Photos and text copyright Romping and Rolling in the Rockies 2009-2017.

All photographs and text within this blog are copyrighted.

You may not copy or repost any photos or text without specific permission from the author of this blog. When in doubt, please ask.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The "Incident"

Shyla and I are still working away at teaching her about all the crazy things that a dog might encounter in the human world. Shyla is completely comfortable at home, in our forest, and anyplace rural. However, the bustle of human activity can throw her for a loop.
Since I never take photos of her during our training (I have to completely focus on the training), I'll pepper this post with photos from our outing in the snow today).
Just after Thanksgiving, Shyla had made huge progress since her arrival, and I could take her almost anyplace in town without her becoming scared. Indeed, I told our trainer that we might not need private lessons anymore. I thought that Shyla and I could do the "socialization" training on our own and attend a group class weekly.
But then, we had an "incident" just after Thanksgiving. I took Shyla to the vet for an xray of her ulna. We arrived in the parking lot, a busy lot next to a noisy road with lots of cars. As Shyla exited the car, a person and dog came out of the vet clinic. For some reason that I cannot fathom, that dog was not on a leash. The dog made a beeline for Shyla and "attacked" her, making lots of scary noises and laying his teeth on her. The person came over and pulled him off, saying in a bored tone "Don't worry - he does that all the time". Shyla was not physically hurt.
I wanted to yell at the person about using a leash, especially for a dog who attacks other dogs "all the time", but I knew that Shyla was watching me closely. I needed to act calm to try to prevent any new fears from blossoming in Shyla's mind. So, I saved my complaints for the vet who promised to speak to that client about the leash rule.
Here's the part that seems the oddest to me. My trainer and I thought that Shyla might develop a fear of dogs due to that scary experience so we arranged for her to meet some nice dogs right away. Indeed, she was slightly timid with the nice canines at first but seemed to forget any worries about dogs pretty quickly. I'm guessing that she's had a lifetime of good experiences with dogs so she didn't generalize that all dogs were scary.

But, she retained a fear of parking lots and traffic sounds. Isn't that odd from a human perspective? Because the incident happened in a parking lot next to a loud road, Shyla gets scared in any parking lot and near any traffic noise. Yet, to my surprise, dogs don't scare her. I'm guessing that, because she has little experience with the bustle of the human world, she decided to blame the scary incident on the unfamiliar parts of the scene.
My trainer and I have now spent 4 sessions in a row very gradually reintroducing Shyla to traffic and parking lots. We've very gradually increased the intensity of the "stimulus" (i.e., traffic) by starting in quiet places and working up to busier places.

I'm happy to report that Shyla is, slowly but surely, rebounding from the incident in the vet's parking lot. We still can't visit all the places that we did before the "incident" (because they're too scary for Shyla) but we're gradually getting there. It's all part of the journey, not a journey that I expected, but one that is building a strong bond between Shyla and me.
Now, on a lighter note, I've concluded that Shyla does the best Santa Paws impersonation of any Lab I've seen before. How about that white beard?


  1. animal behavior is articulate it so well, Shyla, shy girl, is lucky to have such a intuitive owner!
    we are expecting a foot of snow excited!

  2. I love the pics!

    Poor Shyla! It's so incredibly frustrating when one incident ruins weeks and months of work.
    Nola had a similar experience of being "attacked" (not physically hurt) twice by a golden retriever, and she's now terrified of any big, light colored dog. It's very sad, and very frustrating.

    Do you use the Look At That game (LAT)? Or do you use BAT (Behavioral Adjustment Training)? Nola is mildly shy, and I've used both methods with her with great success.

    Nola's Mom

  3. Elf Shyla, we LOVE that name Khyra! She looks like she dove head first into a yummy ice cream cone. Just beautiful.

    We're sorry that some knucklehead let their dog do that to Shyla. I really do hope the Vet does talk to that person.

    Lily Belle

  4. All the pics of our girl are just wonderful! I especially like that very last one, where she has the silly snow beard on and yet giving you this very serious look.

    The no-leash guy? Just the worst in my book, and the second worst is the guy who allows small kids to walk dogs on leashes when the kids aren't strong enough and the dogs not well trained.

    Cheers to Shyla and R!

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  5. Shyla just keeps getting more beautiful. You can see her silly yet serious personality in those last pictures.

    It's interesting how the "setbacks" are reinforcing the bond that you two are developing. Glad Shyla was not injured in the situation.
    As for the guy and the lack of leash on his dog...sometimes you just can't fix stupid can you?!?!?

  6. Just love the pictures especially the Santa beard one.
    Not so impressed with the person who has their dog off lead at the vets and am a little bit ashamed because I don't always have Bert on lead.
    This was an excellent reminder to me of how my behavior can affect others and their dogs.
    I'll be better
    Bert's My Vickie

  7. Ha ha ha! All she needs is a hat and nobody will know that she's NOT Santa!

    You know, I'm not surprised by that whole scenario. Bunny had a similar reaction when we were away on vacation last year. We were walking down the street past a beer truck. As we walked past, something inside the truck fell over, and I have to admit that it was loud and it surprised me, too. But there also happened to be a loud truck going by at the same time. For a long time after that, the sound of a loud truck or motorcycle engine made her nervous. Fortunately, it isn't something that has lasted a really long time, but I've always wondered about that association in her head!

  8. She is indeed the best Santa Paws in the furs for sure. She love her snow doesn't she?

  9. Wonderful pictures...what a snow girl!


  10. You look cute wiff all that snow on your nose!

  11. Shyla is so cute with that snow on her chin. It is so frustrating when idiots ruin all the hard work you have put into helping Shyla learn about the world. At least she has a very dedicated and loving mom to help her along.


