Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a well-known breed of dog that loves human companionship, and family living. For someone that is yet to experience the joys of having a Cavalier as a pet, they may find this fact to be daunting, or even intimidating, thinking that a Cavalier needs a lot of attention.
As a general rule Cavaliers enjoy human company, and can even suffer from separation anxiety when separated from their owners, but constant attention is not required. Female Cavaliers are quite happy to sit alone on occasions and are known to share their love with all family members.
However, seeking attention is actually a survival skill that puppies are born with to get more food or even affection from their mothers at an early age. But for the human mother or father, the constant barking and jumping up you can be draining, so I researched why some Cavaliers do this.
Why do Cavvys Seek Attention
The majority of the time a Cavalier will seek your attention due to boredom, this may be due to lack of mental stimulation, when they are fearful or scared, lack of exercise, or even if they feel like you are ignoring them.
Sometimes we perceive that our Cavvy is seeking attention when we have been away for them for a long period of time. We get up, rush around getting dressed, and dash off to work, then after 8, 10, or even 12 hours later we arrive back home absolutely exhausted from the day. Your Cavvy has been sitting at home, waiting for you to come back, and is experiencing separation anxiety throughout this period.
All they want to do is smother you will love and affection because you have returned to them, and because you are exhausted, you see this as attention-seeking, but they are simply overwhelmed with excitement to see you.
Of course, most times our pampered pooches are attention-seeking because of you. Yes, all those times when you throw the ball for them when they drop it at your feet or give them a cuddle when they are pawing at your leg, this is giving them the green light to seek more attention from you.
Of course, whether your Cavvy is seeking attention or not is completely subjective. If you enjoy throwing the ball constantly or cuddling on the couch all night then this would not be seen as attention-seeking, just a fun night with your dog. But if this is not for you, then you may see this as a problem.
Is It You?
First things first, are you the problem? This isn’t to say you are a bad Cavvy parent, you just need to assess all situations and it is easier to assess your own behavior than your doggies.
Look at things methodically and work through a list of possibilities:
- Is your Cavvy getting enough exercise?
- Does your Cavvy have enough mental stimulation?
- Is your Cavvy being fed at specific times?
If they are not getting enough exercise, then they may have an excess of energy whilst you are at work, resulting in them jumping and barking at you as soon as you walk through the door.
If your Cavvy doesn’t have any or enough toys to mentally stimulate them throughout the day, then sheer boredom can cause them to act out to get some reaction from you.
If your Cavvy doesn’t have a feeding routine, this too can cause issues. Put yourself in their shoes (or paws), and imagine waiting all day for you to come home before you can eat, and if you are working late at the office, this extra time would feel endless.
When I have to go into the office, we use a pet feeder that has a countdown timer on it that pops open the lid when it reaches zero. Typically I will prepare Lady’s lunch in the morning and turn the dial to the amount of hours delay I want until it’s time to pop open. They are excellent, inexpensive, and come with a small freezer pack to keep the food cool on hot days. We use the Pawise Automatic Feeder as they have single and double feeders.
Dealing with Attention Seekers
Once you have discovered that you are not the problem directly, you must look to see if you are causing this indirectly.
When your Cavvy is lying down, being quiet, or doing exactly what you want, are you rewarding them for their good behavior? Or is it the case that you don’t interact with Cavvy until they do something wrong?
Believe it or not, all dogs, no matter what breed, seek attention. If you only give your Cavvy any attention when they are being naughty or destructive, then they will continue to do that thing to get a reaction out of you. It is very sad to see a dog being destructive or naughty just to get your attention.
To stop bad behavior, you must reverse the way YOU behave. When your Cavvy is good, spend some extra time with them, give them a belly rub, a cuddle, or even the odd treat.
When they are acting up you must ignore their bad behavior, remember they just want a reaction from you, if you don’t react then the bad behavior will stop. At first, of course, the bad behavior will increase, as they are not getting the desired effect, persevere with it and it will get better.
If your Cavvy bites, nips, or if their behavior is uncontrollable, you must take them away from that situation until they calm down, using baby gates is a good idea as they can still see what is going on, but they are no longer a part of it.
My Final Thought
Attention seeking is all a matter of perspective, if you like to constantly play fetch, then it isn’t a problem. All Cavvys need human attention, they crave it, but there must be a good balance. Concentrate on rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad behavior. If their behavior doesn’t improve, then seek help from a professional.