Since moving to Lab Valley, I've been able to do my daily rides with Shyla in places where we see absolutely no one else. It's so peaceful. Amazingly, Shyla's behavior during our rides has improved dramatically since the move. I didn't put two and two together until this week...
This week, I decided to do a ride to a lake with Shyla. We've done this ride before, and it's always been completely quiet with no other people around. This week was different. As we got close to the lake,we saw some people. A couple were fishing and another couple were hiking. And a dog in a nearby house was barking anxiously.
I let Shyla cool off in the lake, and then we turned to ride back home.
As we were leaving, we saw two more hikers. Then, all the way home, Shyla refused to stay on the trail near me. She'd fade backwards behind me, and then she'd go left or right off the trail into the forest. I'd have to stop, call her, and then try to get her restarted in the correct direction.
This behavior was her hallmark at our old place. I am embarrassed to admit just how much it drove me crazy.
Then, I finally understood it. Although Shyla is much better with people than in her younger days, it is still obvious to me that she gets anxious around them. If she is very afraid of a person, she steals off into the forest and hides. I think that seeing non-family members makes her anxious for a long time after she sees them. That is why she continually went off the trail into the forest during our lake ride. And that is why she did this behavior almost every day at our old place. The trails near our old place had become progressively busier - and so we saw other users almost every day. Hence, Shyla's undesirable behavior was almost constant.
I must say that the transformation in Shyla's behavior at Lab Valley is one more reason that I love it here. I rarely have to call her or remind her to stay near when we ride here. Both of us are so relaxed after our daily rides!
Happy Shyla Saturday!