How To Build Confidence in a Dog has been the topic of deliberation for some dog owners. This is because many dog owners despise the idea of having a shy dog or a dog that does not rise to the occasion when needed. Some dog owners who have hesitant dogs are continuously looking for dog confidence-building games or any other method that can assist their fluffy pets to gain confidence.
Anxiety, shyness, discomfort, and dread in dogs can manifest in a variety of ways. Some react by lunging and barking at whatever frightens them, while others crouch in dread and remain immobile until it passes. Others display more subtly unsettling habits. If you learn to read your dog’s body language, you will be able to recognize when he is sad.
Is your dog afraid of new people? Do they become concerned in unfamiliar situations? If so, there’s a strong chance that some of the activities we’ll discuss in this article will help your dog gain confidence.
How To Build Confidence in a Fearful dog
Identify the Possible triggers of fear
The first step in assisting your dog in gaining confidence is to take an inventory of what exactly your dog is afraid of. Fearful dogs each have their own set of fear triggers, and no two dogs are alike in this regard.
Some dogs appear to collapse spontaneously when they see a small number or a specific group of people. A dog may occasionally be afraid of the wind, excess light, flying objects, stairs or slick surfaces, but at other times they may perceive the entire world as a haunted house.
Finding out what worries your dog is the first step in helping it gain confidence.
Understand and deploy body language
Our dogs use body language to express how they feel, and by understanding what your dog is saying, particularly when anxious, you will be able to help diffuse the problem before it worsens.
Unfortunately, many people misinterpret what a dog is trying to communicate, such as believing that a tail wag indicates happiness. Furthermore, pet parents frequently miss some of the more subtle stress or fear signals, such as little changes in eye and mouth movements.
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Touch will help your dog feel a lot more at ease in stressful situations. When dogs are in an uncomfortable position, it may be difficult for them to concentrate. “Touch” which is also referred to as targeting is one of those simple behaviours you can teach and has very practical, everyday applications while appearing to be a game. Touch refers to simply teaching your dog to press a body part—typically a nose or paw—against anything, such as your hand. The “touch” game or exercise is an excellent way to help your dog regain concentration and feel proud in any situation.
To teach your dog how to do it, simply show him your open hand. When he comes over to sniff it, label the action with a phrase like “yes!” and reinforce it with a treat. When your dog repeatedly touches your palm, you can “name” the behavior by saying “touch.”
After that, show your palm and request the desired behavior.
Finally, to begin generalizing the habit, practice it in non-stressful situations. Using this simple technique with something frightening, you can gradually change your dog’s emotional response to the stressor.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement may help dogs cope in frightening situations. When a dog reacts bravely to potentially frightening situations, its bravery is rewarded via the counter-conditioning process. Positive reinforcement training’s cornerstones, praise and treats, aid in linking a favorable response to a threatening situation.
Improving Confidence In Dogs
There are quite a number of things you can do to improve your dog’s confidence after building some. They include;
Between the ages of 3-14 weeks, you should socialize your puppy with different dogs, people, and circumstances. A shy dog may lack confidence as it develops if it is not properly socialized. That socializing period is crucial to their growth, but dog training may also assist your dog in learning new abilities.
Practising simple commands such as “sit” or “stay” in stressful situations or places diverts your dog’s attention away from the terrifying stimuli and focuses it on you. Teach your dog basic obedience through persistent training or professional dog training lessons.
Another way to enhance your dog’s confidence is to continually expose it to the stimuli it finds frightening in order to desensitize it to their influence. Begin desensitization training sessions gradually by keeping your dog a safe distance away from the upsetting location or circumstance. Gradually increase the time of the exposure while keeping an eye out for symptoms of fear or distress in the dog’s body language.
Building Confidence in Extremely Terrified Dogs
Free Shaping is the primary way of helping extremely terrified dogs. When a dog is truly “shut down” and appears to do nothing but tremble, it can feel hopeless. These dogs will benefit the most from the services of a dog behavior consultant and/or a veterinarian.
Meanwhile, one of the only ways to help these extremely anxious dogs open up is through free shaping.
How To carryout Dog Free Shaping
In cases where your canine is completely shut out, follow the free-shaping steps below;
Put your dog in her most comfortable place, even if it’s a closet or a crate. Kneel next to her, with your side to her. If she isn’t completely at ease with your presence, give her as much space as you can.
Prepare some tasty treats, such as shredded cooked chicken breast. Click with a pen (put it in your pocket if that sound makes her flinch). Because it eliminates unnecessary information, clicker training is ideal for fearful dogs (your voice).
Simply use a quiet clicker to “mark” the exact moment your dog does something you enjoy (in this case, literally anything). The click signals to your dog that a treat is on its way.
Click and gently toss a treat to your dog if she does anything – rolls her eyes towards you, raises an eyebrow, shifts, sighs, lifts her head, re-tucks a foot. To avoid startling her, use a backhanded flick rather than an overhanded lob.
Continue clicking and treating for any movement. Keep sessions short and try to maintain a high rate of reinforcement.
Using Ancillary Support (Canine Relaxation Aid)
Giving your dog ancillary support when needed is another way of reducing stress. Aside from behavior medication, consider the following supportive measures for your dog:
N/B: CONSULT YOUR VET BEFORE ADMINISTERING ANY OF THESE
- Zylkene is a well-known supplement for calming nervous dogs. It is made from milk proteins and is one of the most well-researched options on this list. It’s supposed to “aid in the promotion of a sense of calm.”
- Melatonin treats can also help a dog relax. These chewable tablets help reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels.
- Composure treats contain L-theanine and thiamine, which help to calm your dog for up to 4 hours after eating the treat. They’re fantastic for helping dogs with mild separation anxiety get through the day.
- Thundershirts help dogs relax by gently pressing against their bodies. A Thundershirt helped lower heart rates and reduce calming signal displays in a 2014 study on dogs with diagnosed anxiety disorders, but it did not improve overall behavioral outcomes.
- Calming Caps are headbands that reduce your dog’s visibility and can help dogs cope with stressful situations by limiting their exposure to frightening visual stimuli. It’s frequently used to help dogs who are afraid of the vet relax.
Choose a Suitable Name For Your Dog
We have a rich list of dog names to choose from for your favourite pet. Browse through our list to find the perfect name for your dog. Pick any letter to see dog names starting from that letter.