Most of you know Shyla's history as an extremely fearful dog who has recovered almost to the point of being normal. I didn't want to stop there - I wanted learn more about how to communicate with dogs and train them in a confidence-building way. For that purpose, I've kept on taking training classes.
Recently, I took a course on "Cues" - a "cue" is a word, gesture, or object that you use to communicate to your dog that you want them to do something specific. A good test of a dog's understanding of individual cues is to try to string a bunch of them together so that your dog does myriad different behaviors all in a row.
With Shyla, we reached the point of stringing together 10 different cues! I was so proud that we'd reached a point of such good understanding.
I'm sharing a 45 second video of Shyla doing her series of cues. Excuse my ridiculous outfit - we did this during a break in a bike ride, and I didn't even bother to take off my helmet! And, to avoid confusion, I've had to use the word "swing" in place of "heel" because I'd previously poisoned the word "heel" with sloppy training. Also, be sure to catch that her cue to wave to me is that I waved to her!
To me, another amazing thing is that Shyla has learned to love to tug. You saw me give her a treat and then start to tug with her at the end of her series of cues. For a timid dog, loving to tug is a big accomplishment. And, as you can see in the next photo, she's even willing to grab the tug toy with me facing her. It took a long time (4 years) before she was willing to do that!
After she grabbed it, she pulled!!! I let her win sometimes to keep her motivation high! That is counter to what every dominance-based trainer would tell me to do. I've trained both ways - dominance-based and positively - and I can attest that positive training is a thousand times more effective, especially with a dog like Shyla.