Giving personal space to your pet is an important part of being an animal guardian. Both cats and dogs will use personal space to alleviate stress and to feel secure in an unsure environment. Dogs often need a quiet place to ‘reset’ when they are anxious, which is one reason why crate training is vital to their wellbeing. Cats, too, will often find dark and hidden places to go when they are scared or if they are not feeling well. It’s always good to know where these places are in case they are sick, so make sure your cat’s hiding place is always accessible to you in case of an emergency. Make sure your pet has options available for them to go in your home where it can retreat and feel safe.
Giving personal space to puppies and kittens is important in their development and in their relationship to you as their guardian. Giving them space away from you helps them to understand they can play independently, and reduces the risk of separation anxiety as they mature. Teaching children to give space to their pets can reduce injury to both your children and your pets, and teaches your pet boundaries, as well.
Shelter animals also need personal space! Being cooped up in a kennel with minimal human interaction can cause anxiety in both cats and dogs. These animals need personal space in order to remain adoptable. Being adoptable reduces the amount of euthanized animals in the United States. Consider fostering shelter animals or volunteering time to walk shelter dogs. Shelter animals receiving personal space could save their lives.
In the wild, giving an animal personal space will reduce wild animal attacks and allow them to maintain their fear of humans. When people try to make friends with wild animals, it decreases their feral traits and makes the animal more susceptible to being hunted or hurt by unfriendly humans. Befriending wild animals also causes them to be seen as a “nuisance” or as “pests” by homeowners and increases the potential of extermination by city or county wildlife departments.
Overall, allowing animals to have appropriate personal space makes all environments cohabitable and friendly. By increasing awareness of our pets’ behaviors and our relationship to our environment, we can work together to build a safe space in our home and our world for all animals to thrive.