It’s easy to tell if and when a dog doesn’t have a high confidence. A dog with a low confidence needs some confidence boosters to get more comfortable with the world. Here are some tips to help gain your dogs confidence:
Many people recommend training to help build a dog’s confidence and it’s no branier why: training helps us communicate with our dogs and it often provides challenges that a dog may or may not feel comfortable doing.
I’ve heard of place building a dog’s confidence and it’s definitely helped mine. Scooter (my very sensitive boy) refused to put his paws on anything elevated and of different texture even if it was raised half an inch off the ground. Now, I can get him to place his feet on a platform (depending on the platform) 2 feet tall.
2.) Counter Conditioning & Desensitization
Desensitizing means: the process of exposing an animal to a stimulus at very low intensity while counter conditioning means: training an animal to display a behavior that is different than his/her current reaction to a stimulus. A dog that is scared of dogs or people will need to be slowly exposed to them but in very controlled settings. And dogs that are scared of things SHOULD NOT be put on a prong collar as this can make their reactions toward them worse.
3.) Go slow
Building a dogs confidence doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and patience. Remember to go at your dogs pace and reward your dog for being calm and don’t forget to keep it light-hearted. Try not to punish your dog as they may connect the punishment to the scary thing.
It seems as though giving choices to dogs are underrated to many people. To me, it’s one of the best ways to build a dog’s confidence. Us humans control much of our dogs lives from where and when they sleep to what foods they eat but dogs are much like us: when everything is controlled in our lives, it makes us miserable. Why wouldn’t it not be the same for our dogs? Giving choices helps a dog feel safe that it can have the decision to do what it likes (within reason, of course). Whenever I’m walking the dogs and I have nothing urgent going on, I give Scooter the choice of either going down to the lake (which he usually chooses) or continuing on with our walk or travelling on the main road instead of walking around the park if he wishes.
Agility can help a low confident dog gain confidence but don’t force it upon them to do it if they don’t enjoy it.
Remember a low confident dog is an insecure dog. Don’t punish them if they growl or show other signs of scardness as it can lead dogs to go straight to a bite. What are your thoughts? Do any of you have a low confident dog? What did you find to be the most helpful?