As humans, we are no strangers to confidence issues. What is less familiar is the animal expression of the problem. Indeed, many pets suffer from lack of courage, but owners don’t always know how to address them. The nature of confidence issues in dogs is diverse. Causes can range from severe trauma, like an abusive past, to more subtle sources, like environmental cues. Dogs also express their lack of confidence in myriad ways, from shyness to physical submission in facing a threat.
Thankfully, there are some easy tricks you can use to help your dog develop more confidence. Most of these involve creating a sense of predictability in its environment. The other examples focus on affection. Much like confidence, love and appreciation transcend the human and animal realms, inducing positive emotion and boosting self-esteem.
Here are 4 tactics certain to increase your fearful friend’s confidence.
- Use positive reinforcement
Studies have repeatedly shown how effective rewards are for strengthening desired behavior. Compliments, treats and play are an excellent way to help instill new behaviors in your dog. In teaching simple tasks like “sit,” reward successful trials with a treat or verbal praise. These apparently mundane activities enhance your dog’s familiarity with home and outing environments.
- Know where to pet him
Not all affections are created equal. While some people think that petting is the universal language of approval, petting your dog on the head can have the opposite effect. This gesture can be annoying or, worse yet, a form of dominance over your pet. Rub your dog’s belly or the back of its ears if you want to effectively communicate your love. Feeling loved will help its self-worth and confidence.
- Get down to his level
Another way to connect with your dog and help its confidence is by physically stooping to its level. Reducing yourself to its height inspires trust and reduces feelings of submission to you. The gap between you two reduced, your dog can extrapolate this feeling of equality toward other objects of intimidation.
- Distract him
If you recognize the environments and cues that inspire fear for your dog, create some mental distance between it and the threat. Do this by engaging it in play or practicing new tricks. That will remove the focus from the negative emotion and channel attention to the positive activity.
Increasing your pup’s familiarity with its surroundings through training and showing affection are easy ways to increase your dog’s confidence. For more creative ways to express your affection, visit the Baylee Nasco site for fun gift ideas.