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7 Signs Your Dog Feels Neglected + How Much Attention Dogs Need | Pupford

February 2nd, 2024

Filed under Training

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Wouldn’t life be so much better if we could spend every waking (and sleeping) moment with our dogs? Then we would be certain that we wouldn't see as many signs that your dog feels neglected!

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like that for most people. And that’s okay.

While it’s important for our dogs to learn how to be independent and content spending time alone, attention is important. Not enough attention can lead to behavioral problems, which can be really frustrating for you and your dog.

Today we’re going to dive into what exactly “attention” means to your dog, why it’s important, and signs that your dog could use a little more quality time with you.

Related Reading: Does My Dog Love Me?


“But I hug my dog more than I hug my spouse, he certainly gets enough attention!”

First of all, no judgment. Secondly, that objection is common -- but it’s a little misrepresented. There’s a difference between attention and affection, and it’s an important difference.

Affection is showing love to your dog, through belly rubs and snuggles and kisses. Attention, however, is interacting with your dog in a way that makes them find you interesting.

Attention is an active, engaging interaction like playing, walking, training, feeding, and talking to your dog. So you could be giving your dog plenty of affection, but not enough attention. That lack of attention is what can lead to your dog feeling neglected at times.

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Did we read your mind correctly? The short answer for how much attention a dog needs is: it depends.

Factors like age and breed play the biggest role in how much attention your dog needs (larger, working breed dogs typically need the most attention while smaller companion dogs are content with less), but it also can come down to individual personalities, too.

With no clear-cut formula for how much attention your dog needs, you’ll need to pay attention to their behavior for hints.

PS- Learn all the ways your dog shows affection to you here!


a pug dog showing signs of feeling neglected | Pupford

If your dog displays one or more of these behaviors, they may need more attention and engagement and may even be feeling neglected.

  1. Destructive behaviors
  2. Increased barking
  3. Pawing and nudging at you
  4. Whining, crying, and howling
  5. Nipping and play-biting you
  6. Changes in body language
  7. Potty accidents (when already potty trained)

Let's look at each below. 👇


Chewing is unfortunately an inevitable part of raising a pup. It’s a telltale sign of teething and a natural urge your dog will stop at no lengths to satisfy -- even at the sacrifice of your expensive furniture.

But if you notice your dog habitually chewing your shoes or household objects, it could be a sign of anxiety or boredom.

🐶 Give your pup extra attention and play every day with Mental Enrichment Toys! Shop here


Dogs bark for a bunch of reasons - they are alerting you of danger (like the evil squirrel in the backyard!), they’re saying hello to a passerby, or acknowledging a person or dog.

But if your dog’s barking is directed at you, and persists more than usual, it might be their way of asking for more activity.

Yes, it can be very inconvenient to have your dog barking excessively, especially if you work from home or have a napping baby, but try not to get irritated or raise your voice in response, as that could make your dog anxious.

Instead, set aside a little more time in the day to engage with your dog and see if it makes a difference.

Related Reading: How to Stop a Dog From Barking at Night


When your dog paws at you or nudges you with their nose, they are trying to initiate play and get you to interact with them. It’s their way of saying “hello, I’m here and I’m ready for attention!”

It’s important to note that this could also be a sign of anxiety and that they’re looking to you for comfort. Take notice of their body language -- if their ears, tail, and spine look relaxed, they’re probably just looking for more attention. If their tails are tucked, ears are back, or seem stiff, they may be experiencing anxiety.

Related Reading: How to Introduce a Dog to a Baby


Whining, crying, and/or howling are the most common ways your dog will verbally express that they need something. That’s why it’s typically your dog’s go-to response when they have to go potty or their ball gets stuck under the couch.

But if there’s no obvious reason that your dog is crying or howling, they may be trying to express boredom or pent-up energy that they don’t have sufficient release for. It can be a sure sign they're feeling neglected.

That may mean more exercise, engagement, or training sessions are in order. But be sure to keep an eye on your dog’s progress with this, as whining and howling that don’t get better may be a sign of anxiety or pain.

Related Reading: 10 Signs a Dog Is In Pain


At one point or another, your dog has probably transformed from an adorable pup to a landshark in an instant. Nipping and biting are natural play-related instincts for your dog, and it’s our job as pup parents to help them direct that biting behavior appropriately, towards toys and chews.

But sometimes even fully-trained dogs will nip you in the ankle during a Zoom call or nibble your hand as you walk by. This usually isn’t a sign of aggression or resentment; instead, it’s your dog’s way of forcing you to pay attention to them at that moment and (hopefully) engage with them further.

🐶 Give your pup extra attention and play every day with Mental Enrichment Toys! Shop here


This one is a little tricky because changing body language can be caused by a lot of things. But if your dog is rolling on their back in a way that suggests they’re inviting you to rub their belly or play wrestle, it could simply mean they’re looking for interaction.

However, if your dog does these things but also seems anxious, or on edge, or this is a completely new behavior for them, keep a close eye on them to make sure nothing is wrong.

Related Reading: How to Read Dog Body Language


If your dog is already potty trained and then starts to suddenly regress it can be a sign your dog needs more attention.

Sometimes it can be your dog simply asking for attention, and at other times it can be a stress response (from lack of attention/proper exercise). This can also be an indication of underlying medical concerns, and it may be best to rule everything out with your veterinarian.


a dog trying to play because he doesn't have enough attention from his owner | Pupford

We know it’s not realistic to spend every moment engaging with your dog -- the quality of the time spent together matters more than the quantity in most cases.

Make sure you are making the most out of your time with your dog by giving them both affection and attention. You can do this by:

  • Going for a walk or hike together
  • Playing an interactive game like fetch or treat hide and seek
  • Doing a training session
  • Having a dog play date

It’s also just as important to pay attention to what your dog’s doing when you can’t give them attention yourself. This is a great opportunity to give them mental stimulation with tools like:

Combining these tools (that really seem more like treats to your dog!) with crate training can help you and your dog find the perfect balance of enjoying time alone and getting attention from you, without sacrificing any of the stimulation and engagement your dog needs to be happy and healthy!

What're your dog's common signs of feeling neglected or needing attention? Tell us in the comments.

🐶 Give your pup extra attention and play every day with Mental Enrichment Toys! Shop here


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