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Friday, November 2, 2012

More Shyla Training

Shyla and I have been continuing her training. She learns faster than any dog that I've trained before. Of course, I'm a more experienced trainer than in the past but I think that there's something special about Shyla. She has an incredible combination of brains, calmness, and focus on me that lets her learn quickly.
We do a lot of our training during our morning hikes. Here, Shyla did a down-stay on the base of K's Rock.
If you look closely, she was also doing a "leave it". I balanced a super-yummy salmon treat on her paw, and I told her to "leave it" until I gave her permission to eat it. This was the first time that I ever tried such a tough "leave it" with her, and she aced it!
Next, we worked on a cue that I call "relax", which means to lie on your side and stay still. I started teaching "relax" to Shyla due to a not-so-great vet visit the other day. Shyla generally loves going to our vet hospital. But, this week, the vet needed Shyla to lie on her side for an exam for the first time. I wasn't present (although I wanted to be - but the exam was in a room that "clients" are not allowed in). Afterwards, I found out that Shyla submissively urinated each time the vet and techs tried to get her on her side.

So, I decided that it was time to make lying on her side fun. Shyla learned how to do "relax" in about 5 minutes, and I rewarded her lavishly each time she did it. She was almost throwing herself onto her side after a few minutes of training. I'm sure that it will take a lot of practice for her to "relax" in all sorts of environments (like at the vet) or with excitement going on around her. But, this morning, she learned how to "relax" in our meadow. I was astounded that Shyla learned it well enough to let me back away and take a photo in our very first session!
Of course, R is the master of "relax". He'll do it anytime and anyplace! Today, he "relaxed" on top of Hug Hill. This fall, he "relaxed" so well that the vets could do an echocardiogram without restraining him at all.
Training R is very different from training Shyla. He's so high-drive that I have to focus on keeping him calm enough to learn (and I'm not always successful). But, when he has learned something, he throws his whole soul into doing whatever it is.
After my "dog time" this morning, I had a peaceful bike ride. I spotted a beautiful spot on the floor of the forest. A golden aspen leaf resting on a bed of moss had emerged from under the snow.
It reminded me to enjoy these mild autumn days that we're having right now. Winter will certainly reign very soon!


  1. It is just so fun to hear about Shyla and R's learning. They are both simply amazing pups and a joy to see what you can get them to do.


  2. It is amazing how fast Shyla learns. MOM does the leave it with me also. I am pretty good at it. But today MOM went to far. I was with her at work. She set a treat in front of me and asked me lay down and leave it. I did. Just a few seconds later someone came into her office, asked something, and MOM went into the sanctuary with the person. About 15 or 20 minuets later she cam back in and there I was just laying there staring at my treat. She felt so bad for letting me stay like that for so long, but was very proud that I had just stayed there. I got extra treats for that one.
    Love the aspen leaf, it says a lot.

  3. Not only do I love seeing the dogs, that lichen is pretty special too. I would do leave it with Breezy too - it's an invaluable command.

  4. That is a great thing to train them for. Tomorrow Bert and I are going to work on that. We love it when you guide us through this.

    I get lazy and don't train like I should and Bert really likes the training.

    You guys inspire me to work harder.

    My Vickie

  5. A vet that doesn't let you see the exam? I'm not sure what to think of that. Poor gal, she'll grow out of it soon.


  6. You are doing a fantastic job training Shyla! We are all very impressed. (I still say, you need to take Lily and Muffin and train my 2 for me. Ha!)


  7. You can tell just by looking at her how eager she is to learn
    Benny & Lily

  8. Ann....from....Outer Banks of NC...said......From my heart to yours......what beautiful children (pups)so adorable....and I love watching and hearing about their just blooms in every corner...the Snow on the Mountains/ Shyla's and R's face..... is just heavenly .....HUGS

  9. The peek into your training and learning philosophy is a gift. Thanks. And thanks, too, for that very special last photo.

  10. Mom says we're putting Molly on the first plane heading to your house! We wish she was half as smart as Shyla is!
    We are so very proud of you, Shyla!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  11. Don't you love having dogs with different styles of learning, though? I think it makes training a lot more fun, because it makes ME think a little more. And I'm laughing now as I envision R learning "relax" while Shyla's working with that clicker! I don't know if you've ever read the blog Wild Dingo, but she has a training style with her two dogs that cracks me up. A couple of years ago she did some videos of their training. She manages to get one of them in a down stay while she's practicing other stuff with the other one. It fascinates me! Anyway, I'm glad to hear that Shyla is doing so well. I really believe that she was meant to be with you! :)

  12. I burst out laughing reading the part about learning to "relax" with Shyla...throwing herself funny. Thanks for this idea...much appreciated.

  13. Interesting to read about your training....relax I havent tried..really nice dark eyes R has.

  14. "Relax" is pretty amazing! I probably ought to work on a thing like that for Elka; relaxing is a useful skill to have.

    It could be that I'm used to looking for them (with as many Dobermans as I look at!) but does Shyla have lighter markings on her legs?

  15. I have the same problem training Dexter. Focus! He throws himself into his training sessions. Relax is a very useful command. Not sure we're ready for that one yet.

    Mango Momma

  16. It's so fascinating - working with their different personalities. Love the photo of R flat out on the rocks.

  17. Thanks for the training tips-I can only hope to get Hunter to this advanced level. My brother told me that a big storm is headed this way in another week or so-I'm not ready yet, still like the autumn weather.
    Hugs, Noreen

  18. Hi again, I just have to say you must carry treats with you all the time. Hunter would be great if I kept them on me continually but sometimes it is easier not too. I love visiting KB.


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