Teaching a Pair of Dogs to Respect their Human’s Personal Space

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 4, 2019

For this Omaha dog training session we teach 1 year-old Boxer mix Willow to respect personal space and share tips to stop her from getting into fights with 3 year-old Pitbull Mastiff mix Henry.

Since the dogs had gotten into a few scrapes together, the guardians had Willow in a kennel when I arrived for the session. Henry was pretty excited and game me the first taste of his inability to respect a human’s personal space.

Once Henry settled down a bit, I was ready to let Willow out of the kennel. But as I approached, her energy level increased dramatically so I showed the guardians how to teach a dog to settle down before letting it exit the kennel.

Because both dogs are higher energy, I recommended the guardian use a similar approach anytime the dogs are starting to get over excited. Just like humans, dogs are more prone to making mistakes when in an over stimulated state of mind. Setting up scenarios where you are not in a rush allows you to practice stopping and waiting for the dog to calm itself down before continuing.

This is even more important when you have a bully breed as so many people are ignorant about the breed, thinking all Pitbulls are aggressive. Any dog can bite and Pits are no more disposed to be aggressive than a Chihuahua, Border Collie, Dalmatian, Lab or Corgi. But people see an excited Pitbull and proclaim ” there is an aggressive dog,” when its simply over stimulated.

Stopping and waiting for a dog to settle down is a great strategy for over excited dogs as it teaches the dog to calm down on its own. It takes a lot of repetition and precise timing of stopping, but if you stay with it, the dog learns calm = access, privileges, etc.

Another dog behavior problem the dogs had was getting right up in everyone’s personal space. I have seen dog fights start when one dog thinks the other is getting too close to a person; especially when the guardian has a high value item.

I showed the guardians how to teach a dog to stay behind an invisible line / respect a human’s personal space in the free dog behavior training video below.

Training a dog to keep a reasonable distance unless invited is easy, it just takes some practice. And you don’t have to be a professional Pitbull dog trainer to do this. I suggested the guardians try to stage scenarios where they can practice this personal space exercise a few times a day. Ideally separate from the other dog.

Another important dog behavior tip I shared was that the dogs should not be allowed on the furniture. This can confuse a dog into thinking it has the same rank or status as the humans it lives with. But its also important as one of the fights occurred when Willow was siting on the couch and Henry approached a guardian sitting near by.

I shared a number of other dog behavior tips with the guardians in this in home dog behavior training session that you can hear about by watching the video below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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