The Best Dog Confidence Building Exercises For Shy Dogs

Do you own a timid dog who ends up either being too quiet or shy around anyone he encounters? While some dogs are born with shy personalities, others have endured different experiences that caused them to feel fear. Either way, it’s important to help them break their shell and let their loving personality show!

There are actually many ways how including dog confidence-building exercises that bring out the best in them. But what are these exercises and how can you try doing them with your dog? Read on as I show you five interesting dog confidence-building exercises to help you out!

dog confidence building exercises
Shy dog learns to trust and take a treat.

Effective Dog Confidence-Building Exercises For Shy Dogs

Are you wondering about the different types of exercises you can do to help your shy dog? These are easy and effective exercises known to help with their socialization skills:

Free Shaping Games

Shaping is when you build up a specific behavior by taking small steps to achieve it. It’s basically to teach your dog new commands and behaviors without utilizing corrections. This can help encourage your dog to try new things without worrying about any punishment or rejection.

You can try doing the 101 things to do with a box, which allows you to see the ways your dog learns and to help him experience new things confidently.

Try placing a box on the ground without doing any commands. Let your dog decide what he can do with it, investigating and exploring. Every time he tries to do a behavior or acts upon a box (or any other object, really), praise and give him a treat!

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Find the Treats

This is another great way to help train their noses with a reward when they win! It also boosts their confidence since they get to learn new skills. Plus, it has them become busy and mentally stimulated as you both play, strengthening your bond and having him trust you more.

I recommend that you practice this game in the comforts of your home to prevent any scary distractions which cause anxiety in dogs. By enhancing their ability to focus, it can boost your dog’s confidence and has them concentrate on one thing than the scary environment!

Just have them sniff out the treat and hide it in easier areas around the house, helping them as they go.


This is another game that can definitely improve your dog’s confidence! It has your dog focus on one object, touching it with their nose. It’s actually more of an activity to help boost their confidence.

I recommend that you teach them how to touch hands, which helps teach your dog feel more confident when with strangers. It also helps with their attention span and has them know that a hand shouldn’t be something to feel afraid of.

Labrador puppy and young woman

All you need is your hand and some treats to encourage them! Hold out your hand and once he licks, touches, or sniffs the hand, give him a treat. Repeat until he’s familiar with the exercise and feels comfortable with your touch.

Interactive Games

Another great way to build confidence in your dog is through interactive games that work on their physical and mental fitness. It also helps alleviate anxiety or behavioral problems while strengthening your bond with your dog!

One nice game is a tug of war, which engages in fun play while providing a lot of physical and mental exercise. Just make sure that you use safe materials and that you avoid making it TOO aggressive to the point they play too rough.

toy fox terrier playing tug of war
Toy Fox Terrier playing tug of war.

I also recommend you play fetch, another favorite that many dogs will love! These games definitely encourage your dog to play more and feel comfortable.

Trick Training

Trick training is one of my favorite dog confidence building exercises, which helps teach your dog basic obedience skills. You can even teach them advanced tricks as they go!

However, you shouldn’t punish them or put on negative reinforcements. Rather than using electric shock collars or screaming and spanking, have a stern tone without hurting them. And when they successfully do a trick, praise them a lot and give them their favorite treats! It’ll definitely boost their confidence while increasing their mental stimulation.

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Check out more exercises you can do to help build your dog’s confidence with this informative video:

Wrapping It Up

Dealing with shy dogs can feel a bit difficult at first, especially when they show aggressiveness or intense fear. Fortunately, once you begin doing the right exercises, you can enjoy with your dog and break out his confidence now. All it takes is time and effort, as well as compassion and patience.

Hopefully, these dog confidence-building exercises gave you an idea on what to do for your shy pet. So don’t wait any longer and try any of these exercises today.

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