Nigel Reed, founder of Dog Training in London, is a dog trainer and dog behaviour expert with 15-years’ experience working with the most difficult dogs. Here he shares his tips on how to teach your dog about personal space and to stop them from jumping up at you and visitors…
Respecting the universal rule of personal space is taught to most of us from childhood. There are however many dogs that do not understand this rule and invade the space of strangers/ family/friends and their owners. Intrusive actions such as dogs that jump up, nudging and invading space can be problematic to an individual, particularly if they are scared of dogs
This problematic behaviour can be the result of several things:
- Inconsistencies in the dog being allowed to behave in this way with some people but not with others.
- General over excitement in particular situations or with certain people.
- The dog just does not understand that they shouldn’t be doing it.
Whatever the dog’s reason for invading space, we the owners can teach them their actions are inappropriate with a clear language.
To teach the dog how to respect personal space with every person, first begin by teaching them how to respect your personal space in your home. For the lesson to be clear, avoid eye contact or speaking with your dog. By not looking or speaking this is a clear language to say you are not interacting.
If the dog persists in invading your space uninvited, push them away firmly but gently without looking or saying a word. If they persist, take them by the collar, move them away a few meters, release them and go back to where you were. If the dog returns to invade your space then take them by the collar, isolate them in another room and close the door. Once in isolation the dog’s state will reduce and they can think about the consequence of their actions.
Once they appear calm, let them out and return to your original spot (remember the whole process is to be done without speaking or looking). If they persist by coming back, repeat the isolation process as many times as necessary so they learn the message not to approach you uninvited.
On your terms
Once they leave you alone, then you can invite them over for affection by looking at them and calling them into your space. This will confirm the message of who instigates the attention. If they become intrusive once you have invited them show them that was not a good idea by turning away and repeating the process as many times as necessary for them to learn an appropriate calm response to when you call them over.
The dog will work out they will get affection if they are respectful and will be ignored or isolated if they are not. Once the dog understands this message with you, it lays the foundations for a correct response of how they should be with others. Instruct other people to be consistent with the language so the dog understands they will get affection once the person requests it. The dog may not be able to help themselves with certain people so prepare to intervene if they need reminding.