How to Train Your Dog to Respect Your Personal Space

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

It has been a whirlwind since you welcomed your gorgeous new dog into your home. He’s put a smile on everyone's face and you look forward to seeing him when you come from work each day. Even your tough and usually grumpy partner goes all soft around him. However, it isn’t all plain sailing. Your loyal pooch does have one rather irritating habit, though. He doesn’t respect your personal space. He’s constantly craving attention and climbs on top of you, regardless of what you are doing. This may have been cute to start with, but now it is getting to be a bit much. 

Training him to respect your personal space is essential for both of you. You need some peace and quiet every now and then. Plus, your partner wants to be able to cuddle you on the sofa in the evening, without the dog being in the middle. It will also be good for your dog. Setting boundaries will help prevent him getting separation anxiety when you have to leave the house.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to respect your personal space isn’t always straightforward. It is particularly difficult if he’s been used to being up close and personal with you for many years. You will have to set some clear boundaries. You will also need to set a routine for him, so he knows he will still get the love and attention he needs. You may also need to make his personal space more attractive and channel his energy into something productive.

If he’s just a puppy he should still be learning the rules and you could see swift results, in just a week or two. If he’s older and always been on the clingy side then you may need a while longer. You could need up to six weeks to fully kick the habit. Succeed and you’ll both feel much better for it.

Getting Started

Before training can begin you will need to collect a few bits. Get your hands on some new toys and food puzzles. You will also need to stock up on treats or break your dog's favorite food into small pieces.

Try and set aside 10 minutes each day for training. Five in the morning and another five in the evening would be ideal. You may also want to look at getting him an exciting new bed.

Once you have all that, just bring patience and a positive attitude, then work can begin!

The Stop Method

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Step
1
Traffic signal
Whenever he approaches you, stand up and put your hand towards your dog like a ‘stop’ traffic signal. If you automatically move towards him like this, he will instinctively halt and hesitate.
Step
2
‘STOP’
At the same time you give the hand signal, issue a ‘STOP’ command in a clear but firm voice. You can use any word or phrase you like for the command. This is letting him know that he must wait for your permission to enter your personal space.
Step
3
Reward
When he stops, give him a reward and some verbal praise. Make sure you give the treat as quickly as you can to start with. This will help him understand that it is the waiting that earned him the reward.
Step
4
Increase the time
Over the next few days, gradually increase the length of time you leave him waiting there before you call him over and give him the treat. Once he gets the hang of it, you can also lose the hand gesture and just use the verbal command.
Step
5
Consistency
Once he fully understands the command, you can use it to control whenever he wants to come into your personal space. If you don’t want him to, you can leave him there or send him to his bed. When you do want him, you can call him over. Soon enough he will stop entering your personal space automatically and always stop and wait for your approval.
Recommend training method?

The Routine Method

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Step
1
Morning routine
When you wake up, spend a couple of minutes saying hello and giving him a cuddle in his bed. This will let him know that you will regularly come to see him, so he doesn’t need to constantly pester you.
Step
2
Evening routine
Do exactly the same thing in the evening. Give him cuddles and say good night. If his pestering you is attention-seeking behavior, this straightforward routine could put a lid on it.
Step
3
Spruce up his bed
If he has a private space of his own that he enjoys and is comfy, then he won’t constantly invade your personal space. So, consider a new bed and moving his bed to somewhere quiet and relatively enclosed. Three walls around his bed is ideal.
Step
4
Exercise
Take him out for plenty of exercise each day. This is particularly effective if he is a puppy. He may be invading your personal space because he is full of energy. So, tire him out and he will spend his time napping instead of bothering you.
Step
5
Treats
You need to incentivize him to stay in his own space. An effective way to do that is to place the odd treat in his bed. This will make him associate his own space with positive things and he’ll be more likely to stay there.
Recommend training method?

