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Monday, January 25, 2016

The Confident Chocolate Lab

Shyla is still amazing me with her leaps forward in confidence and trust. For example, yesterday was warm so lots of people came out onto the trails, including the three other snow bikers who live near here. Shyla has never been willing to approach any of them.

So, visualize this! Shyla and I arrive on Hug Hill, and two people on fat bikes are hanging out there. Not only does Shyla want to meet them BUT she also jumped onto a boulder to get her face at their face level! The woman started petting Shyla who reciprocated with kisses. 

I almost fell off my bike in surprise. Shyla is the most courageous dog I know!

I don't have any photos of her interactions yesterday but I do have a photo of her zooming across Hug Hill after the other people departed. Her victory lap!

She still occasionally has melt-downs, and I've learned to take them in stride. At Christmas, a noisy family get-together sent Shyla into hiding in a corner under a desk. Everyone was concerned about her but I knew what was best from hard-earned experience. I told everyone, and especially the kids, that they were not allowed to approach her. She needed some quiet time, and she'd come out when she was ready.

Of course, I went and checked on her every 5 minutes or so but I didn't even ask her to come out. I just gave her some reassuring pats. Then, about 30 minutes later, Shyla emerged on her own and started approaching people for pats. Within 5 minutes of emerging, she was interacting in her normal loving way again.

That story sums up the biggest thing I've learned from Shyla. When it comes to being afraid, it's her choice about how she handles it. I never force her or even encourage her to "face" her fears. I just provide reassurance, and then I follow her lead.

She's amazing!
I'm so glad that Shyla came into my life. She's taught me so much about handling fear and under-confidence, not just in her but in myself too.

28 comments:

  1. I love that you let her have her space. Sometimes we all need a little quiet time and it is ok and really smart that she knows she needs some time!! They are wonderful!!

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  2. I always love hearing how far Shyla has come!! What a brave girl, and what a loving dog mama you are!

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  3. She just doesn't want to jump into an unsteady situation but did not lose her cool. Well done!

    Keep Calm & Bark On!

    Murphy & Stanley

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  4. We are taking that same approach with Ruby - not forcing just providing reassurance.

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  5. Dear Shyla has learned a lot from you too!

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  6. fat bikers? or fat-bikers?
    i would think riding a bike would make a person skinny. :-)

    go Shyla!

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  7. I love hearing about her confidence! That's just indicative of the love you've poured into her. :) I also have to let B chill on her own when something scares her. I reassure her but don't force the issue.

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  8. Hello Rodger - You're right. The bikers weren't fat. Their tires were fat. So I changed the wording!!!! LOL!

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  9. It always warms my heart to hear how Shyla has the courage to overcome her fears. And chills my heart that she came to be fearful in the first place. Whatever brought the fears, I'm so glad you have helped her overcome them.

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  10. LOL - fat bikers:)

    So Shyla gives me hope for Lightning and his quirky fears. He is best left on his own to decide when and if he wants to greet guests in our home. And once he does, he is just so sweet. Now to get him not to worry so much about those bikers (fat and skinny:)

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  11. Shyla is such a beautiful girl, inside and out
    hugs
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

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  12. wonderful experience, and Shyla, a victory medal should be added onto your medal wall now,one for every challenge you have met and passed with flying colours. Beauty photo.

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  13. What a success story for you both! Congratulations.

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  14. You're glad Shilo came into your life?? I'm pretty sure Shilo's mighty glad you came into her life. What a great pair you make. Hug hill, aye?? Shilo just wanted a hug .....

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  15. And Shyla is a good teacher,,,, to show you results,,, on how things can be,,, when the timing is just right.
    love
    tweedles

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  16. You are such a smart girl, Shyla, and all of the work that you and your mom have done together is paying off.

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  17. yes, you are amazing... and you are the greatest gift for your humans... :o)

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  18. It really is best to let dogs deal with their fears as they see fit (withinn safety issues of course). Forcing something only makes it more negative. Shyla's Lab genes are starting to dominate ;-)

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  19. It seems you are both learning from each other which is what a loving, trusting relationship is all about. Empowering each other!

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  20. I know people just like that. I personally need space from noisy people.

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  21. I wonder if those other bikers knew how special that moment was. Yay for Shyla.

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  22. Shyla is TOTALLY pawesome! We've loved watching her blossom with you!

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  23. What a beautiful moment for both you and Shyla! I know what it is like to watch a scared Blaze and Chance come to their own with their own anxities and it is so awesome to be a part of it.

    I'm so she has you by her side. :)

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  24. What a great story about Shyla - following their lead is the only way to go. We went away at Christmas with our family and spent the evenings in our suite laughing & playing games. One night Maggie came and joined us...just for a short while, but it was so nice to see her approach people and say hello. The next night she wanted no part of it and watched from the other room...oh well, baby steps.

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  25. Thankyou for sharing this! Very helpful for those of us who work with fearful dogs to hear how others handle it.
    It made me think that perhaps I didn't need the 'graded exposure' approach I did with Gatsby, but then I guess the situation's a bit different - she doesn't HAVE to interact with the visitors, while Gatsby, like Shyla, did have to learn to be okay with passers-by, so you did take her into town too.

    Still a good reminder for us humans, too, though, that not everything needs to be worked on - some things work themselves out with time (and love).

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  26. So true about listening to the animal, which takes a special kind of awareness and patience, and letting them work through the problem in their own time. I've been told I was foolish and letting my horse get away with disobedience when he would refuse to go where I wanted him to go. But there's a big difference between an obedience issue, which comes down to training, and a fear issue, which is what Luke had. I could feel it in every muscle I was sitting on. If I pushed him, he'd melt down and rear. If I simply turned in another direction until I felt him relax again and came back to the same spot later he'd walk by as if there had never been an issue in the first place. I am not a fan of making anything face their fears when they are in panic mode.

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