How I "Taught" Confidence to My Puppy
Hi I thought I'd share my method of teaching confidence.
I ended up getting a 9 week old female GSD puppy. Within the first week I decided to take her for a short loose leash walk. A huge dog decided to run outside of his house to the fenced off front yard. It jumped on the fence and started to bark loudly. My puppy got extremely terrified, whimpered and hid behind me with her tail tucked in between her legs. She continuously cried. Afterwards she seemed very scarred from that experience although she didn't get hurt. Sounds of other dogs seemed to worry her. Before, she would ignore other dog noises, but it would have her jump out of her bed with her ears perked.
Maybe people will disagree with what I did, but this is what worked FOR ME.
1) I created a stronger bond with my puppy. I spent more time training her and playing with her. Since I only had her for a week I showed her that I wouldn't hurt or yell at her. She needed to trust me before the next few steps. Also this is common sense: NEVER HIT YOUR PUPPY/DOG.
2) I let her win tug-o-war when we played, but ONLY when she pulled. At first she was reluctant to pull against me. She would hold the toy in her mouth and when I started to tug a bit she would try to let go. I showed her it was okay to play by repeatedly baiting her into getting the toy. I did this by dragging the rope on the floor until she went for it. As she started to tug I let her win. I would then start to increase the strength and duration I would pull at.
3) I let her figure out the stairs. She was extremely hesitant about the stairs the first time I ever introduced it she was no where willing to make an attempt. After 3 days of trying to create a healthy bond she started showing efforts of making it down the stairs. It took her a total of two days to figure it out. Day 1, she came down 2 out of 10 steps down and 3 out of 10 steps up. Day 2 she went down and up all 10 steps.
4) If there were anything she was afraid of I would stand in between her and the object. I would wait until she is showing a more relaxed state before I would start approaching said object. For example: a vacuum. After I would touch the vacuum and do random things like talk and walk around it. I waited until she was ready, but later she approached it, sniffed it and touched it with her paw.
I never baby talked her or crouched down or picked her up in any situation where I thought she was capable.
A week and a half later I decided to walk down the same street with the big dog. The dog did the exact same thing: jump on the fence and started barking. My puppy stood her ground, barked back and then continued walking with me. She didn't cry, tuck her tail, pin her ears back or try to hide behind me. She ignores any other dog that doesn't try to run up to us while barking at us.
Keep in mind that I know a lot of people say "tug-o-war leads to dominance!". She doesn't lead me on a leash, rush out of a door before me, she doesn't go on the furniture and she doesn't bite me.