Posts Tagged ‘self esteem’


Like people, dogs have their own feelings of self worth. In most cases your dog will think it is the greatest animal in the world, ready to protect your family and loved by all that interact with it. But in some cases, your dog may experience signs of low self esteem. This can be due to:

  • Constant scolding for bad behavior.
  • Insufficient praise for good behavior.
  • Neglect or a lack of stimulation.
  • Limited mobility and a great deal of time in a crate.
  • Pain/injury as a result of play.
  • Failure to achieve any rank within the pack.

In some cases these cannot be avoided. For example, your dog –for its own safety and yours – needs to be on the lowest end of the hierarchy within your “pack.” It is healthier for your dog if it is last in pecking order, as a dog that believes it is higher on the food chain is far more prone to behavior problems.

That said, in most other cases your dog’s self esteem needs to be raised, otherwise serious problems can result. A dog with low self esteem may be prone to:

  • Increased stress in new situations.
  • A general lack in mobility.
  • Submissive urination.
  • Severe separation anxiety.

For your dog’s own health, as well as the status of your furniture, it is very important that your raise your dog’s self esteem when it has become overly submissive.

How to Raise Your Dog’s Self Esteem

Raising your dog’s self esteem is not only better for the health of your dog – it is more fun for you as well. The first tip for improving your dog’s feelings of self worth is by far the most important. You need to praise your dog often for any behavior that it does that you like, while attempting to ignore behaviors that you do not like.

The best way to do this is to keep a large number of treats with you at all times. Whenever your dog does anything you enjoy – even if it is simply laying down by your side and getting pet – you respond by giving your dog a treat and showering it with affection and praise. The latter part of this is important. Simply giving your dog a treat is not enough – your dog wants attention from you to know that it has done a good thing, and that praise and attention that you give it after it has performed the behavior is enough to make your dog feel much better about itself.

Similarly, while you cannot let your dog be higher in the pecking order without risking negative behaviors, you can still let your dog win a few “fights” with you until its self esteem is raised. If you play tug of war with your puppy, for example, it is okay to let your dog win on occasion. This will help your dog feel as though it has strength can handle itself.

Also, don’t forget to exercise your dog regularly. A tired dog is a more content and less emotional dog. The more time you spend outside, the more energy you burn, and the less likely your dog is to misplace its energy.

Finally, this type of low self esteem can also be the result of problems within the pack. If you are fighting constantly with other family or house members in front of your pet, the stress can cause your dog to feel scared and alone. If you have to fight, fight more quietly or away from your dog, as the angry energy that comes from these loud noises can be harmful to your dog’s sensitive emotional balance.

Loving Your Dog

The affection your dog receives from love and play is more than enough to raise its self esteem. Dogs do not respond well to punishments, but they respond extremely well to praise and affection. Let you dog know how important it is, and your dog’s self esteem is sure to rise in no time.