So many dog owners view when their dog assertively invades their personal space demanding their undivided attention, and even mouthing and biting as cute, or even their dog expressing love for them. Would you accept this type of behaviour from another person? "Of course not, but they are not a dog", I hear you say.
When we allow a dog to assertively invade our personal space, and then reinforce the behaviour with positive interaction, we are, from the dogs instinctive perspective, handing over control of our personal and social space to the dog in that moment. Reinforcing this type of behaviour can be the underlying cause for so many behavioural issues that may raise their ugly head, including in some cases even aggressive behaviour, whether that be towards you, other people, and even other dogs. Reinforcing this type of behaviour can in some cases also even condition a dog to feel insecure around other people, depending on its genetic make-up (I will explain this in another post). We also need to be aware that by reinforcing this type of assertive behaviour, that from the dogs perspective, you may even become a resource the dog will even challenge others to maintain control of. I come across this a lot when I go to homes where 2 dogs in the home are fighting, or the owners dog will not allow other family members or people to approach them.
Unless we teach a young dog impulse control, and boundaries in regards to social interaction, we can end up with a dog that will not accept any form of discipline or boundary setting from us as it matures, and will therefore continually challenge us, creating even more major behavioural issues.
Nature is designed that only one animal (and this includes humans) in any given moment, can control a space or resource. We always need to be aware of a dogs intent before we reinforce a behaviour with any form of positive feedback, whether that be with food, affection, or even play. Don't we do this at an instinctive level with other people? When I am offering a dog any form of affection or positive interaction, its my way of showing the dog my approval of it showing me respect. I never hand out affection or positive interaction if I observe that the dog is not being respectful of me or my personal space, no different if it was another human.
Always be aware of your dogs intent, and only use affection, play, and even food, as a way of indicating to your dog your approval of it being respectful. Too many people hand out positive reinforcements, such as affection or play, not realising the damage they are causing in regards to their relationship with their dog. Also, most dog owners do not understand how the inappropriate interaction they have with their dog influences and teaches antisocial behaviours in regards to other people and even other dogs.
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