How to build up puppy's confidence. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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How to build up puppy's confidence.

Hello, we have a 7 month old german shepherd named Max who seems to be very nervous around strangers and other dogs. Whenever a stranger approaches him he starts barking and lunging at them. Whenever a friend comes over to our house Max gets extremely defensive and starts barking at them and attempts to bite. This beheviour started at around 3 month of age. He is a pure bred GSD and we got him from a registered breeder who refuses to acknowledge the problem and help us. We hired a good personal trainer who helped us a lot but still the problem exists and we feel lot more work needs to be done. The trainer is sure that the dog is not an aggressive case but rather a nervous puppy and says we need to build up his confidence in order to fix this problem. So i was wondering if anyone knows any good ways or techniques on how to build up dog's confidence?
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 06:38 PM
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Desensitization - If you put it into the seach bar here, you may find some posts. Otherwise, head over to and put it in the seach bar there, you will get a lot of information to look through.

I found dog sports were great confidence builders once the pup has been desensitized enough to be able to be brought into busier environments. Agility was IMO the best, but tug work, Flyball, Rally-O and tracking are all things I have used to build a dogs confidence.

So did the trainer say "build his confidence", but not give you a "how to"?
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 06:49 PM
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If your pup will play tug with you, that is a great confidence builder. Now that teething is finished it should be great fun for both of you! I'd get a nice french linen tug with two handles for this, and use it while you train him...Michael Ellis has some free video clips, one has the power of tug. There are a few pages on this link of free clips:
Leerburg On Demand | Michael Ellis Videos

I would make sure you don't correct your pup, but redirect the behaviors you don't want. Correcting constantly will not build confidence. Praise the pup whenever you see him doing good behaviors and mark them. Use a clicker w/ treats. Don't take him to places that may be overwhelming, stay on the fringe but still take Max out and about.
Sometimes dogs with timid temperaments won't grow out of that shell. Other times at maturity they are much better, 7 months is an age for fear stages.
When your pup knows you have his back under all circumstances(strong leadership) he will be able to relax and let you take over which is a confidence builder.

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Last edited by onyx'girl; 03-07-2012 at 06:52 PM. Reason: added tug info
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 07:09 PM
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Cesar Millan is my favorite professional dog trainer/behaviorist. You can get some ideas from his website or you can send him a messege.

Usually, when a dog is nervous, he/she doesn't trust his/her owner to handle the situation (whether it would be meeting new people/dogs or moving to an unrecognized lacation). I'm not saying your puppy doesn't trust you.
You may already know this, but when you introduce your puppy to new dogs and people, you need to be calm. Don't get excited, nervous, or angry, this will only cause your dog to feel even more nervous. But like I said before, there is more valuable information on the website I posted.
Good luck!


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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-08-2012, 10:52 AM
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What did the personal trainer say was the reason for the nervousness? I like to know why before I start a stategy to improve.
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