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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Modifying Shyla's Training for my Spine

Training our Duo is one thing that has fallen off my radar since my spine pain became so bad. Finally, today, I started thinking about how I can modify our training games to make them possible for me to do despite my pain and lack of flexibility. I think it's possible, even though I truly do wish that I could play with the pups like before.

We have played a few little training games. In this example, I asked Shyla to rest her chin on her toy so I could get a photo or two for a photo challenge.
Shyla is such an experienced model for me that she peeks at me after a few shutter clicks to see if I'm pleased with what she's doing.
If she's unsure because I didn't communicate well enough, she tries out a slightly different look - looking off into the distance.
That little game didn't require any physical effort on my part, and we both had fun.

In other outdoor training games, I have to figure out alternatives to playing tug to reward her. The advantage to playing tug with a dog like Shyla is that it builds her confidence and drive.

We started a training game today with me simply rewarding her with treats. That has the upside of no physical strain on my spine but it doesn't get Shyla as excited about training as playing does.

To add playing to our repertoire, I'm thinking of trying very small tosses of a toy for her to retrieve as a reward for a job well done. That will rev up her excitement for training while hopefully not hurting me. It seems worth a try.

In any case, I know that I'll be happier if I can get back to our training program. Shyla will be happier too. I've noticed a nosedive in her confidence around new dogs and people since my spine started hurting so much. I suspect the nosedive is because I am less positive about everything and also I haven't been playing the confidence-boosting games with Shyla that we used to play. So, it's time to figure out how to return to our training program!
Here's to new starts and figuring out how to live life fully despite obstacles!


  1. That's great that you found some little games that don't cause you more pain! Shyla is so cute laying on the frisbee!

  2. Sorry you're in such pain, but you sound like you're focusing on giving Shyla some activity, so it has to be good for both of you. We also think lying on a soft object in a sun puddle would be fun.

  3. We are so sorry about that horrible spine pain, we know lots about that now at our house, and mom says how dad is reacting to it definitely has an effect upon our attitudes for the day, I am not sure if he believes that or not. we also like to lay with our toys under our chin but our silly mom has never taken a good picture of us like she will need to......we sure hope you get to feeling much better.
    stella rose and momma

  4. Hopefully you can find alternatives to boost her confidence without hurting yourself in the process! I love that she peeks at you to make sure she is doing something you like. :) That is too sweet!

  5. We love that cute little peek Shyla has but we are so sorry that your spine is being such a pain, literally. As we often say, you are one courageous and determined woman!!!

  6. We have never been able to sustain Hailey's interest in play as a reward, isn't that funny. Treats are her thing. Phod is the opposite. Glad you found a way to train that works for the both of you.

  7. You're a great mom even though you're in pain you manage to make sure your babies aren't neglected. Pawesome job mom!

    Aroo to you,

  8. Shyla is beautiful. I love how she looks at the camera to make sure you got a good pictures. Back pain is so hard. I hope you feel better soon.

  9. We love the peeking look too! Hope the pain eases super soon.

  10. Okays, I'm takin' notes to give to Ma...she is SO boring when she gets her my-grains! And you gots very good ideas that can gets me outta my boredom!
    I hopes your pain gets better, butts sounds like you have a good plan in place until then...paws crossed for you!
    Shyla, I would have demanded 87 cookies for that shot! hehehehe
    Ruby ♥

  11. I love Shyla peeking to see if the photographer got The Shot. What a helpful model! :)
    Piper and I had a little ramble by the pond late this afternoon, and it was SO obvious that she had missed our walks there...and so have I. Must Try Harder! You are an inspiration, KB.

  12. I'm so sorry that the pain is interfering so much. Good luck in it getting better!

  13. Shyla may just be looking to you for a confidence boost. Maybe there's another way to convey that confidence to her that doesn't involve movement - just energy... She's such a pretty girl!

  14. Gosh, i know how that goes, modifying your life with dogs. Isn't it funny how dogs can learn to be good photography models? I know mine are pretty decent at it... just practice! Shyla's wonderful!

    I wish you good health and hope the best for your surgery...many hugs from us!

    PS awesome photos!

  15. You are so positive with this lateral thinking, and maybe Shyla is so understanding when you are in all that pain, she is a little quieter. Hoping that the new regime fits in well with everyone, and your pain lessens.Let that Duo give you heaps of TLC. XXX

  16. Maybe we should switch Labs for a while as my pain is in enough remission at the moment that I could play with Shyla and you could work with Lil, who is so food motivated that you could probably have her standing on her head or juggling in a few days.

    Your model by the way, is absolutely adorable with her peeking and trying different looks for you.

  17. Shyla is a fabulous model, I bet the cam really loves her too :o)
    I have to ponder about a replacement for tug o war too... it's sad when Easy brings his rope toy and I can only play with him for some minutes :o(

  18. I don't profess to know the pain and discomfort you are experiencing ~ But I do know that after a year and half after I fell in the bath tub with daily pain in the middle of my back that I understand the need to train Shyla more and lessen the pain factor for yourself. My situation has improved so much with chiro / acupuncture / 2 forms of massage / arnica tablets / stretching and strength training with the occasional nagging of the injury. I sure hope your decision comes soon so that you can heal(sorry for the pun)!!

  19. We are positive that you will find a way to keep up with Shyla's training while dealing with your pain. Yesterday before I left for work, my lower back and hips were killing me. I thought of you and it inspired me to "buck up"
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  20. We sure do hope that the pain in your spine eases, KB! Beautiful photos of Shyla but the last one is a portrait over the fireplace for sure. It's just stunning!

  21. Isn't it amazing how they take so much of their direction from us? :)

    Monty and Harlow

  22. Oh I hope this works! There is nothing worse than being in pain when you want to play with the dog!

  23. Sounds like you're an excellent trainer. I probably won't be working with Gatsby again (and need to update you all in the blog) but I still have absolutely no clue how to reward with play, and desperately want to learn.


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