I knew that we'd need space.
Space - the unlimited or incalculably great three-dimensional realm or expanse in which all material objects are located and all events occur.
Elsa needs space when she is confronted with dogs that she does already know. This has evolved being attacked. The attack on her was from a dog on leash and caught her completely off guard. So...understandably she does not trust dogs that she does not know. Dogs can need space just as much as we do.
The other day I was at HomeGoods doing some shopping when I noticed a guy looking at me about six feet away. I didn't look at him but just took note. Then he got closer and asked "do people you for an actress?" Making small talk I told him that I'd been told that I look like...a certain actress but couldn't remember her name. He then told me that he would remember the actresses name and let me know. Before moving off he had some other things to say to me that made me uncomfortable. Hmmmmmm...time for space.
The actresses name is Lea Thompson, by the way.
As I meandered around the store I realized that he was following me around so I picked up what I needed and made a quick exit. I needed a great deal more space. The level of threat that we and/or our dogs feel factors in how much space that is needed.
As Elsa and I walked down the path; the dog coming towards us was a shepherd mix. He was very large, had a dark face, erect ears and a tail that was held very high. None of these things bode well for close proximity with Elsa. I remained completely calm as I always do to let her know that nothing will happen as I plotted my course for space.
If I had nowhere to go I would simply put her on my safe outside. She would snort which is what she does when she is stressed and we would keep going. Unfortunately not everyone keeps their dog under control; often letting them lunge out at us. I hate when people are so clueless about this very unwanted behavior, but it happens a lot.
Elsa took things into her own paws. She knows that space is what she needed so she took it. With a creek on one side and a hill on the other; she moved methodically albeit calmly up the hill. Often being on the outside of me is enough for her as we pass unknown dogs but this guy made her a bit nervous with all his body up and alert. I smiled as we made our way three feet up the hill and she glanced over her shoulder as he went by. I'm usually in charge of the space but she was ahead of me on this day. She took what she needed. She's crazy smart.
Elsa use to snort every time we passed another dog shortly after the attack. Since she has learned that we will give her comfort room, space to feel safe. I have even had to step in a couple of times and physically stop a loose dog from getting to Elsa. It's my job and I take it very seriously. If Elsa has no faith in my ability to protect her; she will then feel the need to protect herself. As the one who is there to make sure that nothing happens to her; she can then let her guard down knowing that I've got her back.
Space is often all that is needed to feel safe. Space gives one a chance to think, time to ponder and react. I don't like surprises myself; being caught off guard is a really bad feeling. It typically sends adrenaline lose in your body because you didn't have time to respond accordingly. This is one reason that I prefer to be able to see what is out ahead of us on our walks. A heads up gives us the ability to react calmly and appropriately instead of an adrenaline induced response.