Building Confidence

As a young girl, my favorite activity to do with my dog was build obstacles for him to conquer. Whether it was rearranging the furniture or using other household objects to create jumps and tunnels, it never ceased to entertain me and make me so proud of my super-dog. When we adopted Norah and Jones, my love for confidence building exercises grew into accomplishing natural obstacles on our various hiking trails. From large fallen trees, to old stone walls, our dogs knew no bounds. It was most amazing having two small dogs with little hesitation. As their confidence grew, we began noticing them attempting different obstacles that we hadn’t even noticed (such as scaling a wall we simply walked up next to).

Due to my limitations with my disabilities, it has been difficult to give our two bigger pups, Nihmh and Khoena, the same sort of training. It’s often rare for me to get out of the house, let alone have the enough energy by the time we arrive at a trail. Life is certainly different, but we’ve been making an effort to make the best of our situation and what abilities we do have. We’re thankful we now live on a five acre ranch where we can still take walks “close to home” and where we still have natural obstacles, such as large boulders and bent trees. Just recently we used our horses’ hay bales to set up an obstacle with a ramp, a large gap to jump and a long plank to walk across.

Having seen movies such as Dante’s Peak where their dog had to run on the hillside next to their truck and then leap into their truck bed to be rescued, it’s always been important to me to work on such challenges before they’re life threatening. From using the couch and barstool indoors to the large boulders and hay stacks outdoors, we also work on the dogs’ trust in letting us catch them when they take a leap of faith into our arms below. If you read our first post All About Nihmh, you know that Nihmh’s naturally shy and timid. I have found these sorts of exercises to be one of the best to build her confidence in herself and strengthen her trust in me. It has been heart-warming to see her tackle various challenges and be so proud of herself.

We all have different abilities, different environments and different options. We would love to hear what you use to work on building confidence with your dog! Perhaps it will give us a few ideas to incorporate on the ranch.

4 thoughts on “Building Confidence

  1. I absolutely love this post! Lady is a very anxious dog and building confidence is something I’m always looking to do. Do you have any specific tips or pointers? Like specific tricks or things we should work on to build confidence and strengthen our bonds with our dogs? This is something I’d love to discuss more with you!

    1. Hi Caroline! I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. It sounds like Lady and Nihmh may be similar, so I’ll share how we started with Nihmh. In the beginning, she was on high alert, even just walking around the ranch. We made sure to start with short trips, slowly increasing the duration. One of Nihmh’s stress-releases and comforts is to hear me laugh or see me smile. It helps her to know that I am not stressed in the situation and causes her to attempt to re-evaluate a situation. I try to keep each new situation light and happy with lots of laughter! Once she was comfortable exploring the land, we started asking her to inspect different things such as logs, buckets and other strange objects that she was not used to on a daily basis indoors. From there, we introduced different heights by asking her to “paws up” or “jump” onto logs, low branches and short boulders. As she began gaining confidence and eagerly attempting these jumps on her own, we increased the difficulty. She now will scale extremely tall boulders (to her) with a mostly sheer wall. She knows she needs to have the speed and no hesitation to make it to the top. As you progress through the different steps, it’s so heart-warming to watch their confidence /in themselves/ to accomplish different tasks and obstacles. I wish you the best in your endeavors with Lady and I am always happy to share our thoughts if you ever have questions. Thank you so much for supporting our blog!

  2. Love this post! You have to give me some more tips! Cause honestly Nihmh is dog goals 😍 it is very important to train! I work with Copper a lot (his timid nature) sometimes will prevent him from being a confident dog. But jumping on boulders, over logs, on stumps and grates is always a fun challenge. He’s getting more and more comfortable and confident! I know Nihmh is a total ROCKSTAR! ♡

    1. You are the cutest, Clarizza! I know it’s sometimes difficult to get out and about, so there’s lots of things you can work on indoors as well! Even building confidence with objects like the vacuum cleaner–can you challenge yourself to be able to comfortably use the handheld hose across Copper’s coat? You could also use an upside down box and reward Copper for patiently and comfortably waiting underneath it! For height challenges, you can ask him to jump up on a chair and “sit pretty” or stand tall on his hind legs. You may even have different sturdy boxes, tables or chairs to create different levels. Always make sure the obstacles you create are sturdy (or low to the ground if not). Let me know if you need help coming up with ideas with what is available to you!

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