How to Build Confidence in a Dog?- Dogs are famous for being human’s best friends. They are affectionate, friendly, loyal, and curious about new places, people, and things.
But these fun-loving creatures, like any other animal, need a push sometimes. Many factors come into play to create the mental space of your mental dog, whether good or bad. But through just a few steps, you can learn how to build confidence in a dog.
You ought to take out time for your dog’s training. Show your physical affection so that they can get emotional support. Make proper routines where you pick out their triggers and expose them more to unfavorable situations. Ensure to reward your dog abundantly.
Low confidence in dogs is not rare. It could be an issue in any dog, especially if they have gone through adverse conditions.
Noticing their reactions to certain things and working patiently can significantly change your dog, improving their quality of life too.
Which is the Perfect Age to Build Confidence in Dogs?
Confidence building starts right from the time they are puppies. A dog’s existence is defined by the establishing stage, which lasts from 6 to 20 weeks and is when habits and personality traits are formed.
A puppy may learn to deal with unfamiliar circumstances with courage and become adaptable with your assistance. Building self-assurance teaches pups that novel circumstances shouldn’t be dreaded but instead can result in good things.
When Does Your Dog Need Help in Confidence-Building?
You might need to be on the lookout for signs indicating that your dog needs special attention to boost its self-esteem. This can include unusual and unexpected reactions from them like barking, growling, not eating or playing, cowering and whining, etc.
These reactions could also be constantly the same when they should have gotten used to the situation. For example, if your dog is of a smaller size and comes across a larger one, they might get scared at first, but this is supposed to improve eventually.
They would not immediately befriend the big dog but would try to interact with them somehow.
Not being confident should not be taken lightly. It could build up to a severe problem that might end up affecting your dog physically. Like how anxiety and stress get us nauseous and tired and give us weaker limbs.
There could be several reasons why your dog is behaving this way. Depending on when and from where you have gotten your dog, the first few weeks as a puppy affect the mental state of the canines in the long run.
It could be a rescue dog or someone with an abusive owner. Upbringing decides how dogs react to social situations, much like human beings. But this can be changed if you bring a few changes in how you treat your dog and the kind of environment you provide them at home and outside.
How to Build Confidence in a Dog?
Here are some ways you can adopt, depending on your dog’s condition, to improve their confidence level.
Pick Out the Triggers of Your Dog
When starting with a new dog, it is important to notice even the smallest of their habits and body language towards things they are not used to or familiar with.
Pay full attention to your dog when they are in the trying-out stage of things and determine if they like it or not.
Ignoring their actions/reactions might result in an even profoundly ingrained fear, making it more difficult to pull out of your dog. When you notice the triggers, start by stopping the exposure of your dogs to these triggers.
Later, we will learn more about what to do with these triggers.
Prioritize their Training Sessions
Training can help you help your dog build confidence in many ways. It might not be directly related to or directed at making your dog more confident in themself, but it will gear them up for situations that are not their favorite.
Training with your dog will bring you closer and create a more solid relationship between you. This will level up your position in your dog’s life, making you a pillar they can rely on to support them whenever.
They will also gain many skills through the training. This way, you can gain more control over their actions, and they can then know how to react in unfavorable situations instead of feeling helpless.
This will also help them become accustomed to new places more efficiently and improve their communication skills.
More Exposure to Unfavorable Situations
You might feel unsure about this, but a bird must fly out of the nest to prepare for the world and explore it.
Using methods that can desensitize your dogs to the things they are scared of works effectively if done correctly and carefully.
For this, you will need to include the thing, place, or people in your daily routine. Start slow and gradually increase the dosage of the exposure.
For example, if your dog is not the biggest fan of meeting new people, you should try exposing them to more minor interactions with someone who can visit them daily.
You can even ask the person to feed the dog some treats or play with their favorite toy. That has got to improve the relationship between the stranger and your dog.
Dogs are most sensitive to noise and proximity. Start with wider distances and quieter situations. If your dog is unable to socialize with other dogs, first introduce them to friendlier and less intimidating dogs.
Don’t expect them to become besties already. Let them move around in each other’s space and judge each other through smell, noise, or touch.
They will know when to get closer and get to the point that they can easily play with each other. They will eventually get the hang of it and might even learn something from the other dog.
Create a Proper Daily Routine
Like humans, a proper daily routine can help your canine friends in many ways. A timetable with fixed periods for meals, play, naps, walking, etc., will reduce any stress or unfamiliarity they might feel on a daily basis.
A routine will also keep them mentally healthy. They will know what to expect from their day and when.
You might want to shake up things a little from time to time, so they are not too fixed on the routine. Adding a small surprise element here and there will prepare your dog for an adventurous but planned-out day.
Extra Tips to Keep in Mind While Building Confidence in Dogs
While you are on your confidence-building journey, you should include these tips in your routine to enhance the results of your efforts.
Reward Your Dog Generously.
Especially when they have engaged with their fears, they should start associating the scary things with food treats which are always their favorite. This is called counter-conditioning, and it is an effective method that can thoroughly remove that particular fear from your dog.
For example, if your dog hates going to the park, when you make them visit, treat them with food all along the way and offer them their favorite toys to play with.
Make Notes about the Training
It is not guaranteed that whatever you have tried will work out. Your dog’s case could be unique and might need an expert’s view on it.
If you keep a proper log of what works, what does not, what triggers the dog, and what helps, it will be much easier for them to understand your dog’s situation.
Get More Physically Affectionate with Your Dog
Dogs crave love and attention wherever they go. If you don’t fulfill these needs, they might feel neglected and more scared than they already are. Cuddle with them, give them back rubs, and be affectionate in general. You can also try using verbal praise repeatedly for reassurance.
Regularly Play Games with Your Dog
This will keep them physically and mentally active as most games take a lot of thinking skills, and it helps train your dog to think fast and strategically.
Play games like puzzles, treasure hunts, or games that require physical strength like racing and running on a path with obstacles.
Find a Friend for Your Dog.
You might think you are enough for your dog, but they need more interaction with their kind to figure things out better. If possible, find another furry friend for your furry friend. Socializing will open up your dog more, especially if they are shy.
Let your dog work at their own pace. Replace your point of view with your dog’s, and you will start empathizing more with your pet.
Don’t push things onto them if they don’t like them. It might overwhelm them and bring you back to square one or even further back.
If it is your first time parenting a dog, it might seem a bit difficult when you are in the stage of learning and do not know your dog that well.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help, may it be from your vet or another dog parent, or just googling up how to build confidence in dogs.