As I’ve written many times, most dogs are experts at getting attention. In positive reinforcement training, you never are supposed to pay attention to a dog when he’s doing anything bad, no matter how much you may want to yell at him. The theory is that behaviors that are ignored are “extinguished.”
I’ve never completely bought into this idea, since if the dog really LIKES a behavior that seems to weigh heavily in the stop versus continue decision. My dog Leia for example adores the sound of her own voice. She’d probably never stop barking if we didn’t suggest that she do so.
Some attention-getting behaviors are more subtle, however. Tika, who even on a good day excels at being bad, does have one rather cute socially acceptable way to get attention. We call it the “sit stomp."
As I’ve written before, because Tika had so many behavior problems in her youth, we used the “learn to earn" behavior modification program, which basically means she has to sit to “earn" anything she wants. For years, the words “Tika sit!" were a constant in my life. She’s much better now, and she still knows sitting is the way to get what you want.
Now Tika has turned sitting into her own little type of performance art. When she wants something, she comes over and sits behind my chair. Sometimes she’s kind of quiet, so I don’t notice her there. So she’ll do the “sit stomp" which basically entails readjusting her rear end and forepaws repeatedly. In addition to the body rustling behind me, all this wiggling sometimes causes the tags on her collar to jingle too. The end result is that I turn around, which is exactly what she wants.
She usually does another sit stomp and wags furiously. So I tell her it’s a very “good sit" and give her a pet. It more proof that even though you may think you are training your dog, in reality your dog is probably training you.