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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Boldness Training for Shyla

Shyla has become so very comfortable with the natural world. She happily explores boulders, water, forests, and almost everything imaginable in nature.

I suspect that her comfort in the natural world is a result of how much time she and I spend there. Over years, she's learned that she can have a ton of fun in these quiet places. She forgets all her qualms when it's time to leap into a lake.

And she reaches out to land in the dark water without a worry. Of course, this is partly in the genes of a Lab...

Shyla and I have continued our "silly training", where I try to present her with novel human-made setups to explore. The general idea is that she will (hopefully) become less wary of the huge variety of unknown objects and sounds if we play games where she is rewarded for boldly interacting with them.

One form of "silly" training that I thought of was to give Shyla a ride in a wheelbarrow. The first problem was how she would get into the wheelbarrow. It was high off the ground, and then the wheelbarrow was intimidatingly deep for Shyla to step into.

I realized that Shyla is comfortable with ramps so I set one up for her to climb up to the wheelbarrow. Then, I partially filled the wheelbarrow with wood so that the depth of the wheelbarrow wouldn't intimidate Shyla. She had to step only about a foot downward to get into the wheelbarrow.

I made a video of the different phases of training, from the first time she saw the ramp up to the wheelbarrow to when she could walk up the ramp and step into the wheelbarrow with little worry.

After all of that preparation, Shyla was not the slightest bit afraid when we finally rolled the wheelbarrow with her in it. There's no video of that because it was a total "non-event". I was thrilled to see her newfound boldness!


  1. it#s great that all the anture areiund you is like a second home now ;O) we love the video and we learnt some things thanks... it is not easy to notice all the little things what are common for us but not for Neilson... and the challenge is to see or to notice them before he starts to escape or to bark like crazy ...

  2. I can't believe she wasn't startled or frightened when the wheelbarrow started moving! I think that's quite impressive :)

  3. super idea, you do have the best training ideas. so glad the rolling of Shyla was a non event. I like the logs inside the wheel barrow to make it less threatning...

    1. I think that I have the "silliest" training ideas. But I hope that by dealing with my crazy ideas, she'll learn to be less afraid of the world.

  4. Hari OM
    I did unconventional things with Jade too - it's an important part of bonding, to go with the character of the dog and not try to 'break' it... YAM xx

  5. Shayla is the bravest. She lives in a wonderful and beautiful world. Mags and Gusser

  6. OMCs Shyla well done my Brave friend and you got to ride in a wheelbarrow...OMCs that must have been such fun.
    We were surprised to read that your mom has been to the Outer BAnks of NC...and so happy she has fond memories. I'm sorry to she she might not recognize it now way too developed.
    Hugs madi and mom

  7. You are braver than I am, Shyla. I would never consider walking up a plank and climbing into a wheelbarrow! You are amazing and so smart!

  8. She is making so much progress thanks to your training and I'm sure your patience while teaching her new things to accomplish.

  9. We love (and learn a lot from) your silly ideas. Thanks for sharing them! I see a wheelbarrow in Obi's future...

    Chris from Boise

  10. Shyla is so lucky to have such a clever mom. You continue to do all you can to make her life as smooth as possible.

  11. That was wonderful sweet Shyla, right up that ramp with a happy wag of the tail!

  12. Love how far your girl has come; great job KB! Hope you are enjoying the summer.

  13. Hey, nothing wrong with silly if it works!!! You are so good for Shyla.

  14. You are so creative with your training!!!
    Hazel & Mabel

  15. You are such a good photographer I forget how good you are at dog training

  16. It's important to always try new things and meet new challenges to keep our fears from building up. Great idea to try a wheelbarrow.

  17. You do so great with her, and I'm impressed with the new ideas you come up with and the ways to do them! Luke sometimes still can be a bit nervous when we walk in our woods. I hope one day he will be completely confident out there.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets


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