We all need “me Time” Every Now & Then, Even Our Pups
Learning to read your dog’s body language & understand when they need “me time” is essential to keeping your doggo happy. Here’s how to do it.
Respecting your doggo’s space applies on the street (with strangers or other dogs who are eager to meet your pup) and at home (when things get too crazy!). Just like us, when the world around them gets too much, our pups crave a little “me time”. In addition, just like us (we don’t always want to make polite conversation with strangers at the grocery store), our pups sometimes want to enjoy their walks and sniffs without stranger interactions. So how can we tell when our pups just want to be alone? They tell us through their body language; they also send signals to other dogs that they just want to be alone, but not all dogs listen! This is where you can step in to help!
When you are on a walk, and another person or dog eagerly approaches, be sure to watch for your dog’s reaction. If they are pulling towards the other person or dog in a wiggly happy manner (think wiggle butts) or if they launch into a play bow pose, then chances are, your pup wants the interaction. If, however, they turn away, go in the opposite direction, hide behind your legs, sniff something intently or even sit down to scratch themselves (in dogspeak this is called “deflecting behavior”), they are sending the words that they don’t want to be disturbed. If the other person or dog ignores these signals, then you must step in. The easiest way (and your dog will understand and thank you!) is to place your body in between your dog (think shielding them) and the approachers and say something like “Hi there! My pup is a little shy. Maybe next time they’ll be up for a hello! Thank you!” Also remember this: your pup is not public property. You have every right to stop anyone from touching your furry friend. Don’t worry if the other person is offended. You do what is best for your doggo.
While at home, a good rule of thumb is to create a “zen” space for your doggo. This could be their crate, a bed in the corner or a gated off area where your dog can go to get some space. It could even be under the dining table. The point is that this space is where your dog feels safe and secure, and we want to encourage that for them. Your dog will let you know they need to go to the safe space by going away from you and to the quiet place. Let them enjoy this alone time (and you can enjoy it too!). If we don’t respect their need for alone time, they may find other, unwanted ways to get away, like growling or snapping.
Note about growling or snapping: if this happens, respect the growl and walk away from your pup. We want to respect the growl because this is their warning sign (and a good one!) to you to back off. If we try and silence the growl, your dog may skip it next time and go directly to biting.