When most people get a new puppy, they have an idea of what needs to be worked on. Socialization, potty training and basic manners are usually on the forefront of a new puppy owner's mind. Something that is equally important, but often overlooked, is helping your puppy to build confidence. Puppies are so impressionable at a young age and helping them explore the world around them in a fun, positive way, can grow their self confidence and lead to a dog who can adjust and adapt to new things more easily as an adult dog. Genetics do play a big part in your dog’s self confidence, but whether they are predisposed to an abundance or a lack of confidence, these games and activities will only help if done correctly. There are tons of really fun ways to help your puppy grow some confidence. Here are three ways of doing just that!
Teach some tricks.
Tricks can be such a fun way to build confidence, your relationship and your training skills. Start with some basic tricks such as sit, down, touch and spin. Learning these simple tricks can not only help build that confidence while they tackle fun tasks, but it will set up for a future of fun learning and training.
Check out our video on teaching Touch, a novice trick, here.
If tricks really spark your interest, check out our online tricks class where there are 18 different tricks broken down for you and your puppy to learn!
Choice and exploration to build independence.
Giving your puppy choices can be so empowering for them. If you are out on a walk and there is a smell that your puppy wants to follow, let them! This may not be feasible all the time but when it is, let it happen. Let them choose which way to go when the trail forks. Food enrichment can be a great way to let your dog be independent. Toys like the Kong Wobbler or the Starmark Puzzle Ball are great ways to feed your puppy allowing them to work for their food. There are also some great DIY games you can play such as a Busy Box and The muffin tin game. Letting your puppy problem solve for themselves will not only help their confidence grow, but all that mental stimulation will help tire them out, and who doesn’t want a tired puppy?
Play games with different objects and surfaces.
This can be the most fun part. Setting up little tasks for your puppy to accomplish is fun and will fill them with a sense of accomplishment. Knowing they have accomplished a task and made you happy can be great for them. Use things that you have around the house and ask them to interact with them in different ways.
Have cinder blocks out back? Lure your puppy’s front paws up onto it by holding a treat right in front of their nose and slowly leading them up and onto it. This works with anything from wood blocks, window seats, buckets, boxes, whatever you have that is safe!
Grab a hula hoop and lure them through it. If you see that they are really nervous about that, put the hoop on the ground and just put some treats near the edge so they can eat out of the middle. As they get more comfortable, then pick it up and lure them through.
Lure them under chairs or coffee tables. If they are worried about going under, just reward them for putting a snout under a few times, then their head, then their shoulders until they get all the way under.
Get creative and look around your home to find fun, interactive games to play with your dog. Just make sure you are never pulling them onto things, or picking them up and putting thom onto obstacles as that will degrade confidence rather than build it. Want to learn a little more about different ways to teach your dog to interact with the world around them? Check out our blog about Dog Parkour! ( Learn more here.)
So remember, whatever you are doing to help your puppy build their confidence, keep in mind that you are a team! If your puppy is looking uncomfortable or fearful, take a step back and try something easier for them. Get creative, have fun and watch your puppy grow! Check out our free Homework Club for more training tips, challenges and fun. Subscribe to our youtube channel so you don’t miss out on our free training videos.