How Much Attention do Dogs Need?
My Jack Russell mix wants attention every minute. He will not play with toys alone. Average is 16-18 hours a day. How much time should we actually spend playing and training him? How can we get him to not need our attention every minute?
Most dogs love attention. For example, I'm pretty convinced that my pal Buster would be content to receive attention from every person on earth simultaneously for 24 hours out of every day.
The realities of life prevent most dogs from receiving such extreme amounts of attention. And most of them do fine in spite of it. Buster uses most of his time alone to engage another of his favorite activities: napping.
Some dogs suffer from a condition known as separation anxiety. These individuals may become extremely agitated when they are left alone or do not receive the sort of attention that they desire. Fortunately nothing in your question indicates that your dog is afflicted with separation anxiety.
I recommend that you start with some enrichment activities for your dog. Make sure he gets plenty of exercise every day. Consider feeding him in a Kong toy or foraging ball. Spend part of each day training him--this sort of mental stimulation is vital for well being.
Finally, remember that, if you are like most people, you cannot devote your entire life to your dog. Do not give him attention when he demands it. Instead, give it to him when you want to and are able. There is nothing wrong with ignoring his attention-seeking behavior when you have other things to get done.
Of course, I am not recommending that you neglect your pet. But I have a hunch that will never happen. Spend as much time as you can with him.
Remember that many dogs are left unattended for eight or 10 hours every day while their owners work. The average dog gets by with an hour or two of play time each day. I'd recommend that you, and everyone, aim for much better than average. But 18 hours each day definitely is excessive.
Photo: Foraging balls. The best idea since sliced bread.