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If your dog lacks confidence, this can lead to aggression and shyness. Building your dog’s confidence will help them get along with people and other animals. Here’s how you can help.
• a willing friend or family member that your dog is comfortable with;
• some of your dog’s favourite treats; and
• a lead.
What to do
1. Put your dog on the lead, while giving them a treat. Ask your friend to stand still, about six feet away from you.
2. Give a command like “say hello!” and walk up to your friend with your dog.
3. Let your friend give your dog a treat – without speaking to or petting them.
4. Turn and lead your dog away, while praising them enthusiastically.
Keep repeating the game until your dog seems keen to approach your friend when they hear the words “say hello!”
Repeat, reward and reinforce
Once your dog is fine with that friend, try the game with different – but still familiar – friends and family until your dog is eagerly greeting everyone.
After that, you can try the game again with someone your dog might not recognise. (Remember, the friend mustn’t look at or touch your dog as this could create stress.) Their job is simply to hand, or toss, your dog a treat when you approach and then you and your dog should move away.
Success: a confident dog
Eventually, your dog will resist moving away. This is the sign that they’re feeling more comfortable approaching people. The friend who’s helping you can now look at your dog, or briefly pet them, giving a second treat. If your dog is still anxious, then go back a step and move away after the first treat for a bit longer.