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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shyla's courage

This little girl continues to astound me. She's sensitive, loving, and incredibly smart (in my unbiased opinion).
After a morning hike in our forest, we headed into town for some training.
First, we met our trainer to walk around a park area, letting Shyla observe children, tennis players, a city bus, bike riders, geese, and all the other odd things that pop up in a town park. Our goal is to reward good and calm reactions to these relatively novel things. We don't want to "put Shyla over threshold" (i.e., get scared) so we tip-toe along a balance beam, gradually bringing her closer to novel things as she's able to handle it with a calm demeanor. My trainer is so good at reading Shyla's body language that she knows just when we've gone far enough. Believe me, we take baby steps each day, especially when it comes to exposure to children, but I'm truly seeing the progress that we're making.

I was thrilled with Shyla's calmness today in a setting that would have been very scary a month ago. So, at the end of our training session, I took her to a dog park with a small lake to let her celebrate. And, I discovered that Shyla has learned to swim very smoothly and efficiently, unlike her first attempts which involved lots of splashing a little forward motion. I wonder if she took secret swimming lessons?
She retrieved tennis balls from the lake.
And shook off water with that crazy look that dogs can get!
Afterwards, I did errands in town. At one point, I parked in front of a big pet store to go into some other nearby stores. When I came back to the car, I saw Shyla intently focused on the dogs who were going in and out of the pet store's automatic doors.

I saw a training opportunity because automatic doors have terrified Shyla in the past. I took her out of the car, and we watched numerous dogs walk through those automatic sliding doors. I gave Shyla treats each time the doors moved, and within minutes, she was doing her "relaxed tail wag" whenever a dog went through the doors. So, I ratcheted up my courage and waited for the next human/dog pair to walk toward the doors. When the next pair appeared, I walked Shyla through the doors right behind them.

She walked through those doors tall and proud, just like I promised she'd do someday! I was so happy to see that our slow and steady approach is working. The human world is becoming more manageable to Shyla each day.

I think that our girl, with this slow and steady approach, will undoubtedly learn that most of the world is a fun place before too long.

On a different note, several of you asked about the smoke plume from Rocky Mountain National Park that I showed yesterday. It's a wildfire of about 1000 acres that's only 30% contained. The good news is that there's snow in the forecast so that should help slow the fire.


  1. As the song says " Let it snow", and all over the 1000 acres, a huge area. Great news, Shyla, you are doing so well. Enjoy the water until it is too cold!! Greetings from Jean.

  2. The first and last photo says, "Yea mom I did it. You knew I could and I did." I have no doubt that your confidence in Shyla inspires her to step out and be brave.

  3. Shyla! We are SO proud of you! What a gal. I had to get my blood pressure taken at the vet yesterday, and I was freaked out so it made the reading high. The vet sent the blood pressure cuff home with mom thinking I'd be calmer at home. NOT!! That thing smells like scared dogs! Ruby smelled it and agrees. You, on the other hand are a very brave girl!!


  4. What a good job Shyla is doing with her training. She is becoming one brave girl. How wonderful that she finally went through those automatic doors with her head held high! Gosh she is doing so well swimming that she's right up there with R now. I love the pic of her swimming with the ball! Glad to hear there's going to be snow falling on that fire. :)

  5. I'm so glad to hear that Shyla is making such fantastic progress! I can only imagine how thrilled you are. Maybe she's been taking swimming lessons from R! ;)

  6. Congradulations to both of you with the sliding doors!!!

  7. You two are doing great together, and I am so very happy for both of you.

    Stella didn't want to go into stores the first time, but she did it once and now she wants to call at every store in our little town!
    She pulls me to the book store and the hardware store, and all. Then I take her to the Pup Store and she gets a treat to eat on the way home. (The other stores she just gets a look thru the glass!)


  8. Great progress in your training. We have training on Mondays with Trym and Vilja , the youngest. They are very learning...we are about 20 dogs there so social training they have a lot. But recalls home and in the forrest is still not working...

  9. Such a wonderful dog can achieve her potential only through a wonderful owner!

  10. Oh so happy for both you and Shyla!! I LOVE that "shaking" picture! They do look a bit crazed, don't they???

  11. Did you hear our applause, Shyla? We are so happy that you are conquering those automatic doors!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  12. That story brought tears to my because it reminds me of a scene from the FABULOUS movie "Temple Grandin", when she is able to walk through the automatic doors of a store with a little help from a stranger (she's autistic, and fearful of certain things); I always tear up at that scene...

  13. It is SUCH an amazing feeling to watch your dog do something-once so scary -with such ease and grace!! She is also gaining trust in you! I also love when dogs learn from watching other dogs!

    Way to go!

    Mamma Heartbeat

  14. I'm so proud of Shyla! Grreat job, girl!

  15. Oh, KB. I'm LOLing at the picture of her shaking...I just showed my room mate and she loved it too...

    I'm jealous of your girl!!!

  16. Ann....from...Outer Banks of NC....said .....I am so proud of all of you ....such great teamwork....HUGS

  17. I am not surprised at her progress - you are so good at doing what is necessary to raise your dogs and teach them. This is wonderful news!

    Yay Shyla! Yay you!

  18. So great to hear that Shyla's confidence continues to grow! You two are a great team!

  19. Steady and patient training pays off every time. How thrilling to know Shyla is feeling better and better about the things that used to frighten her.

  20. Oh, my! You had me on the edge of my seat with the automatic door! I'm so proud of Shyla!!! My goodness, how she's adapting!

  21. I knew letting her see other dogs going through the sliding doors would help her figure out they weren't dangerous. Next step. Have her watch (from a distance) a very child friendly dog play calm games with a well trained child.


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