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Friday, November 11, 2016

Dog Training Fun!

Today, in the midst of a week of profound soul-searching, I want to post something fun and something that I'm proud of.

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.
I hope that you all can have some fun with your pets to take your mind off the momentous events of the past week.


  1. Replies
    1. NO ONE puts Vickie to shame!! Bert should have run for president! Butt Shyla is awesome due to her amazing mom!

  2. That was great! Shyla would probably enjoy doing a Rally obedience course.

    1. You are right, Taryn. We did an intro to Rally, and we loved it. I am planning to take the next level when it's next offered. One hard part (for me anyway) is that I really don't think that Shyla will ever be able to compete. She's "almost normal" in our rural quiet home world but not out in a town or a bustling trial venue. Believe me, I've tried and tried to help her become okay with town but she's always right on the edge of falling apart. So, I've decided to let her live primarily in her comfort zone and to do our training "just for the fun of it"! I still do love it.

  3. And hear we thought we were doing a good job with Misty who will sit and shake. A long way to go to come any where near Shyla:)

  4. That was AWESOME!

  5. Shyla, really has come so far.
    We are proud of your hard work and her's.
    I am working on getting Astro to shake hands. (paw)
    He just keeps looking at the cheese in my hand. lol
    But we have fun anyway.

    xo Astro

  6. It's always so great to see how far Shyla has come. She is so lucky to have you to guide her along on her journey.

  7. And it has taken 3 years for me to be able to pat Max other than from earlier this year when he was eating.But this last week , as he lies in his hidey-hole under a bed, I can pat his head, stroke him under the chin, and he leans his head into my hand. Slowly getting well, but still a long way to go. Happiness is when it all comes together, and Shyla's wave, I missed it the first time, she is the darling of your mountains.

  8. Great post, KB. I especially loved the wave. So amazing to see such a previously shy dog actually coming to take a tug from you. Cue training with our Ellie was a delight. She was such a quick learner and her desire to please made the training fun for both of us.

    Lucy? Not so much. While she is very intelligent, she seems to have no interest in cues. I tried and tried with her and decided to give up. She does respond to verbal commands, even when there is no change in the way the commands are said. So we tried accompanying the verbal command with a cue. That was fine but she did not then respond to the cue if no verbal command was included. The only cues to which she consistently responds are the lowered palm down hand to indicate "down/stay" and the open palm straight up (like a police officer) to indicate "wait."

  9. I love letting my dogs win at tug! Cow doesn't pull often, but Matilda loves it so much that she'll jump into my lap for another game. I think she seriously thinks that she's stronger than me. I also used to read that they shouldn't win, so glad to have learned about R+ training. Shyla did amazing, especially on reverse, she looks so confident and happy!

  10. WE loved seeing her happily wag her tail as she responded to your chain of commands. You have done so well improving her confidence and enjoyment of life - she is so lucky to have found you and your pack!

  11. that was interesting to read... do you think the "cue" command would work for Easy too? I will try it... if tug is included then maybe even we will see a good result LOL

  12. What an awesome video! You have us smiling bigtime, Shyla and KB☺

  13. Shyla always makes us smile, especially when we see her happy smile!

  14. That's a great video! I'm trying to reorganize my time throughout the day to do some training with Harlow. The one thing I have issues with is if she sees something she wants to investigate, she goes to that regardless of my commands. Any tips?

    Monty, Harlow, and Ramble

  15. Shyla is amazing and that looks like so much fun! I admire all you have done with her, and it inspires me not to give up on our Luke!
    Jan, Wag'n Woof Pets

  16. KB you and Shyla are such a team!!

  17. How fun! That looks like a great bike ride and fun play/training session. :)

  18. That course on cues sounds interesting. Where did you take it? And yay for progress! Thanks for joining the hop.

  19. Wow ! Lovely dog, Funny Dog Training . I have also a dog like this. It was awesome. I'm very enjoy this post for that. Keep it up.

    Thanks for post such as interesting post.


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