Dealing With a Needy Pet
You want your pet to love you. If you’ve recently adopted or taken home a new pet, it can sometimes seem like they don’t really care whether you’re there or not. However, after a while they may come to love you a little too much and become very clingy or needy. They may follow you everywhere, cry when you leave, or even act out when they’re lonely or upset. Here are some tips for dealing with a needy pet.
Identify the Signs
You’ll need to differentiate between normal pet behavior and genuine neediness. Animals need and want love and affection, so it’s normal for them to want to be pet and played with throughout the day. However, neediness leads an animal to start to be annoying. They may cry if you’re out of their sight, even if you’re just in the bathroom or taking out the trash. Needy pets may become demanding, constantly crying, whining, barking, or nudging to get your attention no matter what you’re doing. They may also do so to visitors to your home. If left unchecked, neediness can lead to separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can lead animals to chew or claw at your stuff.
Figure Out the Cause
To truly address the problem, you need to figure out why your pet is so needy. Some animals, like small children, become needy and clingy when they don’t feel well. Look out for other signs of illness that might be causing them to cling to you. Animals, especially dogs and cats, are social creatures that typically have packs or groups. If you have a single animal that came from a foster home or rescue group where they had other animal companions, they may start clinging to you. Without other furry friends to keep them company, you become their main source of socialization. You may also have inadvertently rewarded needy behavior in the early stages, making the problem worse.
Find a Solution
There are multiple solutions to neediness, depending on the cause. Of course, if your pet clingy because they don’t feel well, you’ll want to take him to the vet so he can get better. It’s a trickier problem if your pet used to have other animals around all day. While you can get another pet, this isn’t always an option for you or your family. Socialize your pet and provide opportunities to play with other animals. Bring your dog to the dog park or arrange kitty play dates for your cats. Giving your pets the chance to regularly play with other animals might lessen their dependence on you. When you can’t bring them to a park or play date, make sure they get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation at home.
There are also ways to train your pet to be less needy and more independent. When your pet is being needy, don’t engage with them. Be sure to pet them lots when they’re behaving well. You can try simply ignoring the behavior, but it might take an animal a long time to make the connection and they may lash out without other training. If your pet has a trigger that gets them upset, like you putting on shoes or grabbing your keys, do it but don’t leave the house to teach them not to associate that action with being alone. You can also encourage your pet to spend time alone. Get a crate and fill it with toys and treats and let them explore. Providing a nice space for them will help them learn that it’s okay to be by themselves.