I have been continuing the rewarding process of socializing Shyla. Since I never take out my camera in town when we are doing our training, I'll pepper this post with some photos taken near our home.
When I first saw the scene, I almost turned out of the parking lot and went someplace else. However, my trainer's advice has been to start challenging Shyla more. Shyla now trusts me enough that she bounces back rapidly after "losing it" in a fit of fear. A "fear fit" consists of darting movements, lowering her body, pinning her ears back, and hiding behind me. Fortunately, Shyla doesn't seem to have an aggressive bone in her body. Many dogs handle fear by being aggressive. Instead, Shyla shrinks and tries to be invisible.
BAT techniques to let Shyla control how fast we approached. Believe it or not, we reached a point where we walked into the middle of the mayhem, ever so briefly, and Shyla was FINE!!! It was a proud moment.
Due to successes like that one, I find myself occasionally forgetting about Shyla's sensitivities. Yesterday, we went to a dog training class in town - and Shyla was a star. We attend the classes for socialization (the class is held in outdoor locations around town) - and Shyla was exuberant despite lots of potentially scary things like a rowdy off-leash dog (not from the class) who charged her.
After her happy-go-lucky demeanor in class, I swung by the vet's office to weigh Shyla - and she seemed happy to visit the office. Then, I decided to do a quick errand at a dog-friendly hardware store. I took Shyla in with me but forgot about her "issues" as I grabbed a few items quickly. As I shopped, she became skittish and scared. In my rush, I'd accidentally taken her too close to loud children, hand carts, and other scary things. My mistake... After I realized my error, I felt that I'd put her too far "over threshold" to make it into a good experience so I simply ran her to the car and forgot about the shopping.
I'm now fairly sure that Shyla will never be "bomb-proof" in town. I'll always need to be aware of her demeanor and how she's reacting to the world. However, she's come an incredible distance since I met her. Sometimes, strangers can't tell that she's a sensitive/fearful dog. In contrast, 9 months ago, everyone who met her could tell that I was rehabilitating a fearful dog.
It certainly has driven home the importance of socialization as a young puppy. We systematically socialized all of our previous puppies, and they have all been able to handle the bustle of town without problems. That includes R, who only visits town occasionally but handles it without a hitch every time.