If you’ve recently brought a furry friend home you’re probably busy cleaning up after his accidents, training him to sit and teaching him to sleep in his own bed. But have you thought about helping him to grow from a playful pup into a resilient dog?
If your pup is shy you might just think it’s something he will outgrow, but many shy pups grow up to be fearful adult dogs, and many happy pups can also become anxious adults. As a pet owner, however, there are many things you can do to help your pet build resilience. Here are a few tips:
- Many pet owners will report that certain types of people (such as those with loud voices or beards) scare their pets. So, ensure your pup has many experiences with different types of people. Slowly and sensitively introduce him to a range of people – older people and babies, people in hats or on crutches, children and those in uniform such as police officers or tradespeople who wear hi-vis clothing.
- Treat your pet to a variety of different environments, such as the beach, or out in the bush, the backyard and dog park. Ensure he feels comfortable in all rooms of the house too.
- It’s important your pet is used to walking on grass and concrete, tiles and carpet, dirt and gravel – it might surprise you to discover that some pets won’t walk on certain surfaces because they are just not used to the feel of them underfoot.
- Let your puppy play with soft toys, cardboard, squeaky toys and hard balls. This will help him get used to different textures and weights.
- Always keeping safety in mind, let your pup have different experiences, such as climbing out of a box or up a staircase, around a fence or through a tunnel. This will help him learn how to solve problems and build his confidence.
- Give him a variety of foods and let him eat out of different types of bowls – ceramic and plastic, wood and metal.
- Expose him to different smells and noises – thunder and vacuums, traffic noise and loud music. Teach him that he shouldn’t be scared of sound, and that it’s a normal part of life.
By sensitively introducing lots of new experiences into your pup’s life (and with you by his side giving him lots of pats and praise) he will grow into a confident, happy dog.