Is your dog a little shy or has anxiety? It’s completely normal for some dogs to have anxiety but with a little help, you can teach them that they have no reason to be afraid of their surroundings.
7 Ways To Build Your Dog’s Confidence
How do you build your dog’s confidence? With a little patience, you can help them become confident dogs; unafraid of a walk or new people.
Let’s find out 7 ways to build their confidence.
1. Training Sessions
Small training sessions with a lot of treats will boost their confidence. If you have a little puppy you can have 10-minute training sessions every few hours. With adult dogs, you can have 30-minute training sessions in the evening or at any time in the day.
Positive training sessions will not only teach them things but as they learn what you want them to do and they get treats, they become more confident. Short training sessions are great to strengthen your bond with them and boost their confidence.
When training your dog, concentrate on important commands like sit, stay and look at me. These fundamental commands keep them focused when things get scary.
Now there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Dogs, like any other person, will lack confidence when they don’t know what to expect from their environment.
Exposing them, bit by bit, to things they are afraid of, and making it positive with treats and love is the best way to go.
While some dogs lack confidence because of past experiences, other dogs lack confidence because of overstimulation to different environments. If they see too many things, meet too many people and dogs at once, it can also lead to anxiety.
So, remember when you are trying to expose your dogs to different people and environments, remember to be slow and consistent.
Remember that dogs usually behave timidly when they haven’t been exposed enough or they have been overwhelmed with too many experiences. If you have a scared dog, you need to do little scary things every day to slowly build up and make them less fearful.
Be consistent and respect their pace.
4. Understand Their Body Language
Dogs communicate with their entire body. When they are unsure of a particular situation, they will communicate it by showing hesitation, refusing to take a treat from you, have their tail between their legs and so on.
When your dog is showing all these signs, it means that you should probably take a step back and to a place where they were listening to you last.
5. Celebrate The Small Victories
When you have a fearful dog or a dog that lacks confidence, it is very important to celebrate the small victories. They are not purposely trying to disobey you, it is just that some situations are scary for them and they need time to adjust.
In scary moments like this, when they are looking at you and waiting for their next command, it’s a huge victory. In fact, even an extra step or a tail wag, relaxed eyes etc is a victory. Don’t focus on the finish line but every step along the way is a victory.
6. Don’t Lose Hope
You made tremendous progress the other day and they walked quite close to the tree that scares them so much. But today, they won’t take one step ahead.
Don’t be disheartened, this is completely normal! When it comes to scared dogs some days are better than others but you just have to keep going.
7. Stay Within Their Range Of Vision
This trick has been particularly effective with our dog. If they are too intimidated by what is in front, you can come in front of them, with a treat, to break their fixation and get their attention on you.
It is not easy but it helps redirect their attention to you and perhaps make a U-turn, if they are too anxious.
Lots of encouragement, treats and love is really the best way to build their confidence. While we are on the topic of what you should do to build their confidence, we feel it is also important to discuss what you shouldn’t do as well.
Here’s What Will Make The Anxiety Worse
While the above steps will build their confidence, the below things will make them more anxious.
We talked about this above but if you find yourself forcing your dog to interact with other dogs or people when they are clearly showing signs of not being interested, you are overstimulating them.
As well-intentioned as this is, you are doing more harm than good. Your dog learns two things from these situations – firstly, if they are in a scary situation, they have nowhere to hide, and secondly, they know they can’t count on you during these situations.
They feel completely alone and the next time they come across the scary thing, they will dread it even more.
Fight the urge to push them when they are scared and respect their fears.
2. Physically Hurting Them; Using Prong Collars, Choke Chains Etc
They are scared as it is and on that, we double up with physical pain – choke chains, prong collars or a hard slap etc are harsh correctional measures.
Many interpret fearful behaviour as laziness, disobedience etc, which is complete nonsense! If you feel that the anxiety is out of your control, find a trainer who does not advocate training through physical pain.
Hitting them and showing them dominance when they are scared is like kicking someone when they are in pain. Just like overstimulation, harsh training methods also teach them that they can’t depend on you, come what may.
We hope this article has helped you understand your dog’s fear and anxiety. These steps do take some time, but they work. Does your dog lack confidence? What have you done so far to help them? Let us know in the comments section below.