  12. Shyla you are the cutest Santa Paws ever! People who don't leash their pets really get me going. Sasha is kind of nervous and very protective of me and when a dog comes near without a leash and she is on leash she gets so upset and ready to attack. If both are on leashes somehow she feels more at ease. I hope Shyla can forget the "incident" soon.

    Anne and Sasha

  13. Woof! Woof! I had those incidents just very irresponsible owners. My mom gets very frustrated.
    Love the photos as always. We are taking a blog break and wishing you Happy Holiday. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  14. Shyla's snow beard is adorable!

    It is extremely frustrating to me that an owner can be like that. If your dog does that "all the time", then KEEP HIM FROM DOING IT! STOP IT! Seriously. One of these days, he's going to try to do it to a dog who isn't going to take too kindly, and then said owner will be extremely dismayed rather than bored. Ugh.

    Shyla's so lucky to have you!

  15. Shyla so loves the snow, had she been in snow before coming to you?And the incident,she is adjusting so well to so many new places and noises, it will all be second nature before too long. Cheers from Jean.p.s. Beautiful photos!!

  16. Shyla has BEAUTIFUL features!! She gets prettier each day! I'm so sorry she had to deal with the dog that was "off Leash". That is just totally uncalled for. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom of animals with all of us!! xo Jeanne

  17. Hi KB - I am so sorry that the owner of that dog was not more responsible. Sadly there are many dog owners who do the same thing and think nothing of it! Seriously? But oh how I love these pics of Santa Paws Shyla - you can tell how much she loves the snow :):) I hope we get some snow here in Maryland this year - my favorite thing in the world is to watch Indy in the snow, he loves it so much.

    Blessings to you all,


  18. I totally understand your frustrations, we too have experienced the no-leash/no-control dogs too many times. Callie is a DINOS and will fight. Our boy Forest is very scared of busy places and I find that having another of the pack with him helps a lot.

    We hope you are feeling better soon. Like you, we find that a hike in the wilderness, regardless of weather does wonders for clearing the cobwebs!

  19. Love the second picture! So flirtatious :) I agree with Jen above - if that dog did that to my Josey it wouldn't be pretty. She doesn't give a flip about other dogs, and prefers to ignore them and that they ignore her. She would never START a fight, but she sure would finish one, lol!

  20. Oooh, that owner needs to be bitten! If you know your dog does that to other dogs, even if it doesn't hurt them, then you need to take steps to stop it! Even if YOUR dog is just playing, the OTHER dog might attack it in response and seriously hurt yours! Grrrr. That makes me so angry.

    I'm sorry Shyla got so skeered, but at least she has you to help her through it!

  21. I think your girl is definitely in love with snow! Love the beard!

    I am disgusted with that client. Usually the vet is the one place where the leash rule is strictly enforced. Shame on the vet, shame on the owner of that dog that allows that kind of behavior. Sorry that took Shyla a few steps back in her training, but I have no doubt she'll rebound from it with your patient, consistent training!

  22. Shyla looks so cute with her snowy face! You are the best about helping her with scary stuff. We run into people like that guy all the time. Very unfortunate.

    Susan and Wrigs

  23. You have a lot of patience. Momma would have yelled HBO words at that irresponsible human. Shyla is such a good and intelligent pup
    Benny & Lily

  24. Shyla is so lucky to have you, KB and you make the perfect Santa Paws, Shyla!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  25. Just wondering whether you're familiar with any of Temple Grandin's writings about how animals perceive the world about them? There could be some interesting answers there.

  26. Hi KB, I hope you are staying warm today-it is so cold down here on the plains. I do imagine you got so much more snow than we did; the blizzard did not develop as forecasters said it would.
    Hunter has had similar experiences with large dogs-and I will tell you that it makes me so mad when people can't/won't control their dogs. I haven't yelled at anyone but sure have given some strong words to those owners. In Hunter's obedience class we train with a German Shepherd and a Lab and he loves them; sometimes they get too rambunctious for him but he is learning to deal with them. Glad Shyla is getting over her fear and that you are working on parking lots etc. Enjoy your romps in the snow my friend. Hugs today.

  27. That is very interesting. They always see things much differently then we do don't they.

    Love her little beard :)

  28. Having had several horses and dogs, I truly appreciate that they do see things differently, and do make some interesting associations. You handled the situation in the vet's parking lot so well. I think I would have lost it.
    As for Shyla, she really does make the cutest Santa Paws!!!

  29. Shyla looks so cute with snowy whiskers!

    I was reminded of many incidents with the various foster children I took in over the years as I read about this experience. I think you're absolutely right; they tend to blame the unfamiliar for the unpleasant. Good though that she knows dogs (most of them, anyway) are good, and that traffic is bad. I can't say I'd disagree with that!!!

  30. Very qute pictures especially the beard one :
    Shyla is such a qutie....

  31. Love these snow pictures of Shyla. I think I could use some tips from you to help work our Bella into liking other doggies outside her home. She sort of goes Cujo on us sometimes. We hope Shyla over comes her fears she is just beautiful. Sniffs, The HoundDogs

  32. I HATE humans at times. My poor boy has been attacked 14 times and each time the owner has known their dog is aggressive AND doesn't think they need a leash for it.

    Anyway about developing the fear of parking lots. Patrisha McConnell tells a story about an entomologist who was hit by a car and the only thing he remembers from the incident were which bugs were squashed on the bumper of the car that hit him. Your brain does weird things in times of danger.

  33. Oh, she is such a beautiful puppy! Man, what is it with people and lunging unleashed dogs and the "he/she does that all the time." I'm so tired of hearing that ALL THE TIME.

  34. Love the snow beard :)

    Stop on by for a visit


If you are a Blogger registered user, you can skip the step asking you to verify that you are not a spammer. For posts older than 5 days, I have comment moderation turned on.

Thanks for your comments!!!!!