If your dog is submissive to the point of cowering, he might need a boost in his confidence. But how? You can use positive reinforcement and basic training to help a fearful pooch feel more secure in his own skin.
How to Boost Your Dog's Confidence
The Power of Praise
Praise him. Positive reinforcement is essential. Keeping your tone of voice soothing and calm, praise your dog any time he does anything correctly, such as following commands when you walk him. When the dog is resting in his designated area, approach him, come down to his level, and show him affection by scratching his belly or behind his ears. Tell him he's a good boy. You want him to get used to your voice and make him feel safe and loved. If your dog hides, don't force him to come out to where you are. Attempt to draw him out, but also give him his space. He will need some time to warm up to you and realize that it's safe for him to be out among people.
Train him. Teach him how to sit, stay, roll over and so on. Some trainers prefer to not offer rewards, such as treats, when training dogs. Even if you decide not to use treats to reward your dog while training him, you still can offer positive reinforcement with your tone of voice and giving him affection. Give him verbal praise and rubs when he learns a command. When your dog learns a command he understands that he's done something to please you which helps boost his confidence. Take it one step further. Set up a little obstacle course and have him complete it. Agility training will not only help your dog get exercise and burn off any anxiety. It also boosts his confidence because he knows he's doing something fun that pleases you.
Meet Him Eye-to-Eye
Get down to his level. In fact, get down below his eye level and look up at him. You want to show a very shy and submissive dog that you pose absolutely no threat. If you do this twice every day, your dog will eventually kiss you. He may even do so sooner rather than later. The idea is to show him that he is in a safe and loving environment where he doesn't have to hide or cower. Follow up this exercise by sitting in your favorite chair and calling him over. Treats come in handy in this particular exercise, especially if your dog is excessively submissive and not ready to approach you or others in your home. Deliver a treat and scratch behind his ear while telling him he's a good boy in a soothing tone. Soon he will be confident enough to approach you and others in your home on his own.
By Vivian Gomez
About the Author
Vivian Gomez contributes to Retailing Today, the Daily Puppy, Paw Nation and other websites. She's covered the New York Comic Con for NonProductive since 2009 and writes about everything from responsible pet ownership to comic books to the manner in which smart phones are changing the way people shop. Gomez received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.