How to Build Two Little Dog’s Confidence When Meeting New People

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: August 26, 2017

Wiley (left) a two-year-old Schipperke mix who lives in Omaha with a four-year-old Lhasa Apso mix, Panda (right). Their guardians set up a dog behavior training session to fix fear of strangers and build their confidence.

As you can see in the video above, I turned sideways and crouched down to make myself look less threatening or intimidating to the dogs. I also used high value, treat rewards to make a positive association between a new person walking through the door and them getting a yummy treat. Panda quickly warmed up to me once I gave her treats.

When I sat down with the guardians I learned that Panda used to be very calm around new people but through social learning started copying Wiley’s fearful barking behavior when new people walked through the door. I taught the guardians our Petting with a Purpose technique, to reward the dogs through petting for good behavior. I talked to them about not petting either dogs when they are barking at new people and to reward Panda with petting when she calms down. This will help teach Wiley that he needs to have calm energy to receive attention.

I also introduced a counterconditioning method to help Wiley overcome his fear of strangers and help him to stop barking. You can see how I did this in the video below.

As you can see in the video, we started with Wiley being as far away from me as possible to help him gain self control. Little by little we built up his confidence and by using positive dog training we were able to get him to take a treat out of my hand without being anxious.

By the end of the session both dogs were able to take a treat out of my hand while in the same room together. To keep up with this good behavior the guardians will want to contact friends who will be willing to help them train their dogs to approach people calmly. Remember if the dogs act fearful to have them move backwards to increase the distance between the dogs and the new person to help the dogs regain self control. We wrapped up this behavior session with Wiley and Panda’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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