dogs are naturally sociable animals; their understanding of their world is based upon a social position within a hierarchical pack. Some dogs are dominant, others will be submissive and both will behave according to its position. Your family group is basically a pack scenario to fido. Whilst you really don't want him to be top dog, nor do you want him to be so submissive that he spontaneous urinates to try and grovel for you. In this latter scenario Fido's confidence is definitely requiring a boost!
Dog Training Activities
Positive social interaction is key, and basic obedience training can be a good place to start. The best system to use would be one that rewards good behaviour with praise and treats, but ignores bad behaviour. Fido will have fun and learn that he will be rewarded when he gets things right, but not punished if it goes a bit awry. Nobody responds to constant negativity. agility training is to be recommended in particular as exercise is great for relieving stress.
Shy of People?
If the dog has problem with people-interaction, then perhaps a friend can be employed to assist with this side of the socialisation process. Calm, quiet stance and in effect, ignoring the dog, will allow the animal to approach in its own time. If the friend then makes their physically appear smaller by crouching or lying on the floor this will be less of an apparent threat; also the friend might have their back to the animal but have treats in their hand, which the dog should be allowed to investigate. Once this small amount of confidence is built, the friend can then speak quietly to the dog before finally looking and gently petting.
Good Owner Behaviour
Improving your own behaviour patterns will lessen the chances of the dog exhibiting behaviours that requires scolding. It's not a good idea to place a temptation in the dog's path such as a slipper to chew on, or an open bin to raid: the dog cannot be held responsible for behaving as a dog. Dogs also rely on body language as a major form of communication: how you approach a dog, how you look at dog, even vocal tone, will have an effect on his behaviour. Put yourself a doggy-eye level; keep the voice low, calm and measured: no extremities of volume or pitch.
A dog's confidence may have been shattered in the first place by abusive instruction. Dogs will respond costively to praise and firm but gentle instruction. By following this method, your dog will display more confidence.
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