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5 Ways To Build Confidence In Shy Dogs

Written by: Scott H
Scott Haiduc is the Director of Publishing for iHeartDogs, iHeartCats and The Hero Company. When not working, Scott spends his time on the farm, taking care of his animals and crops.Read more
| Published on April 28, 2015

While many dogs seem to be oblivious to anything dangerous outside in the world, others are more nervous in nature and need a little confidence building to ensure them that nothing bad is going to happen. These dogs may have lacked proper socialization as young puppies, but more often than not it’s just their genetics. Just as some people are shy and insecure, some dogs and puppies are too. So if you’re struggling with a shy pup that’s reluctant to get out and experience the world, check out these tips.

#1 – Walk – A Lot


Taking your dog on a walk is seriously underrated. One of the most important things to do with young puppies and adult dogs that are shy is to take them on walks. The more your dog gets out in the world, the more things they’re going to see and the less scary they become. Going on regular walks in a variety of different places exposes your pup to new things constantly. Make sure you don’t baby your dog when they become scared, simply just keep walking and act like nothing is going on to be worried about. The more confident and comfortable you act, the more secure your dog will feel. Make sure to start slow, walk your neighborhood during the day at first and then move on to larger places such as shopping centers and pet stores. Remember, too, that walking at night will be different than walking during the day, so you should do both at the same slow progression.

#2 – Take An Obedience Class


Not only does your shy dog or puppy need obedience just like any other dog, training can actually help bring up their confidence levels. Using positive reinforcement to teach behaviors and rewarding with your pup’s favorite treats and toys is an excellent way to get them to love training. It works their minds and allows them to feel like they’ve really won a tough puzzle, which greatly builds confidence and allows you to build your bond. 

#3 – Play, Play, Play


Playing with a shy dog or a young puppy is another thing that’s underrated. Of course everyone wants to play with their dogs, but playing games like tug and letting your dog win will build a lot of confidence and allow your dog to enjoy the time they spend outside. Letting your dog win is important in making them feel confident and won’t in any way make them think any less of you. These games are highly bonding and an excellent idea for dogs that need a little confidence boost. 

#4 – Take An Agility Class


Many owners feel that taking their dogs and puppies to an agility class or two builds their confidence better than anything else they do. Even if you don’t want to compete in agility, it’s a fun, positive sport that allows your dog to figure out obstacles and get rewarded with their favorite toys and treats. Being able to build confidence around these obstacles makes them feel accomplished and this bleeds into other areas of their lives. Pretty soon you’ll have a confident pooch that has no problem jumping or climbing on any random object you present them. 

#5 – Be Patient


Patience is the key in working with shy dogs and puppies. We often want to flood our dogs with too much at once, which always makes the problem far worse than it was before. Taking an overly shy dog to a local pet supply store is going to be way too much exposure and they’ll end up far more traumatized than confident. It’s also important to slowly work up to greeting people and overcoming fears of random objects. The more you try and get a bunch of random people to feed your dog all the time, the more suspicious they’ll become of this strange behavior and you’ll end up with a more fearful dog in the long-run. Remember not to get discouraged at the slow process, because this will also discourage your dog. 


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