Settling the dog indoors
Be proactive in setting up a calm environment. When you sit down to watch television or to work, encourage him to do the same. Ask the dog to settle on its bed. Avoid getting into a staring match with the dog because it will learn that it only has to complete this behaviour when being watched.
If the dog gets up use your best judgement and apply the same principles as the attention seeking part below. If the dog wants to settle out of its bed, this is ok, we want the dog to settle down, it can choose where its most comfortable as long as it remains calm.
Whenever we see the dog pacing or agitated, give them gentle direction with a known behaviour such as ‘come here’ or ‘go to bed’
Avoid asking them questions such as ‘what’s the matter’ or ‘what do you want’
If they come over to rest on your foot/makes contact with you, this is not him trying to assert himself, but in these moments, he may have just got a little stressed out, give him comfort in strokes if they need it or encourage them to settle in their bed.
Attention seeking, or information seeking, is a common stress-based behaviour, it is also a behaviour dogs do for good reason when they are happy. When the dog indicates it wants something, we need to use our best judgement, has it been fed, does it have access to water and when was the last time it went toilet? If all of these needs have been met then it will not be in need of them and it is likely to be attention seeking as a result of stress. If there has been a lot going on for the dog to get stressed or there has been a sudden change in the environment such a loud noise, then this is likely driven by stress. In these moments, we want to settle the dog down, rather than add a stimulus. Encourage the dog to use their bed, give them something to chew to help pacify them, but our goal is the same, reduce their arousal level. Picking their arousal level up in these moments can have an adverse knock on affect and our dogs learn to get overstimulated in these moments rather than calmly engage in them.
If you feel that it is not a stress based behaviour, please indulge the dog in some fun and entertainment.