pre-baby prep session or enroll in my self-paced course, Bringing Home Baby: Preparing Dog and Family For A New Baby.

Happy training!

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