5 Tips for Raising a Confident Puppy -
One of the most important gifts you can give your new puppy is to raise them to feel secure and confident in a variety of different environments. Confident dogs are easier to train, are more social, and have less of a chance of developing aggressive tendencies.
You have a lot of opportunities to give your new dog confidence. Keep these tips in mind to train a self-assured canine companion:
1. Reward generously for confident and calm behavior in new environments.
Every time you take your puppy to a new place, make sure that you look for the kinds of behaviors you like and reward them often. This will help your dog associate new places with positive experiences. Rather than bringing stress to a new situation, your dog will be excited to explore new people, places and things when a treat might pop out at any moment.
2. Set your dog up for success with short training sessions, attainable criteria, and high rates of reward.
Regardless of what motivators you use in your training sessions, make sure that you are setting the bar low enough for each new behavior that you are rewarding every 2-5 seconds. Try a mix of voice and hand signals too.
By the same token, avoid using corrections or punishment during training sessions. Even though it might be clear in your mind what you are punishing, it usually isn’t clear in your dog’s mind. Excessive punishment leads to an insecure dog who is afraid to try new things.
3. Socialize your puppy early and often.
Once your puppy has had the first round of vaccines, they are ready to meet and play with other puppies. It is critical that you give your puppy chances to work out dog communication with other dogs, particularly those their own age.
Look for safe and controlled environments like puppy classes and/or play dates for early socialization. Dog parks and other unsupervised social areas can invite a dog fight, which can be devastating to a puppy’s sense of safety.
4. Handle your puppy frequently, paying special attention to mouth and paws.
Chose a time when your pup is already tuckered out from some play to run your fingers along their gum lines and massage their paws. This will help your puppy to be comfortable with having their teeth brushed and nails clipped down the road.
5. Stop rewarding overly submissive or anxious behaviors.
One of the biggest things you can do to help a dog that is struggling with confidence is to stop rewarding behavior that is based in fear or anxiety. Many new puppy owners make the mistake of giving in to whining or over coddling a shy dog.
Remember that when you reward any behavior, you can expect more of it in the future. Unless your dog is injured or has some other immediate need, first try to ignore insecure behavior, then look for an opportunity to reward your dog’s calmer and more confident side.
Mat Coulton has worked with dogs for just under a decade and is the founder of WileyPup.com, a doggy lover’s website that provides great tips and advice for pet parents everywhere.