The Cold Shoulder Method

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Step
1
10 minutes a day
Spend at least 10 minutes each day focusing entirely on him. You can stroke him and play around with him. Give him all the love and attention he needs. Do this so you know he is definitely getting enough attention, that way you can set clear rules the rest of the time.
Step
2
‘NO’
If he comes over to you when you don’t want him to, give a firm ‘NO’. Don’t terrify him, but make sure he understands you do not want attention. This is his warning and chance to move away of his own accord.
Step
3
Lead him out the room
If he ignores your command, calmly take him by the collar and lead him out of the room. Leave him there for a minute or so and then you can open the door again. This will further reinforce that you want some space.
Step
4
Cold shoulder
If he comes back again, completely ignore him. It is important he learns that pestering you won’t get him the attention he wants. If you give in, you are effectively telling him that he just needs to be consistent. So stay strong and ignore him until he gives up. You’re asserting your position as the pack leader this way.
Step
5
Never punish him
It is important you do not punish him when he invades your personal space. Do this and you will just scare him. If he’s scared he may be even more desperate to please you and then pester you further. So, deal with him calmly and quietly.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Jaxson
Rotterman
1 Year
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Question
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Jaxson
Rotterman
1 Year

Jaxson is a sweet boy. When we got him he was already kennel and potty trained, but he’s terrible with personal space and begging. He demands petting all the time and when you ignore him he’ll look around until he find anything he knows he shouldn’t be messing with and mess with it just to get some attention. He like to pick up shoes and hold them in his mouth until you notice him. His constant need for attention doesn’t stop when we’re eating either. He whines and begs for our food, and even has a nasty habit of taking food from our hands. I’m not sure what to do, but some advice would be great!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mercy, I would start by working on pup's general relationship with you since he is so bold as to take food from your hands. Check out the article I have linked below and the three methods found there. I would choose two or three of those methods to practice to help gain pup's respect for you gently and calmly. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you I would also teach Place, Leave It, Out, and Drop It. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Drop It – Exchange method: https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-it I would give pup more to do, by using pup's meal kibble ration to stuff puzzle toys, dog food stuffed kongs, kong wobbles, and similar toys pup can entertain himself with. Finally, once pup understands the new rules, when pup disobeys a command or rule he has already been taught in order to get your attention, you may need to use a remote training collar so you have a way to enforce commands without having to give additional attention. The correction should be on pup's working level, which is the lowest level pup indicates they can feel when standing and calm when you test ahead of time, and corrected only for something pup knows and chooses to disobey, giving pup better options, like a toy to choose instead. How to and fit video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Evvy
German Shepherd/bull massive
3 Years
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Question
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Evvy
German Shepherd/bull massive
3 Years

My boyfriend josh’s dog needs to learn healthy boundaries . We live together and when I moved in there wasn’t any boundaries for him . How can I help communicate to him the effect of healthy boundaries an all the positive things that will come from it .

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tiffany, If he is okay with you doing some proactive training with pup, seeing is often the best way to show someone that. I would use gentler methods in this case, especially if he is hesitant about training. Teaching things like Place, Down, Out, Leave It, Sit, and Wait - as some options for commands that can help with boundaries, using methods that are reward based and calm. Some benefits of boundaries are: 1. Helps anxious dogs feel less anxious because they don't have to be in control as much, and communication is more predictable. 2. Makes it easier to involve pup in other areas of your life, like travel, public places, friends' homes, the vet, the groomers, hiking, ect... 3. Often reduces yelling and harsh interactions with pup because there is calm, consistent communication; listening and respect present; more confidence and a proactive approach from those who live with pup, instead of just reactivity to pup when they do something you don't like; it can decrease behavior issues like aggression and reactivity because there is more respect for those giving the boundaries and a clear understanding of rules. 4. It helps provide mental stimulation by having pup work on skills like listening, self-control, the ability to learn new things, and problem solving. Mental stimulation has a lot of benefits, including less pent up energy, less anxiety, release of calming hormones, greater self-regulation, greater satisfaction, less boredom, and greater cognitive function. Often teaching pup just one or two commands that would make communication with pup easier, with permission, and having the other person see the effects of those commands and boundaries, speaks louder than a lecture on it, if the person will agree to a couple of specific commands. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bobby
Crossbred
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Bobby
Crossbred
3 Years

Starting to growl at us all the time when asked to get off settee or putting lead back off after he’s had a run or when he’s done something wrong

