As a pet parent to a shih tzu that suffers with social anxiety, I noticed that Gabbana struggles with confidence at times. Often times, he isolates himself around strangers or cling tight to me like a tight rain coat.
Knowing that other pet parents are have dogs that are experiencing the lack of confidence around strangers, I began to compile a list of fun interactive games to help boost their dogs confidence.
Experiencing new ways to boost your dog’s confidence is exciting and rewarding. There are several benefits to playing games with your dogs. Playing games aren’t just fun and meaningful, but it also gives your dogs new ways to experience interactive learning without consequence. Fun and engaging games also helps to reduce their anxiety because they are no longer focused on their environment.
Remember that some dogs are more anxious than others, so take your time while playing games. Also remember that change does not happen over time, so continue to play various games to build confidence and promote happiness.
Below is a list of my top three games to help you with boosting warm smiles, wags and confidence.
“Find It” – With a hand full of tasty treats behind your back, have your dog sit in front of you. Say “Find it!” in a happy and cheerful tone followed by tossing a treat out of your left hand. While your dog gets to the treat, before he eats it, say “Find it” and toss another treat a few feet to the right. Continue doing this process back and forth until your dog began to easily move to find another one. Toss each treat farther than before.
Run Away - Start by walking with your dog on-leash. While walking, say “run away”, then turn around and run; encourage your dog to run with you for a squeaky toy, a ball, a handful of high value treats at the end of the run, or a rousing game of tug. The key to success with this exercise is convincing your dog that the “run away’, Keep this activity fun and interactive.
Obedience Walking – while on a walk, to keep your dog’s attention on you, play a tug game by using treats and phases such as “look at me”, to keep their eye on you. Many dogs become fearful of people who are walking nearby. The obedience walking technique will help plus it is a fun and interactive game to play with your dog.
Remember, the best way to change is behavior is through consistency! Have fun boosting your dog's confidence and playing games.