Building Confidence

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The Building Confidence program is available in two different formats: as board and train, and virtually. We have limited program spots available each year and often a waitlist of several months. Reserve your training spot as early as possible. Details below.

Does your dog feel insecure, look nervous or bark out of fear? Is your dog afraid of loud noises? Concerned when seeing strangers? Scared of everything? Does your dog lose it when you leave the home? Or...? This program is about building confidence in your dog and resolving fear-based issues.

Fear and anxiety in dogs come in many forms. Fear can be related to people, things, sounds, sights, places, and so on. Anxiety from separation is another form, often found in rescued dogs. In response to fear, some dogs sniff the ground nervously, some run or hide, some dogs shake or cower, some pee and poop, some rollover and shut down, and some dogs become very aggressive or even attack and bite—all out of fear. It all depends on the circumstances, severity, and triggers a dog has. You can read more on the biology of fear in our article: Understanding Fear and Anxiety in Dogs.

Whatever your dog's particular fear triggers may be, living with a fearful dog is just not the same. You want to help your furry friend but progress has been slow and you're not really sure how to help better. By now you may consider resigning to the fact that your dog just is that way. Please don't. We can help you increase your dog's confidence. You will love seeing your dog feel better.

The Approach

Our methodical step-by-step approach goes straight to the root of the issue and helps your dog better deal with stress and all the things that cause fear. Our approach is based on scientific principles of affective neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. It helps your dog be more confident in life. We gradually reduce all levels of stress (see The Layered Stress Model) and help your furry family member enjoy life more. The following overview outlines the overall program structure for reducing fear. Phase two, Confidence Builder 2 is an additional add-on and uncommon. It is for the most insecure and fearful of dogs that can't get past critical insecurities. Confidence Builder 2 deals with effectively managing what can't be resolved.

Building Confidence

Confidence Building Training Levels

Our Confidence Builder 1 program is where all fearful dogs start. This program level lays a solid foundation to help build more confidence. It begins with the building blocks we need to put in place, to be able to help your dog become the best version of itself. You could compare it to learning the alphabet, before trying to read a book. We also build relevant skills and develop a biologically fulfilling rewards game to assist with learning and strengthening the relationship between you and your dog. For about 90% of dogs, this program level is sufficient to help them.

Our Confidence Builder 2 program builds upon the first level. It addresses the maintenance side of your dog's challenges. What we can't resolve in Confidence Builder 1, we will make as easily manageable as possible in Confidence Builder 2. We will teach your dog how to stay safe and get itself out of scary situations by trusting you instead of blowing up.

The Concept

One of the key concepts of canine learning in building confidence is: "success breeds more success". Why do police dogs not back down when they apprehend someone? What do they do if a suspect tries to kick them? They don't back down, they take the person down and won't stop until being told to. They built up hardness and resistance because during training they always won. It was consistently made harder for them to win but in the end, they always did. They have learned through success that they can handle anything.

Your dog is probably not a police dog but the principle is the same. By succeeding in overcoming a small element of their fear, they learn they can do it. It emboldens them to do it again faster next time and then take on larger and larger challenges as we progress. It takes experience to know how much to push your dog outside its comfort zone to make progress and not push too far to cause setbacks.

If you haven't by now, please review The Layered Stress Model and read our article on the biology of fear: Understanding Fear and Anxiety in Dogs. to gain a deeper understanding of what is going on in your dog's mind as it pertains to its fearful behavior.

Training Options

This obedience program is presently only available as a board and train program.

Board and Train (Confidence Builder 1): We do all the work for you and transition your dog into your home afterward. Your dog stays with us for 6-8 weeks, in the home of one of our trainers, not stowed away in a kennel. You also receive 1-2 training videos per week on our YouTube channel, so you can observe how your buddy is doing in training. Due to the nature of the training and the required transition, expect to come to visit your dog after a few weeks for hands-on participation. This program includes three virtual sessions after your dog returns back home.

Board and Train (Confidence Builder 2): training scope varies by dog.


Based out of Riverside County, Happy Dog Training offers a broad range of dog training and behavioral services. Our in-person and board and train services are available in Riverside County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County. In addition, Happy Dog Training offers coaching and virtual training services worldwide.
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