Proxemics, a thing for reactive dogs?

Reactive dog

Proxemics, a thing for reactive dogs?

We like to keep our distance from others and there are very specific social rules about how close we can go to others in particular situations. This social distance is also known as body space and comfort zone and the use of this space is called proxemics. Proxemic Communication is communicating with others by virtue of the relative positioning of your bodies.

In dictionary, Social Distance refers to the extent to which people experience a sense of familiarity (nearness and intimacy) or unfamiliarity (farness and difference) between themselves and people belonging to different social, ethnic, occupational, and religious groups from their own. Social distance is not a static cognitive attribute of acceptance. People can shift and change their sense of affinity or dissonance with particular groups across different contexts.

In this context of discussion, social distance or threshold of distance are interchangeable. As it in Canine World, social distance refers to the comfort distance between dogs, animals and human. This is even more a concern if you are having a reactive dog.

A leash reactive dog is a dog who "over-reacts" usually by barking, lunging, tugging on the leash, snarling and/or growling etc at other dogs or people (or other stimuli) when the dog is on leash - but may behave very differently and not over-react when off leash.

As a responsible pet owner, the very first time we come to notice and learn is the threshold of distance. It become amplified if you have a reactive dog. In my opinion, owners with reactive dogs are often better owners as you need special skills, attention and ability to live and adapts to the situation.

How do we manage and eventually overcome reactivity? Here are 3 scientific solutions you can use to manage and minimize leash reactivity.

1. Classical Conditioning,

2. Habituatition &

3. Sensitization.

Classical Conditioning - our aim is not to suppress but to manage the situation as in to change of perspective. I.E. if your dog hate to see a cat. What if I tell you everytime you see a cat, good stuff happens... your dog will eventually love the present of cat, because the present of cat produces wonderful stuff.

Habituatition - is wearing out process of the triggers. By seeing it so many times, it will help your dog to regain emotion, control of their state of mind and make acceptable decision.

Sensitization - the triggers elevate your dog emotion to propel your dog to make good decision. I.E. What if I tell you, meet and greet will be transform to a game of fun. Your dog will be sensitive to the triggers and propel to seek such interaction in order to get what he wants.

Dogs with reactivity is not the end of the road. If you seek professional advises and are determine to overcome the reactivity, you are on the Road to Great Recovery. Pet ownership does not mean to give your animals good shether, food and comfort, responsible pet ownership goes beyond that and to ensure our animals have a good quality of life.

Living with reactivity is not living with quality. What are you waiting for? Go seek professional help and start enjoying pet ownership to the fullest.

Have fun and stay positive.

Dexter Sim, Dog Training Instructor

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