I became involved in the space dogs campaign around Christmas time, a wonderful lady Judi Rudd began this in 2012 after seeing a similar scheme having fantastic results abroad. Judi has a reactive boy called Fergus, all his reactions stem from his personal space being invaded. Fergus is a rescue boy and very loving but Judi, a dog trainer herself, knew that this issue had to be addressed and worked through in a capacity that was comfortable for Fergus. So Judi started spacedogs. It wasn’t just enough to give Fergus space but it gave Judi the essential tools to work Fergus through his fear, and along with good training and wearing a ribbon he is a success story and the ambassador for spacedogs.
Spacedogs works alongside positive training techniques using desensitisation and counter conditioning, sounds technical? Basically you get a dog comfortable with a stimulus that normal causes a reaction and turn it into something better. So if, for example, you have a dog that is dog reactive you use space (distance from other dog) make sure your reactive dog is below threshold (like crossing the threshold of a door, your dog goes from one state to another) and reward all behaviours that are non reactive (staying calm, not barking, lunging, shutting down etc). You can then gradually decrease distances between dogs so long as you remain below-threshold! This is a far kinder and more credible method than flooding, forcing your dog to cope with situations that he/she finds uncomfortable, certainly something spacedogs wouldn’t recommend.
So what is reactive?
This can be a spectrum of things from aggression towards dogs, fear of humans, to being an over excited jumpy dog. Spacedogs isn’t all about just dogs that may bite! And we also need to stress that if your dog has a bite history (it has caused injury to dogs or humans) then you must seek professional help.
Spacedogs can also be used if your dog has just undergone surgery, whether it is neutering or a more serious surgical procedure. You need to take your dog out for mental stimulation and light exercise but they cannot have other dogs wanting to play, you can use a vest to let other owners know. You could have an Arthritic dog or an elderly dog that just requires a little respect.
As a trainer another benefit of spacedogs is during those initial training stages with a puppy, although it is essential to socialise them it also important remember that they need interactions with new things to be positive, some puppies are very nervous about new things. Traffic, children, other dogs, buggies (strollers) etc. Just by popping a vest on lets people know to ask first before crowding the cute puppy.
There are endless benefits of this campaign, what we need is you the public to share why a dog would wear a ribbon or vest and respect that. There has been some criticism made that why should it be another’s problem if our dog has a problem? Well an owner with a reactive dog is not looking for space the size of the UK just a few feet, I don’t think that is a tall ask.
WHERE CAN YOU GET MORE INFORMATION?
For more information please go to www.spacedogs.org.uk or visit the face book page Space Dogs Yellow Ribbon Campaign.
To purchase vests, collar fobs &/or leash fobs then order through www.coats-4-dogs.com.
WHO BENEFITS FROM THIS?
This is what separates spacedogs from other similar campaigns is all profits are distributed amongst dog rescues. This way whenever you purchase something you aren’t only helping your dog but other dogs too! You don’t even have to purchase anything, if you are reading this and think it’s a great idea and you want to help then why not pop in a donation? Spacedogs has already benefitted rescues with your support.
If you are part of a rescue and want to find out how you can apply to benefit then contact Judi via the website.
I am proud to be an official spacedogs trainer, whilst this isn’t a qualification it means that I meet the requirements as a trainer who understands and has experience working with reactive dogs. Spacedogs trainers understand the need for giving these dogs and their owners the right tolls to successfully move forward. So if you need help with issues that you require a vest for why not check out the trainers list and start getting proactive to prevent your dog being reactive.
If you are a trainer reading this and you want to become a spacedogs trainer helping raise the profile of this campaign and also willing to assist with these problems then contact through the website for details. Training members of the pet professional guild will get automatic approval. Trainers will be required to give a small donation too. Once you are approved your details will be on the website and you will be issued with a certificate.
Please get involved, spreading the word, donating or using spacedogs products. We have already had good press coverage from national papers to In The Dog House DTC’s Nando Brown interviewing myself on his radio station and then becoming a spacedogs trainer himself! We can’t stop there though; there are thousands of dogs like Fergus just waiting to be another spacedogs success story. Will your dog be the next one? That’s up to you!
A NOTE FROM FERGUS
Fergus wants to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped him and his human mum get this campaign off the ground. He can now compete in flyball without worrying about the other dogs or handlers. Now he says its time to push to a new level of space!
As always The Power Of Positivity Space Seekers X