Confidence is key when it comes to competition dog sports. We want to protect and grow our dog’s confidence throughout the training and competing process. We can build our dog’s confidence by listening to our dog when they say that they are concerned about something. When the dog is concerned, we want to get to a distance away from the scary thing where the dog isn’t concerned and can watch with simple curiosity. At that distance, we can play games that are really easy for the dog at home. If the dog can do sits and downs easily at home without rewards, then practice them at a distance in the new location with frequent rewards to build confidence. Oftentimes, when our dog is showing concern, we give the dog just enough time that we think the dog should resolve their concerns and then we get to our goals of working on skills or sequencing. When we do that we are actually adding the emotional state of being concerned or worried to our skills or sequencing. We don’t want to do that because it will affect future performances. Instead, it is important to focus on what your dog needs in that environment in that moment. It’s always a good idea to really make sure that the dog is feeling eager and confident in that environment prior to practicing skills or sequencing.

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We will be going over maintaining our dog’s confidence in my upcoming foundation class “Bright from the Start”. It’s a great class to work on foundation skills for agility, rally or obedience. There is only one spot remaining! Check it out!