Lyra - 7 months

Have you ever had a training day where absolutely everything went right?  Where you wished every person who'd ever said an unkind thing about you could be there to watch?  Where you ended the work completely bubbling over inside with the excitement that comes with an amazing training session?

Today wasn't that day.

Everything went wrong, all because a perfectly well behaved Labrador was playing ball on the very far end of the park - a speck in the distance.  Lyra stood on her hind legs and screamed.  I tried waiting her out.  I tried engaging her with a toy.  I tried crating her and returning a few minutes later.  And when I realized I was getting angry, I stopped, and we went home.

On the drive back to the house, I acknowledged to myself that I hadn't worked Lyra in a public space for a couple of weeks.  I know that Lyra is highly environmental - training at home isn't enough.   Most important, I know that she needs to get out a few times a week, and that at seven months of age, my expectations for "work" need to be scaled way back when we are in public.

Still, I was dissapointed.  More in myself than in her, though in the minutes that she stood there and screamed I had some trouble remembering who needed to take responsibility.

We're back home and she's taking a nap under the desk.  Now I'm going to pick my son up from school.  Tomorrow we'll try again, with more fair expectations.  I won't bring any working equipment at all; just a few toys and Lyra.   Hopefully we'll have one of those days where everything goes right; where you wish every person who'd ever said an unkind thing about you could be there to watch, and where you end the work bursting inside with the excitement and  happiness that comes with an amazing training session.




I dont fully understand why Lyra did that. Would it be from arousal triggered by movement of the other dog in the distance, and instinctive desire to go towards it, and frustration at not being able to go towards it? Or something else?

I have a working line GSD, who will get quite aroused and bark if she sees something in the distance if she is on-leash or behind a window or fence. If she was off leash and was free to go check it out it she would be much calmer. So this is something I think about a lot. I think it is barrier frustration arousal in my dog’s case, but I still don’t feel that I quite understand it.

Your blog is fascinating to me, and I cant wait to see how Lyra gets along next time.


Lyra simply wanted to visit the dog. Lyra loves dogs. She wants to run and play with them, and it’s very frustrating to her to think someone else is having fun that she is not a part of. If I had let her visit the dog, she would have been thrilled (and very friendly). And there would have been no way to get her to want to come back. Then in the future, every time she saw a dog she’d be excited to go and play with it, which is why I will not let her find out just how nice it would be to visit new dogs. She has the same issue with people at my house – if I’m training in my home field and someone shows up, she’ll leave me and visit. but since they never interact with her, she’s starting to learn that her best interest is to stay with me and work, because the alternative is that I’ll return her to the house. In Lyra’s case, the leash tightening does not bring out aggression, only frustration. If she were getting angry then I’d be making a detailed plan for how I would work on it. This is just a puppy having a bad day because her owner neglected to keep her out in public.
All of my dogs have had challenges in training – Lrya’s are about the environment.

Kathie Dorn

Seems like allowing environmental investigation FIRST at any new place makes good sense for the dog so they can get oriented and be a “dog” before we even get started with the training factor——even at shows. Even us HUMANS like to walk thru and check out our new resort or cruise ship we’re on, don’t we? THEN it’s in the crate, we get out of the crate or our vehicle and we start our “working stuff” around the ring set-up for warming up even if it’s just “attention”. or play stuff, So no excuses for distractions anymore even if new ones crop up. You’ve already cased out this joint!. Simple correction for no attention or play engagement =s no worky no foody or fun play toys either. Back in crate or vehicle. Go home. No guilt on handler’s part——just maybe disappointment. That’s OK to feel, right?
And like you said————TOMORROW——yes, we’ll try this again.

Ellen Clary

Don’t you wish it was you who could happily curl up under the desk and take a nap?


Love it!!

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