I enjoy teaching Shyla tricks. A silly trick that we practice is her balancing a treat on her nose, tossing it in the air, and then catching it. Just today, she seemed to figure out how to toss it so that she could catch it.
I immediately realized that this might be a tough class for my sensitive Shyla. I decided to focus only on keeping her calm and confident despite a chaotic scene that would have provoked Shyla to melt down just a year ago.
I was SO happy when she maintained her cool for the whole class. I took her for frequent breaks - short walks away from the group - to let her decompress.
Much to my utter happiness, Shyla chose the coping strategy of making very frequent eye contact with me. She'd swivel to check out the general chaos in the park, and then she'd bring her eyes back to mine. I felt as if I'd become her trustworthy rock, in the midst of the swirling insanity of humanity on a spring weekend.
I believe that all the little stuff that we've done together led Shyla to be able to cope with that scene. All the trick training, basic obedience training, socialization, and just being best friends culminated in her trusting me to help her through that class.