Now that you understand a bit about the concept of space and dogs, why it is important, and how it impacts how interactions and relationships unfold, let’s talk about what we can do to improve things with our furry friends….to disarm them, to help them have a more open broadcast, to help them become more optimistic about future approaches by us and others.
Adjusting and shaping the broadcast….
Ultimately we want and need the dog to be okay with our approach. To understand our body language. To associate it with good news. To look forward to it. Because space is important to animals and they occupy space in a very deliberate way, even a slow and thoughtful approach can be interpreted as a threat. Because not all humans approach animals or even move about their daily routines in a slow and thoughtful way, we can and should prepare the dog for a life with people. We need to shape the dog’s underlying emotions and teach it that many different kinds of approaches can mean good news for it (no strings attached). Practice approaching the dog and pairing that approach with good news…..deliver something the dog likes or loves. Start with slow and thoughtful approaches and gradually build to faster more direct approaches. Be sure to progress only when the dog is completely okay with the last type of approach and think small steps/incremental changes in difficulty for faster and smoother overall progress! The dog should see you coming and look forward to your approach. Hoping for more approaches. There should be no evidence of brace, nervousness, or fear.
When you pay attention to and purposely shape the broadcast in this manner, dogs start to trust (and eventually assume) that you are approaching with good intent, not threatening or challenging them and (with time) they get used to and eventually find comfort in the way you go about your day (some of us are naturally more calm and quiet than others!). Ultimately, we want a dog to be optimistic about our approach AND the approach of others.