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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Empowering Shyla to Deal with Tricky Surfaces

In recent weeks, I've shown you some videos of the "empowerment" training that I'm going with Shyla. They've involved having her walk on odd feeling and sounding stuff and also having her root through a pile of pans to find treats.

This week, we started working on having Shyla walk on tippy surfaces. If Shyla has a "superpower", it is her agile ability to negotiate difficult surfaces like climbing big boulders, standing in exposed spots, and even going across teeter-totters.

In this photo, she is standing atop a very high boulder so that I could take her photo against the sunset sky. She climbs on boulders like this without the slightest hesitation. Yet, she does it carefully, in manner that makes even this nervous human comfortable with her doing it! By contrast, I don't think that R would want to go up there, and I wouldn't want him to either!

In contrast to Shyla's comfort with tough surfaces, she doesn't like unexpected sounds. Part of the empowerment course is getting her used to producing harsh metallic sounds as she negotiates a tippy surface.

In this video, you'll see a few of the steps that we've taken so far with "tippy surfaces". We started with a very short and low plank resting on a small fulcrum. We progressed to having a cookie sheet under one end of the plank, and finally to having a cookie sheet under one end of a teeter totter that was set very low to the ground.

Enjoy the very short video!


  1. And you tail wags the entire time, Shyla. Good job!

  2. Great Job Shyla :) It's amazing what us labradors will do for food. Milo,Jet & Arli

  3. We think you are most amazing and beautiful too sweet Shyla!

  4. This is awesome! YOu and Shyla are my heroes! These are things I should do with Chance, my skittish boy. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Shyla I know this goes w/o saying but my sweet are blessed with the best mom E V E R!
    We love how she makes up fun and rewarding games.
    Hugs madi your bfff

  6. What innovative ways you use to teach Shyla, she is a perfect student.

  7. Amazing how much progress this lovely dog has made. Kudos to you and to Shyla for putting in the hard work to bring her where she is.

  8. WOW! Turning on the teeter-totter was amazing enough -- then with the "bang"!?!? AWESOME!

  9. The trust she has that you will keep her safe enables her to conquer her fears.
    She is so lucky to have such a wonderful mom
    Hazel & Mabel

    1. I just watched your agility videos. If anyone knows how to train a dog, it's you! Wow!

  10. So when can we send Lightning to KB's Awesome Courage Building Classes?

    Great work.

  11. she is absolutely amazing!!! and you are to for all these things you do to make her happy and cure her fears. honestly, I wish I had known you when we got Baby in 2002... I had not idea what to do to help her fears.

  12. Madison is pretty fearless, but she has a fear of the teeter in agility. We need to build something like what you have there to work on that fear of hers.

  13. She doesn't even seem to react at all to the tipping or to the noise. Great job by both of you to come so far!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  14. And you spend so much time with Shyla and R,, and it builds trust,, and gives them fun. Its amazing what you do,

  15. That is a stunning shot of Shyla and the video, she rocks. Way to go Shyla.


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