Confidence building games for dogs are a great way to instill courage and new skills in bashful canines. Many dogs, like many people, can be reserved, shy, and sometimes scared. Anxious and shy dogs require training and socialization to navigate the wide world around them. Shelter dogs or abused dogs often need a bit of a boost when it comes to their level of comfort around new situations, people, and other pets. That’s where their pet owner comes in. 

Here are a few of Union Lake Pet Services’ favorites, so you can teach your little companion how to shine.

The First Step Is Training

Your dog will not only be better behaved and safer through positive reinforcement training, but training will build confidence in a dog through the skills they learn. This initial step in teaching basic commands and introducing your dog to other dogs and people will give them the fearlessness to boldly be their natural doggie self. 

Call us for more information on our training sessions, or to speak with a professional trainer.

6 Confidence Building Games for Dogs

If your pet is on the shy side, playing games gives them something they can focus on, learn, and get verbally rewarded through praise. This provides a good sense of safety and security in your dog, so they can experience new things with greater ease. Using confidence-building exercises for dogs as tools is relaxed and versatile. Your dog can learn foundational behavior and emotional skills through enjoyable activities that don’t entail stress.

1. Find the treat – What dog doesn’t want to sleuth out something delicious? Not many. This game relies on your dog’s natural ability to find things using their nose. Place a treat or two in some more obvious places, then gradually increase the hidden object into an area that is more challenging.

Scent is a powerful motivator for canines, and through sniffing out a treat or some other edible, your pup will expend energy doing something they love. The reward of finding the hidden treat also helps to build confidence in a dog to explore.

2. Play a game with your dog – Interactive games decrease boredom, inspire exercise and direct attention, and bolster the bond you share with your pet. We like games that get your dog moving, such as tug of war (which engages all the muscles), doga, fetch, and running after a laser pointer. Interactive games expend pent-up energy and redirect fear and aggression into something that exhausts those tendencies to act out. Plus, you can play some of these indoors on days when the weather doesn’t permit outdoor fun.

3. Teach your dog tricks – Trick training like roll over, beg, shake, and so on are fantastic methods of encouraging your dog to learn. After your pup masters basic commands like sit, stay, and come, you can advance the training to have your pet jump through a hoop, dance, speak, and bring things to you. When your dog masters each of these more complex tasks, they will be happy to please you, which bolsters more confidence.

4. Give your pet mental enrichment puzzles Treat dispensing puzzles require your dog’s full attention. These are a good choice for dogs who need a lot of activity and enjoy problem solving and tasks, such as working breeds. Start your dog off with something simple, like a Kong toy or toilet paper roll, smeared with a teaspoon of peanut butter. From there, opt for some Einstein doggie puzzles, such as the Brick Puzzle by Outward Hound, Flip Board by Trixie, and the Pet Zone IQ ball.

5. Touch exercise game – This game of teaching your dog to touch your hand, the palm or the back of the hand, with their nose is one of the simplest things for them to understand and remember. Even the most challenging dogs who are resistant to trick training will enjoy this task. Simply choose a good smelling treat and place it in one of your hands. Hold both hands out, tightened into fists with a treat in one, and let your dog investigate. When your Fido touches the correct fist with their nose, exclaim, “yes” or “good” and give them the reward.

With the game of touch, over time they start using the “touch” command  in conjunction with putting their nose to your palm. The exclamation of “touch” will eventually be reward enough and give your pet that ego boost for a job well done.

6. Free Shaping – This game encourages shy or hesitant dogs to try new things without worrying about doing something wrong. It is easy to be rewarded without worrying about doing something wrong. You shape a behavior with a series of small steps as they dog experiments and learns new behaviors. Watch an example then learn more about using free shaping

Questions About Games for Dogs? Call Us!

Your friends at Union Lake are here to help give your pet the best life possible. We can offer suggestions for trust building, confidence, and outgoing characteristics in formerly shy and scared dogs. We also offer a variety of training classes that are great for bolstering your pet’s behavioral and mental well-being.

For more suggestions on confidence building games for dogs, please call us.