7 Steps to a More Confident Dog

Confidence building works the same way for all living animals, including ourselves and our dogs. If we take small steps and succeed, we will learn to take bigger steps and expect to succeed.


Encourage Optimism

A dog who is encouraged to become optimistic about their expectations of the world will naturally be more confident and cope better within it, thus be empowered. Ask yourself now for a moment, what does your dog expect when they try something new?

Do they actually even try something new at all? Does their self-belief or lack of it dictate who they are in the world? More importantly, how can you empower them to succeed and believe so much in themselves that you grow their resilience to enhance their life experience? All dogs are different, some are hesitant whilst others are fast movers, which is your dog?


Flex Your Clicker Thumb

Clicker training is a really good way to find out how willing your dog is to try new things. Used well, clicker training only works with trying new things, that’s the whole idea of it. Designed initially as a way to click/mark completely natural behaviour choices with wild and marine animals, the clicker is ideally not accompanied with hints or clues. It’s used by skilled clicker trainers in a way that it only encourages new choices. Marking new choices and rewarding them, creates a dog who is interested and confident to start making them more often and that’s empowering.


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Create Opportunities For Success

Another way to grow confidence is to create opportunities for your dog to go just outside their current capacity for success and ensure they succeed in the new capacity. So, for example, setting a little problem or puzzle up that’s a bit harder than they have achieved before, but not so hard that they give up.


Problems and Puzzles

Problems or puzzles usually work well with tasty food as it’s very motivating. Examples of problems as food in a box that your dog needs to get into, open or closed depending on their confidence, Chips particularly likes a sock on an old cardboard gravy pot, or you can use stacking pots with food between them.

When your dog succeeds in something new it’s important to celebrate with them in a way that is suitable for them. Certainly, acknowledge their success and never miss a chance to do so, because that will help them to acknowledge it, which will help them to grow.

Calm Observation Works Wonders

Confidence building on walks and in their immediate environment is intrinsically linked with calmness. Calmness is linked with space. A dog can become very confident by just going out into new environments regularly and sitting, observing the World go by. The key to this is that they have enough safe space around them to relax, being too close to worrying things may have the opposite effect.


Well Managed Social Events

Often people make the mistake of thinking a dog will be happy socially if they see and meet as many dogs and people as possible, but often that’s not the case. Like people, some dogs are social butterflies whilst others don’t really want to mingle with unknown dogs much at all. Social interest is not only part of a dog’s natural personality, it also changes over time.


Important Point!

The key to meeting your dog’s social needs is to know exactly what those needs are. 

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