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Shelley Beyer

Four Simple Tips to Improve Your Dog’s Confidence
January 6, 2022

If you have a shy or anxious dog, you know how hard it can be to take them out in public! How do you help increase your dog’s confidence with new people, other dogs, or inanimate objects? These are proven methods that are safe to try but keep in mind that they are not quick fixes.

Positive Association

If your dog is scared of something, try to help it associate positive things with it instead. For most dogs, this will be easiest with a little treat they like. If your dog gets anxious about other dogs out on a walk, stop walking and give them lots of love and pets and a steady supply of little treats until the other dog leaves. Then stop giving treats and resume the walk. They will start to associate the other dog’s presence with the good feelings of treats and loves instead of their anxiety. Repeat this until your dog no longer shows anxious signs when other dogs come around.

Consider Training New Skills

Learning new skills makes you feel more confident about yourself, and it does the same for your pet! If they haven’t gone through obedience training yet, try that first. It helps build trust between you and your dog and to have better and more direct communication with your pet. Speaking the same language always makes things easier!

If you’ve already done obedience training, consider trying some agility training! Learning to conquer new obstacles like running through a plastic tube or jumping over a pole can help build their confidence. By following your instructions, they will learn to trust you and be more confident to try new things!

Introduce New Situations Carefully

Be gentle when introducing your pet to new people or new situations. Leave treats around a new environment and let them hunt for them. Treats will distract them from being worried about where they are! Remind people meeting your dog for the first time to take it easy and let your dog set the pace for the interaction. Your pet will appreciate it and feel more in control of the situation.

Socialize with other dogs

Dogs are pack animals at heart, so being with other dogs can boost their confidence! The other dog works as a role model to help anxious dogs feel better about trying new things. Make sure your dog interacts with dogs that they feel comfortable being around. For example, if you have a miniature Dachshund, playing with a Great Dane might be counterproductive to helping your dog feel more confident. For best results, aim for a dog with a good personality and around their size.

When To Seek Professional Help

Remember, these tips will take time. Just like with humans, it won’t magically fix itself overnight. But with loving care and patience, you can help put your canine’s mind and heart at ease. Just keep at it, move slowly, and always be respectful of your dog’s boundaries. If your dog’s anxiety, fear, or shyness is severe, you should reach out to professionals!