Canines are loyal companions, but sometimes your four-legged friend’s affection can lead them to to creep into your space. To understand whether this is truly a sign of his affection, or if your pet is challenging you as pack leader and showing disrespect, it’s important to look at the context of your dog’s spot-stealing behavior.
But first, why is respect between an owner and a pet important?
It’s super important that your pet respects you. After all, if you don’t have your pet’s respect, you could run into serious problems. For example, your loveable friend could ignore your commands and run off into busy roads or over steep hills, go to the toilet inside or even knock over precious ornaments.
Is your dog taking your place when you have left or trying to nudge you out of it?
Many dog owners only have to leave the couch for a minute before they come back to find Fido in their spot. But it’s not just the couch that pooches are drawn to…
It was recently revealed that around 62% of dog and cat owners in America keep their animals in the house at night, and of those pets, about half the cats and one-third of the dogs share their owner’s bed with them at night(!), according to survey results conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.
It doesn’t matter whether it is the couch or your bed that your pet is stealing, what matters is whether they take your spot while you are gone, or whether they actively try to nudge you out of it, and the context of their space-stealing tendencies.
Is spot-stealing affectionate or disrespectful?
To get to the root of what your pet is trying to tell you by taking your spot, you need to examine the situation in which they’re trying to take your spot.
Unfortunately there isn’t just one reason dogs steal their owners’ spots. Canines are pack animals by nature and enjoy sleeping in warm piles with their peers. Your dog may simply be trying to get closer when he moves into your space or gives you a nudge, rather than trying to displace you from your spot.
Likewise, pets that take the warm spot on the couch when you get up for a drink, but move quickly when you return, are displaying their affection and respect for you. While there are plenty of positive motives for him to steal your spot, however, your dog has just as many negative reasons for this behavior.
As pack animals, dogs follow a clear hierarchy with their peers. When your pet attempts to steal you spot and is reluctant to back down from it, he may be trying to challenge your position as pack leader. Watch for rough behaviors or even growling as a sign your pet is attempting to assert his dominance over you when he enters your space. Understanding these nuances is key to unraveling your relationship with your pet and, if he’s trying to assert his dominance, it’s important to re-establish yourself as alpha in the pack.
How to re-establish yourself as the boss
Trying teaching your dog the “move” command and use this immediately next time he tries to steal your space. You can use dog treats to reward Fido when he obeys you.
Similarly, if your dog races to beat you to the door, they’re displaying a similar type of disrespect. This can also be extremely dangerous, especially if they’re a young puppy or if you live on a main road, so it’s imperative that you teach your dog to wait patiently behind you. Always make sure that you eat your food before feeding your dog too – as it’s really important to let them know who’s in charge.
Another way of ensuring your pet doesn’t take you spot is by providing them with their own, comfortable spot outfitted with soft blankets, treats, toys and other things that make your dog’s designated area more appealing than your own. Even if your pet just wants to cuddle, be sure to reinforce positive behaviors, such as teaching them to wait for you to sit down before approaching for affection. If you let your dog share your couch or bed, be sure to establish their own, designated spot on it to avoid letting them take over. With a little time and patience, you can train your pet to go to his unique area, teaching them to respect your space and strengthening your pet-owner relationship.
Here, PetBucket, the online retailer of tick and flea treatment for dogs and cats, explains more…