Seeing your dog showing signs of an injury can be alarming for any pet owner.
Of course, we all want our dogs to be happy and healthy, so a potential injury is a natural cause for concern.
But what if they might be faking it?
Do dogs fake injuries sometimes, and if so, why?
Let’s find out…
Can Dogs Fake Injuries to Get Their Owner’s Attention?
Yes, dogs can fake injuries to get their owners’ attention.
Certain behaviors, such as itching, limping, or sneezing, could be signs of an underlying issue.
However, these symptoms could also result from the dog faking them due to wanting attention from you.
This post will provide information about the symptoms dogs might exhibit to get attention and what might be a sign of a more serious issue.
We will also explain what you can do if your dog uses this behavior to get attention.
Injuries and Symptoms a Dog Might Fake
Sometimes, it can be hard to distinguish between a real problem and a fake one, especially when they have similar symptoms.
For example, the following is a list of symptoms a dog might face.
But, as you will see, they can all be symptoms of a real issue.
Itching can indicate several issues in dogs, from skin irritations to food allergies.
However, it could also be an attention-seeking behavior your dog uses to get you to notice them.
Ruling out possible causes for itchy skin is one way to determine if your dog might be performing this behavior to get your attention.
Make sure they’re up to date on flea medication and check for the presence of fleas or ticks.
If you think food allergies could be to blame, see if there are any hives or rashes on the dog’s skin.
If you don’t find any evidence of fleas or allergies, it could well be that your dog is pretending to be itchy to get more of your attention.
NOTE – Click here if you would like to know the answer to the question: do dogs know what their owners’ names are?
Noticing that your dog is walking with a limp can raise concerns that they suffered an injury, such as a muscle tear or bone fracture.
However, some dogs may put on a limp intentionally to call out for your attention.
One way you can discern if your dog is faking a limp or not is if the dog is seeing if the dog switches the leg that they are limping on.
If the limp is inconsistent in this way or varies depending on the dog’s mood, there’s a good chance it is a sham injury.
Another way of determining if the injury is real or fake is to examine the leg they are limping with.
If it is sore, they will react when you touch it.
Please do this carefully just in case they really are injured.
You don’t want to cause them unnecessary pain or risk being bitten in the process.
Before we go on, if you aren’t convinced that dogs can fake injuries, take a look at this short video.
Just click the video, and it will start to play:
NOTE – You might also enjoy reading this post asking the question: why do dogs show their teeth when they are feeling guilty?
While it may seem like an odd symptom to fake, dogs do, in fact, fake sneezing to get attention.
You may think your pet is experiencing some kind of respiratory infection if you hear them persistently sneezing, but this could be a behavior that the dog uses to get you to pay attention to them.
Dogs might fake sneezes for many other reasons besides getting attention.
Sometimes, it’s simply a rather odd way of showing playfulness or contentment.
Also, similar to barking, dogs also use fake sneezes to communicate with one another.
The most important thing to do here is to ensure your dog shows no other signs of ill health.
If they do, you should take them to the vet; if not, they could be faking it.
Signs of a More Serious Issue
There are also some signs and symptoms of illness that dogs can’t fake, and you should never ignore those.
They include any of the following:
While there are many symptoms that a dog can fake to get attention, dogs can’t force themselves to throw up.
An isolated vomiting incident isn’t a huge cause for concern.
However, persistent vomiting could signify a more serious gastrointestinal issue, so your dog should be checked on by a vet as soon as possible.
Like vomiting, loose stools aren’t something that a dog has control over.
If you notice that your dog is afflicted with diarrhea, it could be for several different reasons, including:
- Gastrointestinal issues.
- Ingestion of a foreign object.
Be sure to take them to a veterinarian to determine what’s causing the issue so it can be addressed.
Fevers are caused by involuntary bodily responses that even the best actor (dog or human) can’t fake.
If you notice your dog is running a fever, it is a clear sign of a problem and should be addressed by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Remember, fevers are just as dangerous to dogs as to people, so don’t wait to take your four-legged friend to the vet.
How To React if Your Dog Fakes Injuries
So, you’ve determined your dog is faking his injuries. What do you do now?
Get a Check-Up From a Vet
If you suspect your dog is faking injuries but aren’t sure, take your dog to the vet. It’s better to ensure that there isn’t a more severe problem causing the behavior.
While your diagnosis can be helpful in this regard, you’ll ultimately want to get reassurance from a professional that no health issues are present.
Take your dog to the vet for a check-up to ensure that they have a clean bill of health.
Inform the vet of any behaviors you’ve observed in the dog that makes you think they’re faking an injury.
That will allow them to see if a more serious underlying issue is causing the behavior.
Then, once you are sure they are faking whatever injury or symptoms they display, you need to train them out of this behavior.
(If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this website has some valuable resources for charities that can help you pay your bills.)
Don’t Coddle Your Dog When They Are Faking It
You love your dog, so it’s only natural to want to do something when it seems to be in pain.
However, please resist the urge to baby your dog over their fake injury.
This will only encourage the behavior to continue as the dog gets the attention they’re looking for.
It may be challenging to do, but you mustn’t validate the attention-seeking behavior of your dog by giving in to their demands.
Instead, ignore the dog while they’re simulating an injury and continue with the routine you’d typically have with your pet.
They’ll see that the behavior isn’t getting the desired result and will give it up after a while.
Don’t Punish Your Dog for Faking an Injury
On the other side of the coin, you shouldn’t react harshly to your dog’s attention-seeking behavior.
Scolding your dog is not only unpleasant for you and your dog, but it reinforces the dog faking an injury because you are giving them the attention they crave, even if it’s negative attention in this case.
Instead of reacting negatively, take a moment to think about what might be motivating your dog toward this behavior.
For example, is there some change in your life, such as a new relationship or a new job that you’re starting, that has caused you to pay less attention to them than usual?
Setting aside a small portion of your day to give your dog your undivided attention might resolve their feigned injury and make you and them much happier.
NOTE – If you have trouble training your dog. Click here to read this post – my dog ignores me.
Final Thoughts On if Dogs Can Fake Injuries for Attention
It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your dog’s health.
Please don’t assume they’re acting out for attention when there could be a more serious underlying condition.
Getting professional advice from a veterinarian is the best way to be sure about your dog’s health.
However, if you conclude that your dog is faking an injury, it’s important to react appropriately.
Please don’t give in and accidentally reinforce their behavior positively or negatively.
Instead, ignore the faked injury and look for ways to fulfill your dog’s desire for attention healthily.
Ok, so this is the end of this post asking the question – can dogs fake injuries?
We hope it answers your questions, but if not, please feel to comment below.
And thanks for stopping by to visit The Factual Doggo.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!