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 Dog owners recommended

As a dog owner, you probably get upset when your dog growls. Your first reaction may be to suppress the growling by scolding or punishing the dog. This is never a good idea. By teaching your dog that growling isn't acceptable behavior, you're taking away its ability to warn you that it may bite. You may have heard stories about dogs that bite with no warning. But, in many cases, this is because the owners trained their dogs not to give a warning growl first. The key to getting a dog to stop growling is not to suppress the growls, but rather to deal with the underlying problem. Once the pain, fear, possession aggression, or territoriality has been dealt with, the dog will no longer need to growl. In-Depth Training Territoriality, possession aggression, and fear are serious behavior problems. Depending on the degree of the behavioral problem, the dog may respond well to a training program or may need a much more in-depth behavior modification program. A dog trainer or animal behaviorist can help you evaluate the dog, and determine the best course of action for dealing with these issues. As you work with this type of trainer, be as specific as possible as to what you think triggered the growling. The trainer will likely work with the dog to slowly condition it to accept the trigger and not growl in its presence. Next Steps While you're working to determine the cause of the growling, don't ignore it or it's likely to get worse. Be careful around your dog until you figure out why it's growling. Additionally, you may want to help your dog modify its behavior until the situation is under control. For example, if your dog always growls at the mail carrier, close the window shades and eliminate any sightlines while you work on the problem. If possible, eliminate triggers, avoid stressful situations, and caution others (both dogs and humans) to keep their distance in order to prevent a dog bite. For example, you may not want to introduce your dog to new dogs, bring it to a dog park, or host a loud party until you get help.

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Question
Reggie
Labrador Retriever
21 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Reggie
Labrador Retriever
21 Months

He’s aggressive when we feed him and when he’s in his bed, growling when we go near.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Carl, This is an issue I highly recommend hiring a professional private trainer to help you with in person. Pup will need to be desensitized to wearing a basket muzzle for safety. Their overall respect for you in general will need to be build through doing things like practicing obedience commands, keeping interactions with pup calm and consistent, possibly implementing some new rules around the house like staying off furniture, and having pup work for everything they get by having to perform a command, like Sit first. With safety measures in place like a back tie leash and a fake arm, pup will need to be counter conditioned to people being around while he is eating. This is done very carefully and gradually, tossing treats to pup from further away when they respond well when you walk past, gradually decreasing the distance as pup improves through practice, by feeding pup their meals in portions, and eventually practicing touch with the fake arm, rewarding pup with more food each time they are touched. This procedure has to be done very carefully to avoid making the aggression worse, to keep you safe, and to make progress, so I highly recommend only doing it under a trainer's supervision and guidance. Look for a trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression. Not all trainer work with aggression and have the experience you need so ask questions. Check out their previous client reviews and referrals from those with similar training needs as your also. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Joe Joe
Collie
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Joe Joe
Collie
3 Years

I am volunteering in a local rescue. A number of collies were recently rescued from a farm where they were kept in terrible conditions. The one I am having great difficulty with is Joe Joe, I’m trying my best with him as I want him to get a chance of a good home. I can get him on a lead, but it is very difficult to walk with him as he just constantly circles my legs & jumps up. Even when I leave him off lead in a field he will not go and run around just continues to circle me & jump up. I’m afraid of his his faith if I cannot get him to stop doing this. He is very stressed being in a kennel but is obviously not even able to get adequate exercise when he will not leave me.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Susan, The circling is an obsessive compulsive behavior, likely from stress and being confined in a small space. Some herding breeds will develop circling in those types of conditions. For the jumping, I recommend practicing the Step Toward method below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump For the circling, you will need an interrupter to get pup's attention to "snap" them out of the compulsion, but you will also need to teach an alternative behavior that pup can do instead of circling, and reward the alternative behavior. This will take a lot of practice since it is an obsession and a way pup has learned to manage their stress. Typically an interrupter like a Pet Convincer (no citronella, only unscented air), a remote training collar with low level stimulation or vibration, would be used to interrupt. Pup would then be taught alternative behaviors like fetching a frisbee thrown out ahead of you throughout the walk - to teach forward movement, and a formalized heel with lots of turns and changes in pace to help keep pup engaged. Having pup carry something during the walk can also sometimes help keep pup's brain in the right mindset. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Finally, work on stimulating pup mentally to help pup get their energy out and give their mind a better outlet. Check out the Youtube channel below for some ideas of things you can teach. Simply having a thirty minute training session each day, where pup practices known commands or new commands or tricks, simply to challenge their mind and help them redirect some nervous energy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZzFRKsgVMhGTxffpzgTJlQ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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