One of my favorite things about being a dog walker and pet sitter in Milwaukee County is getting to know and help the dog clients I serve. I have a soft spot in my heart for the shy guys; I absolutely love working with them and seeing their gradual progress as we go. It can be really difficult to have a timid pet (for you and them!), so here are some tips on how to build their confidence and show them the world isn’t such a scary place.
- Basic Manners Training – Training work with your dog will help build confidence in the sense he will learn to understand what you expect of him and then be rewarded for it. It is important to note that all of these tips should be positively reinforced. If you use verbal or physical punishment, instead of helping your dog learn predictability, you’ll be showing him the world is unpredictable and something to fear.
- Teach your dog to Touch target – Essentially with this, you’ll be teaching your dog to touch your hand with his nose on command. Once the command has been learned, it can be a great way to help your dog approach new and scary-to-them things. It can also be used as a distraction – say your dog is fearful of garbage trucks, you can ask for the touch command while one is going by and this will help put your dog’s focus on you instead of the truck.
- Desensitization and Counter Conditioning – There is a ton of material out there on how to successfully show your dog that the scary stimuli isn’t so scary. This is typically done by pairing what they are fearful of with a high value, super smelly reward so they can start to predict that when that garbage truck goes rolling by, they get an awesome treat and there’s no need to be afraid. Standing in the area of fear and repeatedly telling your dog how good they are also diminishes the fear.