Puppies are just beginning to discover the world around them, and encouraging and building a sense of confidence will help them become better acclimated and more social. Every pup’s temperament is different, with some being shy while others are more outgoing. Help your puppy gain confidence by zeroing in on his unique personality and looking for ways to help him acclimate and become more sure of himself and his place in your world.
Socialize Your Puppy
Puppies who are limited to meeting only household members will lack confidence when they go out in public and are around unfamiliar people, places and things. Socialize your pup from an early age by taking him along on short car rides, walking him around your neighborhood on a leash and allowing him to interact with houseguests in a non-intimidating, non-threatening way. If your puppy shows fearfulness at meeting new people, ask guests to sit quietly and avoid eye contact with your puppy while offering treats to encourage positive engagement.
Address Fear Issues
If your puppy seems fearful of something in particular, like loud noises, big dogs, cats or even a specific member of your household, slowly introduce him to these scary things in a way that will build confidence. For example, if your puppy is afraid of other dogs, find a small, gentle dog to introduce him to. If he’s afraid of someone in the household, have that person be responsible for feeding and playing with the pup so you can build his confidence by creating a positive association. Be mindful of real threats, such as young children who can't control their impulses and may pull or pinch you dog, and limit your pup’s interaction unless supervised.
Train Your Puppy
Train your puppy to perform simple commands, either on your own or through an obedience training program, to help him gain confidence. Lavish him with praise when he performs as instructed and you'll boost his confidence because he'll know what he can do to make you happy. Don't speak to your dog in harsh tones or physically reprimand him, which can make him scared of you, and will damage the bond of trust you share. This can actually decrease the puppy’s overall confidence levels.
Create a Routine
Puppies often feel more confident when they know what to expect in their lives. Create a daily routine for your pup that includes exercise, playtime, feeding time and even quiet alone time. When he feels confident about his surroundings and his life in general, minor schedule changes and new people won’t rattle him as much.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.