Confidence in a dog is a lot like confidence in a human. Almost universally it's a positive characteristic. As an example, would you want a confident employee or one who's unsure? A confident doctor or a frightened doctor? Do you want a social circle with friends who are confident and positive, or who are constantly having anxiety?
As a trainer, sometimes owners tell me of their issues with dogs that lack confidence. An example might be a dog who's shaky, scared to try new things, fearful of ordinary situations, or prefers to ignore her owner instead of doing something uncomfortable.
The solution they may say is, "I want my dog to become submissive to me, so it stops acting anxious and does what I tell it."
However, contrary to popular belief, we do not want a calm, submissive dog. In a dog's mind, submission means "Look how small I am, please don't hurt me." In fact, this is NOT confidence. The dog may push itself to do certain behaviors if it's truly become submissive, but it's out of fear. At the end of the day, you have a fearful dog, not a confident one. Who would want that?
By contrast, a confident dog is much easier to teach new behaviors too. A dog that is willing to try new things is much easier to train than a dog with fearful characteristics. This means far fewer problems with your dog down the road compared to having a submissive/fearful pup.
There are a few things that can be done with a puppy or adult dog to increase their confidence immediately. Similar to the Disney character "Bolt the Superdog", we can build a dog's confidence by making them believe they are a "super dog." This can be done through confidence-building activities. Fortunately, I've developed a great variety of these activities to help instill the right, confident behaviors in your dog. Give us a call at 310-948-4966 to learn more.
The idea is to be on the same team as your dog, rather than having a relationship based on fear, or the belief that the owner needs to be the "alpha".
Author: Nathan Schoemer
Editor: Cyrus Kirkpatrick