build confidence in a timid dog

The world is full of terrifying “stuff” and some dogs cope better than others. So how can you give courage to a timid dog? Here are some tips:

basic training – Using positive reinforcement can help improve communication and create routines with your dog, both at home and in a variety of settings. Sit, sit, stay, come when called, leave, get off the lead and walk properly.

fun tricks – This is not teaching circus tricks! “Go behind my feet” (pass scary stuff), “Bring me a trainer”, “Find the keys”, “Empty the washing machine” ‘, ‘Take off your socks’, ‘Find the TV remote control’, etc.” … the list is endless. And the more your dog learns, the faster it learns new things.

targeting – Teach your dog to touch something with its nose (or paw). For example, “touch” my palm with your nose. This can also be useful as a Plan B recall or to quickly change direction during a walk, or to move your dog away from furniture or the door without touching it.

find it – Dogs love this! Use your nose to find hidden treats, specific scents, favorite toys, people, and even another pet.

Playtime helps build confidence

play – Play together, stay together. This is probably the most important thing you can do with your dog. There are many options: pull, fetch, or chase toys with a flirt stick. All you need to do is find the type of toy your dog likes: ball, cord, fleece, fluffy, squeaky.

enrichment activities – This is letting your dog do something interesting. You can feed your dog with edible toys such as snuffle mats, kongs, and liqui mats, or give them proper chew bones. Lick, chew, sniff All in all, it’s a great way to calm your dog down.

desensitization – Repeated exposure to the fear at a very low level and gradually increasing the level (be careful not to overwhelm the dog).

counter conditioning – Make sure your dog has a tasty treat right after being exposed to something scary. Then associate this formerly “scary” thing with something positive.

So, while there are many “scary” things, there are also many “positive” things we can do to help our furry friends build confidence.

Happy Feet Dogs offers training on how to deal with or prevent resource guarding. For more information, see: or email

To Diane Law

Diane Lowe has lived in the Algarve for 23 years. It’s not where she was born, it’s where she belongs. She is passionate about dogs, hiking and spending time in nature. build confidence in a timid dog

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