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Boosting Confidence: Fun Games for Shy Pups!

This week’s blog will talk about something near and dear to my heart: helping our shy or nervous furry friends build confidence through positive reinforcement training games. Trust me, folks, with a little patience, love, and games-based training you can turn even the shyest pup into a confident pupper superstar! So, let’s dive in and discover some paw-some games to help your timid pup shine.

Game 1: One of my favourite confidence-building games: the treasure hunt! All you need is a handful of your dog’s food and a bit of creativity. Start by hiding food around the house or in the garden, making sure to place them in easy-to-find spots at first. As your pup gets the hang of it, you can gradually increase the difficulty level, encouraging them to use their nose and problem-solving skills to uncover hidden treasures. Not only is it a fun game, but it also helps boost your pup’s confidence as they conquer each new challenge.

Game 2: How about a game of “find the toy”? It’s like hide-and-seek, but with a twist. Start by showing your pup their favourite toy, then hide it somewhere nearby while they watch. Once it’s hidden, give them the cue to “find it” and watch as they use their nose and instincts to track down their beloved toy. Not only does it provide mental stimulation, but it also helps boost your pup’s confidence as they successfully complete the task.

Game 3: Next up, we’ve got the confidence course (you may know this as Cardboard Chaos in Absolute Dogs or Obstacle Course if you’ve done Puppy Academy with me) – an agility-inspired game that’ll have your pup feeling like a true champion. Set up a mini obstacle course in your backyard or living room using everyday household items like chairs, broomsticks, and cardboard boxes. I tend to raid the recycling bin. Hide food in and around the items for your furbaby to find. Then, encourage your pup to navigate the course using positive reinforcement and praise. Many a puppy in class has become obsessed with the ball pit and you can recreate your own with a cardboard box and some scrunched up paper or plastic bottles. Not only will running the course help build their confidence, but it’ll also give them a fun and stimulating way to burn off some energy.

Game 4: Last but not least, we can’t forget about the power of playtime. Whether it’s a game of tug, a round of fetch, or simply rolling around on the floor together, engaging in playtime with your pup is a surefire way to build confidence and strengthen your bond. So, put on your silliest voice, grab their favourite toy, and let the fun begin!

It’s so important to create a safe and supportive environment for your shy or nervous dog. Just like humans, dogs thrive when they feel safe and secure, so it’s essential to create a calm and comforting space where your pup can relax and be themselves. Whether it’s a cozy corner with their favourite blanket or a quiet room away from noisy distractions, providing a sanctuary for your Fido can work wonders for their confidence when you see that they’re feeling overwhelmed.

And don’t forget about the power of positive reinforcement! Shower your shy pup with praise, some food or a treat, and affection whenever they display brave behaviour or step out of their comfort zone. By rewarding their efforts you’ll help build their confidence and reinforce positive behaviours. A little praise goes a long way in boosting your pup’s self-esteem!

Every dog is unique, so be patient, be kind, and above all, be their biggest cheerleader as they embark on their journey to confidence and self-assurance. You can help your furry friends shine bright like the superstars they are! Hmmm….that sounds similar to a song I know. Enjoy that earworm!

Remember, it’s not about pushing your pup out of their comfort zone; it’s about gently encouraging them to explore and grow at their own pace. Patience is key when it comes to helping your shy pup blossom. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is confidence. So, celebrate every small victory along the way, whether it’s a tail wag, a tentative sniff of a new toy, or a brave step forward. Each tiny triumph is a step in the right direction toward a happier, more confident pup. So, go ahead, get creative, and watch as your timid pup transforms into a confident canine superstar!

Lastly, please don’t be afraid to seek professional help if your pup’s shyness is causing them distress or interfering with their quality of life. A positive reinforcement dog trainer and/or vet behaviourist can work with you to develop a customised training plan and medication support (if required) that will be tailored to your pup’s specific needs and personality. With the right guidance and support, even the shyest of pups can learn to face their fears and embrace the world with confidence and courage.

Game On! Let’s Play!


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