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Your precious little puppy is so small you can nearly fit them in your pocket. You almost want them to stay small and cute forever. However, there is one distinct downside puppyhood - the pup doesn’t respect your personal space. Your puppy follows you everywhere - they even want to follow you into the bathroom. While you love that they like being around you, some personal space would be appreciated too. You want to be able to cuddle on the sofa with your partner without your puppy diving in between and getting defensive.
Training your puppy to respect your personal space is actually incredibly important. If you don’t, they may develop separation anxiety. This can make leaving them alone while you go to work extremely difficult and make the pup unhappy. So it’s not just convenient for you, it's in their best interest to create some boundaries.
Training your puppy to respect your personal space won’t always be easy. It will require considerable willpower on your part. You will need to use strict obedience commands to create some clear boundaries. You can also use the dog's crate to enforce personal space. Training will also require taking some steps and measures to ensure your puppy can’t always get instant access to you.
Because your little pal is young they should still be learning the rules and building confidence. This means you could see results in just a couple of weeks. However, if they are particularly needy then you may need up to a couple of months before you see consistent results. Get training right and you’ll help develop a confident dog later down the line. You also won’t have to worry about them becoming overly protective and even aggressive.
Before you start training you’ll need to make sure you have a few bits. A short training leash will be required. You will also need a crate for one of the methods. Stock up on treats or break the pup's favorite food into small pieces.
Set aside 10 minutes each day for training. You can practice in the house and when you are out on walks.
Once you have all the above, just bring patience and a can-do attitude, then work can begin!
The Alone Time Method
Spend a few minutes playing with your pup by the opening of their crate. Play around with toys, treats and get them comfortable around their crate. You’re going to use the crate to get them used to being alone.
Now close your puppy in the crate for 5 minutes. You can stay in the room and play through the crate. You want to make sure they don’t look too scared. You’ll gradually increase the distance and time between you.
Once the 5 minutes is up, let your puppy out and give them a treat. You can also give them some verbal praise and play around for a little while. You want to show them that good things come if they learn to spend some time on their own.
Increase the time
The next day leave the pup in there for10 minutes. The day after that leave them for 5 minutes longer. Keep gradually increasing the time until they are confident and comfortable being on their own.
Increase the distance
It’s also important that you stand farther away from your puppy each time they are in the crate. Eventually, leave the room and leave them completely on their own. You will soon find that your puppy is comfortable being on their own and respects your personal space when they’re let out of the crate.
The Cold Shoulder Method
As soon as your puppy comes over, invades your personal space, and begs for attention, turn around and ignore them. It is important the pup learns they cannot just pester you and that it isn’t an effective way to get what they want.
Meet their needs
Make sure your puppy has all the food, water and exercise they need. You should also take them out regularly to go to the toilet. This will stop them invading your personal space to let you know something is wrong.
Leave toys and food puzzles out for the pup to play with. This will keep them occupied and away from you for hours at a time. As a result, they will learn they don’t always need to be in your personal space pestering you.
Take your puppy to group obedience classes. This will help teach them a range of basic commands, which will increase your control and their discipline. They will also learn from seeing other dogs where the boundaries are.
Don’t use punishment
It’s important you do not punish the dog. This type of training will only scare them and make them even more keen to get close to you to win back your affection. So stick to positive reinforcement.
The Reaction Method
Move towards the pup
Whenever your puppy moves into your personal space, move straight back into theirs. Do this every time and you are showing them that getting too close can be uncomfortable.
When you can see the pup is about to jump up towards you but then hesitates, give them a tasty reward or play with a toy for a minute. It’s important to show them that they will be rewarded for showing self control.
Whenever your puppy invades your personal space, send them to their bed. Point towards their bed and issue the command, 'bed' in a clear voice. It may take them a little while, but eventually they will catch on. It helps if the bed is close by to start with.
Once the pup does go to their bed, head over and give a reward. Then simply use this instruction every time they don’t respect your personal space. Use this each time and you will get them into a habit of thinking twice before getting too close and they will learn to respect your boundaries.
It can also help to take the puppy to the park or places where you know there will be other dogs. Then simply walk through them and they will move out of the way. Your puppy will learn from watching them that there are boundaries they need to respect.
By James Barra
Published: 04/10/2018, edited: 01/08/2021