What do dog behavior problems and your personal space have in common? They have a lot more in common than you could ever imagine.

Dogs, just like us humans, are very sensitive about their “personal space.” Don’t think you’re sensitive to your personal space? Try standing too close to someone in an elevator when the two of you are the only ones on the elevator. That’s a great test to prove space sensitivity.

Take for example the phrases: “He lets her walk all over him” or “He’s a pushy guy.” These phrases and many more suggest that the power of space in our world is not that different from our dogs.

In the dog world there are two positions: Leaders and Followers.

Leaders occupy the space in front and followers, follow behind in their space. Dogs that hold firm on their space have more authority than the dog that gives up their space when another dog encroaches.

How your dog evaluates your ability to control your resources and space can often times, especially in leader type dog personalities, determine whether or not he will listen to you at critical times- or not – when you need control of your dog.

Consider the following understood “Law of the Dog”, as he evaluates you:

If your dog can infringe into your personal space and take something of value like a dog toy you are holding, get on your lap or put his face in your pizza on the coffee table, then your dog’s interpretation is that you cannot control your resources (dog toy, your pizza, your lap space and your love and affection.)

The resulting complication of this perception of you, is that any other work, like trying to fix a barking problem or lunging at the door problem, you may try to fix with your dog could now be infinitely more difficult.”

“Law of Dog” is simple. If a resource (your toy, your pizza, your lap) is controlled by you, it is owned by you. And this “Law of Dog” is very important in your dog’s world regarding the foundation of how he determines his relationship with you.

If you are consistently firm with the message of who is the leader – especially with everything your dog places value on; food, space, toys, love and affection, walks and much more, you can gain his respect and his attention.

So, how do you put this into good practical use at home? I’ll answer that question tomorrow. Until then, remember “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2010