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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Reflected in our pet's eyes

As I mentioned on Sunday, I had a horrible migraine - one my worst ever. I am forever amazed by how Shyla will stick by my side even when she doesn't get to do her usual fun things. She slept on the bed with me for most of the day.

Finally, when I was able to eat and drink a little bit, we went outside together briefly before sunset. I kept thinking about the way her eyes reflect me. Do you see me?

I've mentioned that we've been taking training classes. For those classes, I video the two of us training almost everyday. I've learned a huge amount from watching those videos. The biggest lesson was a surprise to me.

Shyla is almost always right when she responds to a "cue" from me. When she appears to make a mistake, it is usually my mistake, not hers. For example, we worked on a down-stay the other day with major distractions. I was dropping treats in front of her nose, and she didn't try to get them. She held her down-stay.

Then, I tried to drop one even more dramatically, and I accidentally made a hand motion that looked like the "sit" hand signal. Shyla sat up from her "down". I had no idea that *I* had messed up. Fortunately, our brand of training doesn't involve corrections so my response was to gently put her back into a "down".

Even when I looked at the video, I didn't realize what had happened. My instructor recognized it, and she said that Shyla was right and I was wrong. What an eye-opener!!!!!

It made me realize that I need to look at my own movements, verbal cues, and even tone through Shyla's point of view. She reads every nuance and responds to it. That's part of being such a sensitive dog.

It's my job to make my requests clear so I don't confuse or frustrate my sweet dog. Do you see me reflected in her eyes in this photo?
I am learning that it's worth looking at every aspect of my relationship with Shyla through her point of view. Today, I was even trying not to sound intense when I called her to "come" away from yet another elk carcass. Sounding less intense seemed to help because Shyla chose me over the carcass (what an honor!). Intensity scares Shyla so it makes sense that toning down my naturally intense level will make her more likely to want to respond to me.

Do you ever look at yourself through your pet's eyes?


  1. That's funny. I think I've learned that same lesson a gagillion times from Loki AND Juno. The dog is ALWAYS right and the human is, well, a goofball at best. LOL. I loved doing the video training too. I don't have it in me now to do it but i think i'll be ready this summer to start up again, maybe nose work!

    Hugs to Shyla and R!

  2. It's one of the main lessons the agility instructor tries to impart - if the dog makes a mistake it's because the human didn't make it clear what the dog was supposed to do. She says the dogs NEVER make mistakes.

  3. That is AMAZING!!

  4. yes, it is very amazing to see myself through my fur babies eyes.

  5. what a wonderful things to see you in her eyes :o) I would be lost without my Dogtor Easy who is on my side when I'm not well...

  6. We love reading your blog, KB. We learn so much! Thank you☺

  7. It is interesting that you were able to figure out the problem was you and not her. I see the same thing in my job (which is teaching individuals with autism). It is often the staff error that leads to the kid error.

  8. The videos must be a great training aid. Dogs are very visual, so I can see a different cue that maybe you didn't think you were doing, making a difference with Shyla.

  9. Again I am so relating to your post. I have always had a difficult time with my pugs learning a reliable Down. So I have worked very hard with Mabel on that. But now we are learning "stand". Having a small dog has its challenges and we realized that when I start to bend and my hand comes down she does a down. I discussed this with our teacher Monday night. She said to start with her on a platform of some sort so I don't have to bend over. She recommended learning the stand with only verbal cue.
    Love the reflections!
    PugRanch Mom

  10. Shyla has the most beautiful eyes. And how awesome that she stayed with you and took care of you when you were not feeling well. I hope you feel much better. Such a blessing to have the love of sweet Shyla!!

  11. An amazing eye shot! Yes, hoomans are communicating to doggies all the time . . . whether they mean to or not!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  12. You are such a good girl Shyla. You and mom have a special bond for sure
    Lily & Edward

  13. Lucy was much harder to train than Ellie. In part because of Ellie's intense desire to please. In part because of Lucy's higher activity level and resentment at being told what to do. If Lucy did not sit immediately, my husband would say sternly, "Sit down." Took me forever to explain to him that he was giving two very different commands and confusing her.

  14. We hope your feeling better KB. those head aches are so bad.
    YEs, we see your reflection in SHylas eyes. SHe is totally devoted to you.
    We admire your diligence in training SHyla. You have never given up.

  15. We know this very, very well. I've always been super klutzy and in agility, I feel like I'm doing well if I don't trip over my own feet or run into a jump--but then our trainer will stop me and ask me where my feet are pointing or what my hand is doing and all of the sudden it's clear why Barley is at the other end of the gym and I'm standing by our next obstacle without her.

  16. Thanks for this, KB, and for everyone who commented! I felt like I learnt something from every comment. (Aside, you should be proud of a blog that creates that, KB - one of my biggest goals).

    First, I smiled when I zoomed in on the first photo of Shyla's eyes, expecting to see you - and I did, your outline with bike helmet and big camera lens, reflected in your dog's eyes. What a self-portrait!

    And your story really makes me want to both video myself training a lot more, and to get a trainer to watch me train - and teach me to do it properly! I think I may have absorbed "be exciting to the dog" a bit too well and startle them sometimes.


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