Both Shyla and I have been having fun with training, strengthening some cues that Shyla knows well and starting a new one. Today, we played "find it", where I hid a stash of treats while Shyla was in a sit-stay and then released her to go find the stash. She sprinted toward the treats.
I started by teaching her to take an object from my hand and hold it in her mouth with the verbal cue "take it". Then, I gradually required her to hold it for longer until I clicked to tell her that she'd done the right thing. Next, after she took the object from my hand, I walked backward in an excited way, and she ran toward me with the object in her mouth. We're still working on having her hold the object until I ask her to put it my hand. As of today, she has about a 50% success rate for putting it in my hand (she drops at my feet in the other 50% of her retrieves).
The best part of it is that Shyla loves it! When I first tried a retrieving game with her back in September, she was apathetic. Seriously, she seemed like she didn't like being asked to retrieve. With our this fun training method, she's super enthusiastic. That's what positive training does!
Of course, we didn't just walk around the mall like normal people - we did our BAT training, letting Shyla get good looks at things that scared her (like a UPS guy pushing a huge cart of boxes) and then rewarding her by letting her briefly retreat from those things. This method really works because Shyla knows that she has a choice - we're not going to force her to face anything that she finds too scary. Moreover, she's naturally curious so she almost always wants to go back and look at the scary thing again after her brief break.
I was so proud of her. In general, she was curious and happy with bright eyes and happy body language at the mall. A few times, like when a bus made a loud sound at the same moment as a 3-year-old boy asked to pet her, we saw the fearful Shyla. But, we quickly walked her away from the hub-bub, played a few fun games, and she recovered very fast. Her fast recovery from fear is a good indicator that she's going to navigate our world with little fear someday.
If you'd asked me, back when I first met her in late August, if she'd walk around a mall relatively happily within a year, I would have been dubious. This courageous girl sure has exceeded my expectations!