One of the biggest reasons why dogs are such great pets is the range of personalities and temperaments they can express. With kooky characters, zany balls of energy, and cool cucumbers, there truly is a dog to perfectly match your own personality and lifestyle.
Timidness in dogs can also be common, particularly rescue pets. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just as shyness isn’t a bad trait in humans. However, when it starts to limit a dog’s experience of the world or cause excessive stress or fear, it is best to start taking steps to increase your favorite canine’s confidence. Below, we’ve listed some of the top tips for encouraging your dog to become more confident.
The best way to boost your dog’s confidence is through tried and tested training techniques. Correct training takes time, so it is important not to expect your dog to be treated overnight. There may be huge leaps forward followed by steps backwards and so on. This is natural.
A frightening trigger event can be all-encompassing and nearly-paralyzing for your dog, just as scary situations can be for people. The best way to overcome this reaction to stimulus is through controlled exposure, desensitization, and hard work.
First, you should teach your dog basic obedience skills which can be put into practice on walks. Be prepared for the worst situations by having treats and/or a favorite toy to use for a distraction. This can lead your dog away from a triggering event and prevent adverse behaviour.
Teach your dog the look-at-me command. This will draw your dog’s attention quickly to you, a familiar and confidence-boosting entity, instead of the negative stimulus. Try to get your dog to sit when you have their attention to ensure they are focused on you. At first, your pet’s attention span may be short, but it is important to reward them for any effort, even for a brief moment of obedience. This will slowly build up to complete obedience and will result in absolute distraction from the potential negative stimulus.
Obedience is great for getting your pet away from the stressful or dangerous situation quickly and efficiently. This isn’t a power move; it’s about comfort and care of your pet. You can supply both with confidence as part of your obedience training.
Avoiding triggering locations is great in the short term, but long term, there will always be places and situations that are unavoidable. Your next step should be to begin exposing your dog to triggering places to work on desensitization. Take this process slowly, gradually increasing the duration of time spent in the location that trigger negative behaviors. Take cues from your dog and go at their pace, encouraging them and rewarding them for their progress. Dogs take their cue from you. So always be calm and confident while desensitizing your pet.
If your pooch is particularly sensitive to a particular trigger, just being in the near vicinity can be enough to spark a reaction. Remember your dog’s sense of smell is far more powerful than yours. For this reason it is recommended that you always start slow, keeping your distance from the trigger. Gradually move closer as your training progresses and your pup becomes calmer. This gives your dog time to acclimatize and start to feel safe in its space before getting closer to the triggering event or entity.
Ultimately, you want your dog to associate this training with positivity. You should praise them consistently with positive encouragement when they do well. Do not become frustrated if they take a step back in their progress or are slow to pick up on a new command. Use toys, verbal praise, and physical affection abundantly to reward your dog. Treats should be used in moderation. Do not overfeed your pup during training, as you ultimately want them to take their behavioral cues from your verbal command.
While you should definitely take things slow at first and move at your dogs pace, it is important to keep adding new places or situations to your dogs repertoire of confidence. This will help ensure your pet remains receptive to change and is constantly improving.
Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital & Emergency is on hand to help with all areas of care from vaccinations to dental care and emergency treatments. Dr. Ron and his team have seen it all and know just how to respond to any veterinary problem. We are friendly and helpful, and if you’re struggling to boost your pet’s confidence, the experts at Dr. Ron’s will be able to give you the best advice, comprehensive support, and top tips that are sure to have your pet confident and carefree! We are perfectly placed for pets living in Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, or Chatsworth communities and also serve Ventura County. Call us today for a consultation!