Dogs are naturally sociable animals but sometimes you will come across one that is shy and timid. If this is your dog it can be hard to go out and experience new things together. With a little help, you can help boost your dog’s confidence to make your pooch more confident in their own skin.

How to tell if your dog is afraid

Before you begin boosting your dog's confidence, you need to determine if he is shy or fearful. This is done by watching the body language of your dog. The most obvious ways to tell is: tucked tail, ears back, avoidance, shaking, trying to hide, and other things that a person would recognize as avoidance and fear. 1 Other signs include panting, crouching, and lip licking.

Find an environment where they can be successful

Staying inside your home and stressing over things that may go wrong isn’t beneficial for your mind, and it is the same for your dogs. If you can find a way to bring your dog to a new environment where they feel happy and are excited to be there, bring them there. Hiking can be a fascinating new environment with new sights and smells. Your dog will stop worrying about what is frightening and be excited about the new things around him.

Regularly doing this can make your dog spend less time anxious and more time curious. Though, the outdoors may not work for every dog, so try to find a place where your dog can feel better about themselves.

Training your dog

Teaching your dog commands such as sit, lay down, stay or come can be beneficial in confidence building. It allows you and your dog to develop a language and help guide them to successful behavior. Through this language and other commands, you can help direct your pet’s behavior to something more appropriate when they are feeling fearful.

Another training to try with your dog is agility training.2 Agility training can be a good form of exercise which is a stress relief for them. It is also a great form of socialization and gives opportunities for coaxing with praise and treats. Agility training can be done with household items, so it is not necessary to go out and buy equipment.

Introduce new things slowly

If your dog warms to things slowly take time introducing them to new things or people. If they are skittish around humans remind your friends that they go slowly and allow your dog to set the pace for interaction. Giving treats for exploring new locations and people may be able to help.

For some dogs just being around other dogs can help boost their confidence. For dogs who are open to these interactions they will see the correct behavior for situations and follow suit. They may see what their new friends are doing and think that “hey this looks like fun” and try it for themselves.

The best way to ensure that your dog is confident is to start while they are young. Letting them experience different people, children, dogs, noises, and walking surfaces everyday will help them as they age.

If your dog is older, remember to be patient. Their confidence won’t grow overnight but with these helpful tips, they may be top dog soon. Depending on your dog’s anxiety problem these tips may not work, and you may have to see professional help. Remember every dog is different so what may work for one won’t work for all.


  1. Boosting Confidence
  2. Boost Your Dog

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