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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Shyla in the forest

Shyla is continuing to make huge strides with our new training. To be honest, it's not really all that "new" - it's primarily that my trainer reminded me that Shyla is so sensitive that she needs me to focus on reinforcing good behavior rather than reprimanding her for "bad" behavior. Otherwise, her fearfulness dominates her personality, making her more prone to misbehave.

So, I continue to act like it is tons of fun when she finds random wildlife body parts in the forest. I don't mind the hooves and foot bones as much as other parts. Shyla seems to find an incredible number of hooves next to the trails.
At the start of each ride, to prime Shyla's state of mind, we've been doing fun tricks. Shyla loves to add a tongue flick to "waving", which always makes me laugh. But, I do remind myself that tongue flicks are a sign of low-level stress. She usually stops tongue flicking after a few well-rewarded waves.
Another "trick" that Shyla loves is picking up things that I drop. This morning, she "found" my neck warmer that I'd dropped on the trail (yes, it was cold enough for me to wear full winter gear!).
This is a skill that I've been grateful for quite a few times this summer. I've had a few severe exacerbations of my spine pain, during which it is agonizing to pick up items from the ground. At those times, I am so glad that Shyla adores picking up things that I drop. When Shyla hears something hit the floor or ground, she comes running, hoping to have the chance to pick it up for me. What a wonderful girl!

In general, with the change in my approach to training, Shyla is behaving about a zillion times better when she's off-leash than she did a few weeks ago. It shows me how much my "attitude" affects her behavior. Reinforcing good behavior is much more fun than reprimanding bad behavior for me too so it's a win-win situation.

I know how much wildlife is around, so her re-found love of staying close to me in the forest is a huge relief. To emphasize the wildlife being all around us, my wildlife camera captured photos of a coyote right next to a mountain biking trail that we use regularly. In terms of my dogs' safety, coyotes scare me more than any other animal. I am thrilled that coyotes are flourishing but I am very cautious about my dogs encountering them.
Isn't that a handsome coyote? I think so but I hope that my dogs never tangle with him and his pack-mates.


  1. the coyote is really beautiful. i, too, worry about my dogs engaging with them. they will take down a dog, working in tandem. and they're very bold in daylight and around people, too.

    glad shyla is working well with you!

  2. The Coyote fur looks like the falling colors of the leaves.
    Shyla as always is a sweet heart.

    xo Cinnamon

  3. The coyote is handsome! Faolan and Shyla seem very similar in their personalities. I am glad to hear she is doing well.

  4. So wonderful to hear of Shyla's progress!! Also love the coyote shot!! Just love your trail cameras!!

  5. He is way beautiful. And what a comfort to know that Shyla enjoys being close to you on the trail.

  6. Yes, gorgeous coyote. And I'm glad things are going so well with Shyla.

  7. What a sweet girl. We're afraid around here if something drops it becomes a chasing game...

  8. Glad we don't have any tricksters around like the picture. Very pretty, but I can understand your waryness!

    Shyla is just sweeter and better every day. How is Prince Arrr?


  9. You are such a good helper and the sweetest girl ever, Shyla ☺

  10. So are the coyotes in the wilderness near you just as bold as suburban coyotes? I would have thought they would be more flighty and less apt to tangle with a human. Fortunately Shyla is not a small dog.

    On my walk yesterday morning, I saw one of our many neighborhood foxes go barreling across the path in front of us with something pretty big(in comparison to the fox's mouth that is) in its mouth. The fox had come from the backyard of someone who owns a tiny Yorkie and I was hoping he had not snagged their pup. While the fox poses no risk to my corgis (other than luring them on a good long chase), he is the top predator here and will snag squirrels, groundhogs, snakes, and also cats! So a small Yorkie is probably in danger.

  11. That is indeed a beautiful coyote!!


  12. Coyotes worry me the most too. They are great to listen to, in the distance. And how awesome she picks up stuff for you.

  13. Oh Shyla you are one smart cookie
    Lily & Edward

  14. You are beautiful and amazing sweet Shyla!

  15. We did not know that about the tongue flick - good thing to watch for, especially with my anxious girl Ciara. Rewarding the positive rather than reprimanding the negative is a great training tool for humans pups too:)

  16. Lots of hooves, how interesting! Yes, that coyote looks kind of serious. We love Shyla's wave!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  17. Hi Y'all!

    We have coyotes here and they are killers. A neighbor had to sell his sheep because coyotes were killing them. A couple of people who had chickens and sold eggs at farmers market lost their chickens to coyotes. Don't know if the local bobcats and panthers would kill chickens?

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  18. Shyla,, you are so smart!! Look at you helping your mom by picking up things for her!!
    The coyote-- wow- what an amazing photo!

  19. SO happy to hear how well Shyla is doing. Agreed, a handsome coyote! We heard them for the first time the other night. None of the dogs reacted. I was surprised.

  20. What a good reminder about positivity in training! Catch them doing good and reward! Your photos are stunning!


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