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

Effective
0 Votes
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

Effective
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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

Effective
0 Votes
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
Bella
Australian Shepherd
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bella
Australian Shepherd
4 Years

Bella does not respect personal space, barks at nothing, and keeps dragging dirt and mulch on the bed. Are these habits that can be fixed?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
263 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sana, Teach Bella an 'Out' command (which means leave the area) and a 'Place' command (which means go to a designate spot like a dog bed or towel) and work up to having her stay on 'Place' for an hour, even when there are distractions like guests around. This will take time and practice to teach, but more structure and consistency with her should help the personal space issues. She will likely always want to be by your side because of her personality and breed (Australian Shepherd can be Velco dogs and they can be pushy) but you can teach her those commands and tell her when she should leave or lay down and play by herself. If she starts being pushy and nudging you, barking at you, climbing into your lap uninvited, or inserting herself in other physically ways without being given permission, then use the 'Out' command to make her leave the area -- it is a natural consequence for being rude toward you and demanding your attention -- she looses all attention right then. 1. To teach her an 'Out' command, first call her over to you, then toss a treat several feet away from yourself while pointing to the area where you are tossing the treat with the finger of your treat tossing hand and saying 'Out' at the same time. 2. Repeat this until she will go over to the area where you point when you say 'Out' before you have tossed a treat. 3. When she will do that, then whenever you tell her "Out" and she does not go to where you are pointing, walk toward her and herd her out of the area with your body. Your attitude should be calm and patient but very firm and business-like when you do this. 4. When you get to where you were pointing to, then stop and wait until she either goes away or stops trying to go back to the area where you were standing before. 5. When she is no longer trying to get past you, then slowly walk backwards to where you were before. If she follows you, then tell her "Out" again and quickly walk toward her until she is back to where she was a moment ago. 6. Repeat this until she will stay several feet away from where you were when you told her 'Out' originally. 7. When you are ready for her to come back, then tell her 'OK' in an up beat tone of voice. 8. Practice this training until she will consistently leave the area when you tell her 'Out'. 9. When she will consistently leave, then practice the training with other areas that you would like for her to leave, such as the kitchen when you are preparing food, a person's space when she is being pushy, an area with a plant that she is trying to dig up, or somewhere with something in your home that she should not be bothering. Check out this video for how to teach 'Place': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo The mulch I would need a bit more information about. Does she have a dog door where she has access from the backyard to the bed all the time? I would need more details to touch on that one, but it likely can be changed if you are willing to adjust some of her routine or access to the mulch to break that habit. The barking can likely be addressed, but that is also hard to say without being there to determine why she is barking. Some dogs barks out of boredom, some bark to get attention, some bark because their ears are more sensitive than ours and they hear things that we can't, other dogs will bark because of paranoia...You can teach a dog the 'Quiet' command and you can enforce that command with rewards for being quiet and something like a bark collar to interrupt the barking when she disobeys, but you will also need to figure out why she is barking if you can -- because there might be an underlying reason that needs to be addressed too, like a high pitched noise, boredom, attention seeking, or a mental paranoia issue. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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