How to help your dog build confidence

Is your dog afraid of everything? Here’s how to help him shake his fear and rebuild confidence. 

If your dog is a “scaredy cat” the first step is to rule out any medical issues. For example, have your vet check his eyesight. If they can’t find anything, it’s possible his fear is stemming from a frightening experience. It could be anything, like a loud noise from the street, etc. but what it was doesn’t really matter. There is a great book called Help for Your Fearful Dog by Nicole Wilde that has a lot of great tips on rebuilding your dog’s confidence. Basically, you want to start very small and at a level of comfort for him where he is not afraid. We call this “under threshold”.

The program will involve exposing him to things he is afraid of at a distance he is comfortable with and rewarding him with food or whatever he finds highly rewarding. Slowly decrease the distance but always at a level he is comfortable with. Never push him past his comfort zone as this can increase the fear level. Some ways to build his confidence could be doing some obedience exercises in the home, or trick training. It doesn’t really matter what it is in terms of what you teach him, the point is to engage his brain and have him focus on you. I would also highly recommend working one on one with a professional as this can be an involved program, and your timing for when you reward the dog has to be very good. You can find someone near you at