When a dog approaches us, the roles are reversed. We get to decide and dictate what is appropriate and acceptable. Space should be important to us. However, this is where things get convoluted. It’s easy to come up with reasons to always let the dog barge right in. Maybe you want the dog to like or love you. It’s easier. Maybe you want the dog to be extra drivey (run hard and fast, tug like a fiend, and drive into you) to build drive, teach tight turns, and maximize their performance in dog sports. Listen to me now and hear me later….
- YOUR DOG WILL STILL LOVE AND LIKE YOU. You can always invite your dog into your personal space. You can love on it until the cows come home. It will not affect the bond you share. In fact, it may even reveal a sweeter side of your dog.
- IT IS WORTH THE EFFORT AND THE WAIT. Teaching your dog to confidently read your body language and pay attention to relevant context clues is a worthy and natural cause….a life skill every dog should acquire. Also, the best way to develop self control in a dog is to work on it in a way, a context, that speaks to the nature of the dog.
- YOU CAN STILL TEACH YOUR DOG TO DRIVE INTO YOU HARD, FAST, AND FIENDISHLY. Remember, the point is to end up with a dog that efficiently reads body language cues, picks up on whatever open invitations you’re broadcasting, and responds appropriately. Your dog will be better able to read your body language and relevant context clues to determine what you want and when you want it…..it will be obvious and still a raging good time. This concept of space and building drive are not mutually exclusive. We’ll get more into drive building in future posts.
For more information on improving your dog’s approach be sure to read the post “Training for awareness of personal space.”