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Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Prime of Life

Shyla has reached that magical age when she is so agile and fast that it awes me. When we were high in the mountains this summer, she'd often choose the toughest routes to get from one place to another. Who else but a 2-year-old dog would choose to go over (instead of around) these boulders?
And she makes it look easy as she hops from one to the next.
Around the house, when Shyla is in a hurry to get someplace, she goes over the furniture in a similar way. It makes us all laugh!

She's also been making huge strides with her confidence. Just recently, she had a great day in town with me, doing some shopping in dog-friendly stores that would have been too nerve-wracking for her just a short time ago. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that one observant gentleman quietly said "she's a tiny bit nervous for a Lab, isn't she?" He was right.) However, in almost every way, her burgeoning confidence is wonderful.
The only downside to her confidence is that she sometimes chooses to ignore my verbal commands when we're in her comfort zones - at home and out in nature. My trainer warned me that we might reach a phase like this, if Shyla became more comfortable with the world.

I think that Shyla used to obey me partly because she was afraid of the rest of the world. Now, that she feels invincible, I need to work on other sources of motivation.
I've never gone through this type of "teenage" behavior with a dog who is Shyla's age (the "teenage rebellion" is usually just before their first birthday). Usually, my dogs are pretty grown up and stable by her age. Have any of you experienced this with a mature underconfident dog?

I am forcing myself to go back to basics. We are practicing recalls and off-leash heeling intensively. I remind myself that Shyla's world view has changed dramatically - so I need to "re-teach" the basics so that she's motivated to do them within her new, more confident, world view.
In the meantime, I always remember that we are in Shyla's prime of life. I've been through the full lifetimes of enough dogs to know that I want to savor these days.
I'm also trying to be grateful that we've even reached this point - where Shyla is almost "too confident" in her comfort zones!


  1. You are such a graceful athlete, Shyla! Your mom is one of the smartest trainers we know!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  2. Shyla is rocking it!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley
    Check out: "On the Road To The Great Debate" starting Monday!

  3. We're so glad that your beautiful Shyla has matured into a confident adult. She's gorgeous!

  4. Amazing moves sweet Shyla! Oh, she must listen to you so back to basics is a great idea.

  5. We are so proud of Shyla! It is wonderful to see her confidence has bloomed! Prod went through a testing stage recently. I thought at about 3 it was late, but maybe too it is because after 2 years with us he feels confident.

  6. We are so proud of Shyla! It is wonderful to see her confidence has bloomed! Prod went through a testing stage recently. I thought at about 3 it was late, but maybe too it is because after 2 years with us he feels confident.

  7. While I wouldn't call it rebellion, Lucy has always been much more difficult to train than any dog we have had. She was always more self-confident and not as interested in pleasing us as our other dogs have been. At times, she has disobeyed a command so often it became corrupt so that we changed to another command for the same task. She has never read our signals as completely as our other dogs and we have to continually reinforce some issues.

  8. She's becoming confident in leaps and bounds...especially over rough terrain.

  9. Nola didn't "calm down" until a couple months before her 3rd birthday. She's a confident dog, but for her to actually heed my desires 99% of the time (no dog is 100%, IMO) it took that long. 2-5 is a magical age!

  10. Like doxies, rottweilers don't really "mature" until about 2 and a half or 3. They seem to "get it" until about 6 months and then the next two years is one long test. I'm pretty sure Otto's previous owner just couldn't handle the test phase and that's why he was an unclaimed stray. At any rate, it sounds like you're doing all the right stuff - back to basics - limits, no exceptions no - and in my case this is the hardest - falling for the 'cutest dog in the world EVER face.' Shyla's such a beauty!

  11. It's worth having to go back to the basics to have her more confident. Says I, who doesn't have to do the work. ;)

    I love those pictures of her going over the boulders.

  12. It's good that she feels so comfortable that her view of things has expanded.

    Monty and Harlow

  13. A wonderful post, and those teenage issues too are wonderful in their own way!

  14. I've found the ACDs to be headstrong (typical of the breed) so I know what you mean about not listening! Our lab Molly is also very bouncy and often jumps over other dogs and furniture. Maybe a lab thing?!

  15. She has really blossomed into a wonderful dog. Good job!

  16. Firstly, those eyes those Lab eyes ~ Shyla & Sophie are almost kindred in the eye department.
    Now for the confidence package, Sophie has always been an alpha dog ever since her first year at a daycare where she had to have the ball first, right!?!
    Recently though her confidence level has waned because of her surgery in July we think. She is quite jumpy and reaction so very quickly to the slightest noise, thus not able to relax.
    Maybe this is normal for a lab.
    She even gets upset with the neighbours 2 pups that are so noisy. She also seems to worry about the visitors at the vet. Looks like a lot of calming and re-assurance for our sweetie.
    Give SHyla a giant hug from us all.
    All the best!
    Ron Jim and Sophie

  17. She is beautiful in her graceful confidence.

  18. We love how far she has come....I have every confidence that you will get her where she needs to be in no time!
    Dory, Jakey, Arty & Bilbo


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