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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Duo and Shyla

I love the days when I get the Duo together for our evening hike.
Shyla and R are fabulous friends. They play and play and play. However, as I mentioned before, sometimes Shyla is too rambunctious for R's taste. I've realized that all the dogs who R has lived with before have been very gentle during play, and he's been the rambunctious one. I'm not sure that he's ever met a dog who plays as wildly as Shyla.

He hasn't set ground rules about playing intensity for Shyla yet. So, I interrupt them, and have them doing a little obedience practice whenever R starts acting reticent about play. Interestingly, R did set the rules about a tennis ball that he was holding. When Shyla tried to take it from him, I heard a low rumble of a growl from R, and Shyla quickly retreated to the other side of the room, leaving R to enjoy his tennis ball. That tells me that R will set the rules about things that are important to him, and Shyla will follow them.
Shyla has become extraordinarily competitive about recalls when we practice them during our hikes. I always start the Duo in a sit-stay, and then I go a distance away to call them. Until recently, R won almost every recall race to me. Now, Shyla has become obsessed with getting to me first, and she's usually successful.

This was just after I'd called them. Shyla was a little faster out of the blocks.
Shyla kept her lead, and looked kind of surprised about it!
But then, R turned on the turbo chargers as they went around a curve to follow the packed trail to me. Both dogs are in this photo. R is directly behind Shyla. You can barely see his black paw.
I'm not sure how this happened after they'd been neck-and-neck just a few strides earlier... but Shyla made it to me first.
We think that the reason for Shyla's success is that she's young and naive. Today, I did a quick calculation that R has probably practiced at least 10,000 recalls in his life. So, it's not quite as exciting for him as it is for Shyla!

We will keep practicing recalls for our dogs' entire lifetimes. Because recalls are so important to their safety, the dogs always get an amazing jackpot of treats for a fast and enthusiastic recall. For other behaviors - like sit, stay, down, and other basics - we fade the treats with time. Both dogs only occasionally get rewarded with treats for those behaviors. But they always get praise!
I want to lay out a few March training goals for Shyla. I want to teach her to cover her eyes with a paw, to rest her snout on my knee when I'm sitting, and to "shake" (as if she's getting water off of herself). I also plan to continue socialization training with 2-4 trips to new places each week. I won't make any specific goals for that part of Shyla's training. It's up to her how fast or slow it goes.

Our last two socialization training sessions have gone, for the most part, extremely well - after she had such a dramatic setback post-spaying a few weeks ago. I'm certain that there will be more backward steps in our future because that's how this process goes, according to people more experienced than me. But it doesn't matter in the big picture - I love this girl for who she is, no matter whether she acts fearful or outgoing.
As I've thought about her, I've realized that simple things in life require tremendous courage from Shyla. Even on the days that I perceive that she's fearful, she has the courage to walk next to me through the crazy human world. I've started thinking of her as "Courageous Shyla", no matter how her training is going.


  1. I know you didn't always feel this way, but I think you and Shyla were meant for each other. I know you work hard with them, but how fortunate you have been to have three such amazing dogs in your life. (And of course, I knew none of the others!)

    Cheers and hugs,


  2. Your last paragraph brings tears to my eyes because it is so loving and beautiful. Shows how special you are that you can recognize how special Shyla is.

  3. I love your last paragraph.

    I agree, recall is the only thing I always, always reward with food. Always. It's so important!

    I'll be teaching Nola to cover her eyes, too!

    Nola's Mom

  4. Hi Y'all,

    What wonderful recall pics y'all got!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  5. Bart does the low-growl with Otto who responds instantly! I love it :-)

  6. Oh how I love seeing the duo together. And what an amazing photo where Shyla almost eclipses R. Shyla is a courageous girl for sure. You are a part of that courage she has. You have given her the confidence and love she needed to bring out who she recall is and who she longs to be.

  7. I'm a newbie to your blog - so I don't know much history here, but I think your post is very heartwarming and inspiring.

  8. You are so right about recalls being a lifelong practice need; they are so critical. It is wonderful to see the respect you show to both R and Shyla. Momma believes that is one of the most important parts of success in training.

  9. Beautiful post in pictures and in words.


  10. Do you know what? Just as Shyla is becoming more beautiful- I see that R is getting more magnificent looking !

  11. The duo are both beautiful in their own way! When I read the part about the tennis ball, it reminds me of how Chloe puts LadyBug in place with a few low growls...withoutva word from me. They seem to speak their own do yours! The language of love!

  12. They are both fabulous and energetic! I'm sure they really enjoy their training with you! They are the best of buddies ever! We are excited for their next adventure! :D
    Pet Supplies

  13. Those pictures are incredible! She certainly doesn't let R mask her personality or enthusiasm. I always find that chemistry between two individuals interesting. It sounds like R has had some great teachers and is now passing things on to Shyla.

  14. Beautiful photos--it's wonderful seeing R and Shyla racing through the snow together. It looks like R is feeling great! Are any further diagnostics being pursued for him, or are you just going to continue to monitor his blood values? I admire your commitment and dedication to training!

    Susan and Wrigs

  15. We love seeing the duo romping around together. Way to go Shyla for winning (but we think R did that on purpose...)

    Wish I could teach some of my humans how to get along that well.

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  16. Love your outlook..shy dogs aren't crippled by their shyness, we just have to figure how to work with it.

  17. What joy to see the pwogwess Shyla is making and how W lets hew. As aways, we awe filled wif awe at the wondewful life you give yoow doggies wif love and patience and teachings
    Smoochie kisses

  18. Ann from Outer Banks of NC .......these pictures of R and Shyla are such a seeing them have so much fun together.....HUGS

  19. Isn't it wonderful when the dogs mix so well together. R has grown up so much. Shyla and Lightning have a lot of similar traits, especially when it comes to fear of new things.

    Hope your wrists are doing better.

  20. REALLY enjoy this blog; the pictures, your (pain) challenges in life and in training the dogs and your weather! Just wanted you to know.

  21. Love the pictures with the duo. R is so handsome guy......

  22. I feel R's pain with the overly eager Shyla. Our granddog has been with us for four nights and entering our fourth day. Dex gets tired of his constant desire to play and has started presenting a stiff body and some growling. Oblivious Oliver keeps his distance...... for about ten seconds.

    Mango Momma

  23. "Shake" is always one of the first useful "tricks" I teach my dogs. Really cuts down on towel laundry here in the northeast ;) I use a hand signal of holding my hand out level, with fingers spread out, and then quickly wobbling my whole hand side-to-side twice.

  24. I love your photos. You capture a special quality in the photos you take. Your scenic photos are awesome too.

    Love photos of Shyla and R together!

    Thank you so much for sharing.


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