Quick Tips to Increase Confidence & Decrease Fearfulness


  • NEVER tell dog it is OK when it is not
  • Use "Jolly Routine" with play, treats, or toys to get dog thinking about something OTHER than what is concerning him
  • Emphasis on appropriate praise for appropriate behavior
  • Remove emotion, especially disappointment or anger!
  • Favorite treat and/or toy reserved for stressful times ONLY
  • "Strangers" should have special treats (they are "treat dispensers")
  • Obedience commands work to get dog thinking rather than reacting
  • Tone of voice is VERY important!  Sweet, soft tones are reassuring and should ONLY be reserved for cuddle times
  •  Normal, matter of fact tones of voice conveys confidence
  • Teach a "watch me" command – watching you will keep your dog safe
  • Exposures to new things should be carefully planned, timed & supervised
  • Clear commands, few words, NO asking/pleading, but BE NICE!
  • ON LEASH when challenging situations happen
  • Backsliding is expected and prepared for
  • Tug games can increase confidence (need to also teach an "out" command)
  • Teach thinking games at home: names of family, toys, places, objects...
  • Prevent hiding & cowering away from fearful things
  • Use a word or phrase in place of "It's OK" ("Oh, you're being SILLY!").  Use your matter of fact tone of voice to cue the dog to something OTHER than the fearful object or situation ("sit", "watch me", etc)
  • "Let's say hi" is a good phrase to cue your dog to interacting with strangers, and have plenty of tasty treats & jolly praise handy!
  • "Look" is good for introductions to potentially fearful objects, along with a jolly, confident attitude
  • Petting and touch reserved for non-fearful or non-shy behavior (petting can inappropriately praise this behavior!)

Pam Young, LVT CDBC CPDT  
Dog Gone Good LLC
Dog Behavior Consultant
Personal Dog Trainer