No dog parent wants to see their dog struggling with confidence, whether that’s at home or out in public.
A confident dog is one that is more likely to feel happy and secure with themselves, playing with the best dog toys independently but also socializing with new people and dogs. And if your pup is confident, it’ll likely make life easier for you, too.
Thankfully, there are some easy ways to help build up your dog’s confidence, and you can start by using something as simple as their daily walk to get started. Certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has taken to Instagram to show us just what to do.
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“I will utilize just about anything around me to use in some way to make things more interesting and fun for a dog,” Goodman begins. “Climbing on rocks, short walls and other things along those lines are simple ways to add some physical and mental challenges to your outings while also strengthening your connection with your dog at the same time.”
She explains that while it might seem silly for her to get the dog she’s walking to jump on a rock, for example, you can see how it’s something he struggles with at first. But then once he’s got the hang of it, he’s happily doing it – he’s become more confident.
You’ll tire your dog out more too, because they’re not only using their body but thinking as well. Increasing confidence and reducing anxiety in dogs and knowing that you might get a relaxing sit-down later on too? It’s a win-win!
Of course, sometimes when we’re walking our dogs we just want to give them some exercise and head home – after all, many of us lead busy lives and sometimes it’s not possible to take a lot of time out for a long walk.
But, it doesn’t take long to help build your dog’s confidence on a walk. Even if you’re only taking a quick walk around the block, there might be something to climb on or walk around that your dog might be unsure of at first, but soon learn to enjoy!
In a way, what Goodman recommends is a form of desensitization. But what is desensitization for dogs?
In short, it involves gradually exposing our dogs to triggers in a calm and controlled manner, making them more confident, more resilient, and less anxious or reactive. It’s similar to what we sometimes refer to as exposure therapy for humans, and many vets and trainers agree that it works for our precious canines.
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.