How To Boost A Dog’s Confidence
It is easy to see that some dog’s confidence levels are simply low. Unfamiliar noises or people can do a number on your dog’s confidence level. My dog used to disappear under the bed during a thunderstorm but using certain techniques, I’ve been able to convince him that all is well. There are plenty of things that we can do to make them more confident in their daily life. We’ll talk a little about what can shake a dog’s confidence and how we will be able to restore it. It’s never too late to turn your timid dog into a confident animal.
Use Yourself As A Shield For Your Dog
If your dog is becoming timid, there is a strategy that experts have deemed “Get Behind.” Usually, shy dogs will hide when something is questionable and has scared them. You can train your dog to get behind you, using yourself as a shield to calm your dog down. All you need to do is lure your dog to come behind you and sit, usually start by luring it with treats (try some homemade!). Eventually, just the cue of “Get Behind” will be enough for your dog to realize that he has a safe place to wait out whatever it is that has it on edge. Remember, there is nobody your dog should trust more than you.
Toys Almost Always Calm Dogs
We can use toys that our dogs love to trick them into thinking that good things happen when they’re scared. When a big thunderstorm was underway, I would find my dog underneath my bed and lure him out with a toy that became known as the “storm toy.” It didn’t make an appearance until the thunder started but was a great distraction. Eventually, my dog wouldn’t run to the bed during a storm, he would run to the chest that contains his toys and demand to play. It wasn’t easy at first. Once I figured out to shut the bedroom door to avoid him from going to under the bed at all, he was very distant and whined by the door. Once he realized that his toy would be joining us for a play session, everything changed.
Dogs Understand Commands
We all have cue words that we use to get our dogs to act the way we want them to. By using these cue words, it will wrap your dog in a world of familiarity. He will always feel more comfortable when these cues are used. When a dog hears a cue word and performs to the way he knows that it is expected, it’s huge to them. He knows that there is positive reinforcement coming, maybe even a treat! On the other spectrum, the quickest way to shatter a dog’s confidence is verbal or physical punishment. A dog receives a huge high when it is praised and is crushed when it is scolded. I know you’ve seen your dog shove its tail between its legs and run to its “safe place.” While sometimes it may be necessary to be that hard on them, make sure you think of other options before you decide to scream or even spank them. It can be a huge test of patience but it is worth thinking of another way to handle the situation if it means that we won’t destroy our dog’s confidence.
Games Make Dogs Feel Comfortable & Loved
Another beneficial exercise is a version of hide and seek. It’s a game that my dog and I call “Get It”, well I call it that -I don’t know what he calls it. Basically, he sits in front of me and I toss treats or toys in a spot that he may not be expecting. That gets his senses rolling, he hasn’t seen where the gift landed so he’s forced to use his nose and scour the entire room. It seems that he can’t focus on whatever is scaring him and put all that he has into finding his treat.
It can be easy to take our dog’s minds off of fearful situations. By being our normal selves, our dogs can be themselves. The important thing to remember in a stressful situation is to praise our dogs like nothing out of the ordinary is going on around us. By using treats and different tactics, we can have a dog that is comfortable in situations that used to be terrifying. A critical part of any of these exercises is to perform these under non-stressful situations. Your dog will probably not respond to these if you only try them when something has gone array. First, it has to understand the impact of your positive reinforcements. Make sure to give your dog plenty of kind toned compliments in normal circumstances. Your tone of voice will be comforting to it in stressful situations resulting in positive results when it is being stressed. A dog gets its confidence from us as pet owners and it is crucial that we pay attention and do all we can to reinforce it.