You probably had no idea that your dog could actually struggle with something like a low self-esteem, but it’s very possible. Chances are you chalked their changed behavior up to poor/lack of training, but the truth is something could really be going on internally. As a responsible pet owner, it’s your job to know when something has gone awry with your pooch and get them help.

Tucking Their Tail

If your dog begins tucking his tail in between his legs, this could be a sign of low self-esteem. When the tail becomes tense and doesn’t move (like wagging), you should be aware. Your dog may be fearful or unsure of their surroundings such as when a storm is coming or a new person enters the home.

Droopy or Pinned Ears

Your dog’s ears can be a dead giveaway on how they’re feeling. Keep in mind that if your dog pins back their ears they could very well be happy and it may be accompanied by a wagging tail. However, if your dog has become nervous or upset their pinned back ears, stiff tail, or lack of movement may be a sign that they’re confidence is low.

A Shameful Head Bow

Confidence displays itself through body language. When you’re confident, you walk tall and keep your head held high. The same is true for dogs. A dog that feels inferior may keep their head low. A canine suffering from depression or low self-esteem may even stare at the ground.

Limited Eye Contact

Much like humans, to dogs, eye contact is a symbolism of confidence and dominance. So, if your pup feels inferior, afraid, or insecure you may find that they won’t look you in the eye. With their heads held low they will often try to avoid eye contact any way they can.

Biting

You may believe your dog is being disobedient or aggressive if they bite or nip at you, but the truth is they’re afraid of something. Unable to ask to be left alone they bite hoping you’ll back away until their fear or insecurities have subsided.

How to Boost Your Dog’s Confidence

If you’ve seen your dog act out the above behaviors you may be concerned about what you can do. Here are some great ideas on how to build confidence in your dog:

• Introduce new things slowly – New things aren’t always easy to adjust to. A dog that is shy or less confident needs a bit more time to adjust. So, when introducing new people or pets, take it one day at a time.
• Go for walks – This sounds like common advice, but walking does more than build strong bones and muscles for your dog. When they’re outside, they are exposed to different people, places, environments, sounds, and textures. Regular exposure reduces fears of the unknown and help boost their self-esteem.
• Training – Enrolling your dog in obedience or agility training are great ways to boost their confidence. The more skills they learn (and are rewarded for), the better they feel about themselves.

Low self-esteem in dogs is very real. When they feel inferior, fearful, insecure, or unsure of themselves, their surroundings, or circumstances, they behave in ways that are unusual. You may notice anything from cowering and head lowering to stiff tails and fearful biting. If your dog has displayed this behavior in any way, it is ideal to work with them to build their self-esteem. Keep in mind, it is a mind over matter concept so it will take time. As long as you’re patient and use the tips advised above, your dog will find their confidence.