I'll admit that I hate seeing her regress like this. However, she's taught me some important lessons over the past nine months. The biggest one is that trying to "push through the fear" is not the right strategy. My personality is one that confronts tough things, and keeps confronting them until I conquer them. In the past, I've transferred that strategy to our dogs. It worked okay with our dogs, even if it was a tough-love approach, until I met K. K's fears were minor compared to Shyla's but confronting them was absolutely the wrong strategy. With the help of our great trainer, I learned about how to teach K to try new things by rewarding her for any sign of confidence.
With Shyla, the same lesson, that pushing her to confront scary things is a bad idea, has been cemented into place. Fortunately, training methods for fearful and reactive dogs have evolved hugely since the days when I was training K to cope with her fears. Everything needs to be at Shyla's pace, and she always is given a choice as to whether to approach something scary or not. So, even though I don't understand the reasons for Shyla's current setback, I do know that she needs to go slowly right now.
We're taking a little break from town training and letting Shyla live in the comfort of her home and our trails without the stress of town training for a little while. We skipped our training class today to enjoy the mountains and the wildflowers.
I guess that you could say that we're taking the time to smell the flowers while Shyla chills out before our next visit to town!
Thank goodness that we both love nature so very much, providing us with refuge from the bustling insanity of the human world.
P.S. I found evidence today that Milton is still here (albeit limping). There may be some conflict underway, between limping Milton and the stronger new male bear. More soon....