In light of all that it going on in our world, our dogs are the ones that will continue to benefit from social distancing.  

Social Distancing is Nothing New

For many, learning the term “social distancing” is new.  However, the concept is actually not. The first known use started in 2003 when it was used relative to catching the flu.  Social distancing is defined as “the practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical distance from other people or of avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public places.”  

It Can Greatly Reduce Stress in Dogs and Owners

If we practiced this concept on a regular basis, many dogs and owners’ stress levels could be greatly reduced, hands down.  To delve deeper, if owners provided their dogs the proper physical distance away from other dogs or people (or ANY distraction), many dogs would be pulling on their leash less, and barking and whining less, resulting in more joyful walks!  However, this “proper distance” is different for every dog, and can fluctuate depending on the situation.  Furthermore, maintaining proper physical distance for the duration of a 20 minute walk is often challenging in urban environments.  

Learn What “Proper” Distancing is for Your Dog

Your dog is at their proper physical distance away from another dog if your dog is able to self-regulate their energy or enthusiasm and remain calm.  It may look like this:

  • Your dog may stop walking.
  • Your dog notices and looks at another dog for a brief moment, then looks away.
  • They may even look at another dog, then look back at you, or sniff the ground.
  • If your dog is on leash, the leash remains slack, with a smile in it.
  • If given the full length of the leash, your dog may briefly walk toward another dog, but in a circular motion or an arc.
  • If you don’t want to stop for a greeting, your dog easily responds to their name and can continue walking.

Use This Time to Make Walks More Enjoyable

These days with our dogs is actually a great gift.  We are not rushed by the constraints of time and can shift our agenda to help our dogs in a multitude of ways.  On your next walk, set out to determine what your dog’s proper physical distance is away from distractions and reward your dog.  Treats are a great thought!  Catching dogs doing something right will increase the likelihood of it happening more often.  Now that everyone is familiar with the concept of social distancing, and practicing it themselves, dogs are less likely to rush up on you for an unwanted greeting.  People are more likely to HELP you teach your dog calm behavior.  If your dog starts to get too excited, move further away from the new person until your dog calms down on their own.  When it comes to dog training, physical distancing will always be a “go to” idea.