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Personal space with your pets
17/01

 

What do your pets mean to you?
 
I often think about this – I see so many pets (and their people). I can see and feel how their furry friends fill up their lives with love and companionship. Indeed, their pets are more than friends, they are members of the family.
 
This is even more so if the humans in question don’t have any human children – then their pets take the emotional place of children. This can be both good and bad – certainly there is very strong evidence that people who have pets are healthier and happier.
 
However, many of these pets are spoilt rotten – not that there’s anything wrong with giving your pet the best food, yummy treats, warm winter coats, a comfy bed, and of course funky toys… Where people run into trouble (and I have to say here that most of these people don’t actually know that there is any problem) is when they have a complete lack of boundaries with their dogs.
 
If you watch dogs together interacting (well socialised dogs!) – you’ll see that each dog has a bubble of personal space. Other dogs only come into that space when invited, generally. If they are not invited, then you may see a growl, a snap, some sort of communication, and the dog whose space has been invaded will push the other dog out.
 
Humans do the same thing – we don’t let strangers into our bubble (if we have a choice). We communicate very clearly in our body language and other communication where the edges of our comfort zone are, in terms of personal space.
 
What I see again and again with my clients are dogs who have a complete lack of respect for their human’s personal space. It doesn’t surprise me at all that this is far worse when people have no children. You have to teach your dog boundaries with a baby!
 
The thing most people don’t understand is that their dogs are actually stressed out when they don’t provide them with clear boundaries (aka leadership).
 
Your dogs are continually pushing and pushing, looking for an edge. When I work with dogs like this, I teach people to teach their dog an “out” command. It’s quite simple. I keep them out of my personal space (and teach their people how to do the same thing) until they stop trying to push into it. When they stop pushing (and it can take a while!), then I invite them in, and shower them with positive attention. Then I’ll ask them to move out of my personal space again.
 
I’ve seen one very needy, clingy, full on border collie show a remarkable change after 15 minutes of this – I was working on another dog, and he wanted to be on top of me, nudging, pushing, demanding attention. I held him out until he stopped pushing to come in. You could see his brain thinking so hard, working it all out. Then when I let him in, he lay down and went to sleep at my feet. His mum was amazed!
 
I know you love your pets. Giving them clear, loving boundaries like this (you can let them jump all over you whenever you want – the key is that they respect your personal bubble of space when you ask them to) really helps your pet feel safer, more secure, and more relaxed…What do your pets mean to you?
 
I often think about this – I see so many pets (and their people). I can see and feel how their furry friends fill up their lives with love and companionship. Indeed, their pets are more than friends, they are members of the family.
 
This is even more so if the humans in question don’t have any human children – then their pets take the emotional place of children. This can be both good and bad – certainly there is very strong evidence that people who have pets are healthier and happier.
 
However, many of these pets are spoilt rotten – not that there’s anything wrong with giving your pet the best food, yummy treats, warm winter coats, a comfy bed, and of course funky toys… Where people run into trouble (and I have to say here that most of these people don’t actually know that there is any problem) is when they have a complete lack of boundaries with their dogs.
 
If you watch dogs together interacting (well socialised dogs!) – you’ll see that each dog has a bubble of personal space. Other dogs only come into that space when invited, generally. If they are not invited, then you may see a growl, a snap, some sort of communication, and the dog whose space has been invaded will push the other dog out.
 
Humans do the same thing – we don’t let strangers into our bubble (if we have a choice). We communicate very clearly in our body language and other communication where the edges of our comfort zone are, in terms of personal space.
 
What I see again and again with my clients are dogs who have a complete lack of respect for their human’s personal space. It doesn’t surprise me at all that this is far worse when people have no children. You have to teach your dog boundaries with a baby!
 
The thing most people don’t understand is that their dogs are actually stressed out when they don’t provide them with clear boundaries (aka leadership).
 
Your dogs are continually pushing and pushing, looking for an edge. When I work with dogs like this, I teach people to teach their dog an “out” command. It’s quite simple. I keep them out of my personal space (and teach their people how to do the same thing) until they stop trying to push into it. When they stop pushing (and it can take a while!), then I invite them in, and shower them with positive attention. Then I’ll ask them to move out of my personal space again.
 
I’ve seen one very needy, clingy, full on border collie show a remarkable change after 15 minutes of this – I was working on another dog, and he wanted to be on top of me, nudging, pushing, demanding attention. I held him out until he stopped pushing to come in. You could see his brain thinking so hard, working it all out. Then when I let him in, he lay down and went to sleep at my feet. His mum was amazed!
 
I know you love your pets. Giving them clear, loving boundaries like this (you can let them jump all over you whenever you want – the key is that they respect your personal bubble of space when you ask them to) really helps your pet feel safer, more secure, and more relaxed…

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