How to boost your dog's confidence
Dogs are naturally sociable animals; their understanding of their world is based upon a social position within a hierarchical pack. Some dogs are dominant, others will be submissive and both will behave according to its position. Your family group is basically a pack scenario to Fido. Whilst you really don't want him to be top dog, nor do you want him to be so submissive that he spontaneous urinates to try and grovel for you. In this latter scenario Fido's confidence is definitely requiring a boost!
Dog Training Activities
Exercise, is a great reliever of stress. Agility training can be a good form of this as it improves social interaction and gives opportunities for coaxing with the right amount of praise and treats. It's not necessary to invest in a set of expensive equipment for this; it's possible to improvise with household items. Even basic obedience training where good behavior is rewarded and negative behavior ignored can work wonders. Set aside regular times with your dog: at least 30 minutes, in 10 to 15minute bursts.
Shy of People?
If dog is nervous around people, have a friend help out with gradual desensitization. The friend should not make any bold moves: basically anything that might appear potentially threatening to the dog, particularly do not look the dog directly in the eye. Slowly allow the dog to investigate the friend, with the aid of treats held in the hand, use a low stance, and a calm and measured tone of voice. Once the friend can look directly at the dog without any adverse reaction, then physical contact can be made via petting, such as gently rubbing the chest. Attending classes in obedience and agility are also a good way to stimulate social interaction with other dogs and owners
Good Owner Behavior
However, all this will be as naught if you do not recognise your own bad behavior. A dog is a dog; Fido cannot be blamed for raiding the bin if you leave the lid off. Do not blame Fido for chewing your favourite shoes if you leave them where he can get at them. Also be aware that dogs communicate strongly through body language: upright postures are read as very domineering, so get down to Fido's level. Always talk in calm and measured tones as extremes pitch are upsetting for sensitive dogs. Above all, never be abusive: if you don't like to be beaten and shouted at, imagine how it feels to poor old Fido!
Never be abusive to your dog as a method of teaching (or at any other time), as this type of treatment may have lead to confidence problems in the first place. In many ways, dogs are similar to children. Confidence in dogs comes with praise and gentle instruction. Follow this method and your dog will definitely feel much better about his life, and your house won't smell quite so bad!