My Boxer Odin is an affectionate dog. He loves being right next to me when I'm working, cooking or reading. Sometimes he wants to jump right up on my lap and cuddle - but that doesn't work considering his size. Additionally, this becomes a dangerous habit in the kitchen, especially when the oven is involved. As a result of Odin's need to be right next to me, I've received scratches on my legs from his nails and I've fallen over him while carrying food (which might have been funny except it meant dropping dinner on the floor).
Now Odin has much better habits, especially when it's just us in the apartment. This is what I did to break his bad habits.
Consider Time for Affection
Some dogs are more affectionate than others. Just like people, they need social interaction and cuddle time. After making sure Odin is in a calm state, I provide him with the affection that he needs. During this time, I focus only on him. This usually only requires a few minutes at a time, and afterwards he isn't trying to climb into my lap.
Odin has to realize that he can't be right next to me at all times. When I'm working at the computer or spending time with company, I can't always stop what I'm doing to spend extra time with him. However, I have provided my dog with consistency.
After his post-dinner walk, Odin understands that he is allowed out in the living room to spend time with our family. By providing him with a routine, he knows what to expect and becomes less demanding during other times of the day.
Training was also key in breaking Odin of bad attention-seeking habits. He already knows he is not allowed on furniture, but he occasionally acts like the rule does not apply if a human is sitting on said furniture. This resulted in his paw on my lap on more than one occasion, and I end up with scratches on my skin or dirty jeans.
I consistently told him "no" and removed his paw from my lap when he would do this. I would also say "good boy" when he placed his head on my lap or decided to rest at my feet, as these means of closeness are acceptable.
It's easy to tell Odin "no" when there's a safety issue. Getting into the trash can result in a dog's death, for example, so discouraging him seems necessary. Discouraging my dog from demanding affection was very difficult at first, but I notice we understand each other a lot more now that he understands my expectations.
This article was originally published on the Yahoo Contributor Network.