Most dogs and cats are very attached to their people and often solicit attention from them. The manner in which they do so can effect the manner in which the people interact with them. Pets that receive little attention from their people, those that are particularly needy for attention, or those that may have never had any guidelines set about acceptable behavior may resort to extremes to get attention.
Dogs may jump on their people, nudge them, pull at their clothing, nip at them, or bark at them. Cats may scratch people, pull at their clothing, pounce, howl, or stroll up and down on their body. Sometimes pets become destructive. Both cats and dogs can learn to steal objects or knock them from forbidden surfaces if it gets them attention. Many cats scratch furniture because they know that it will result in someone chasing them.
It is important to remember that if an animal is severely needy of attention, for whatever reason, it will get that attention by any means possible. For an animal that craves attention, even negative attention is better than none. It is important that pets do not learn that misbehavior is the best way to satisfy their need for attention. This is particularly true for pets that are overly anxious. These animals are not just misbehaving-they are abnormal and negative attention will worsen their behavior.
The mode for treatment of attention seeking behavior is the same as for prevention. Although most attention seeking behavior is not dangerous, they are annoying, and annoying behaviors prompt complaints. Annoying behaviors cause people to take their pets to shelters. It is critical to control such behaviors. Fortunately this is not difficult.