My big BRAVE girl!

When I first went to meet Shayne at the humane society, we were in the meet-n-greet room together and she did everything she could not to engage with me.  I sat in the middle of the floor and just looked to the floor.  She slunk around the edge of the room… sitting under the chair, sniffing with her head in the corner, and almost exclusively staying behind me.  After 25 minutes of this she randomly walked up to me and crawled into my lap and fell asleep.  Even just thinking about that moment brings tears to my eyes… she decided to give me a chance… it was such a wonderful feeling to be given a chance by such a vulnerable creature.  Even simply leaving the shelter I could see just how insecure she was (if the 25 minutes of actively trying to ‘be small’ and avoid me wasn’t a clue)… doors, stairs, thresholds, and cars (well getting into them) were all scary things experienced within 2 minutes of leaving the shelter.  It’s been quite the journey over the last going on 5 years (almost exactly actually) but she’s come a very long way.

There are actually many times now when Shayne absolutely shines with confidence and fearlessness.  I’ve worked incredibly hard to get Shayne to be the ‘normal’ dog that she is.  There are, however, moments when the timid and fearful Shayne peeks around the corner.  One of those situations was regarding jumping off anything into a body of water.  She loves to leap off things and she loves to swim but those two things together used to cause her great anxiety and stress.  She is a GREAT swimmer and had no problems crashing into the water to retrieve a toy, or swimming in the small waves of the ocean, or submerging her head to get a toy but jumping from a height into the water was a very stressful.  We’d done a little work a few years ago to try and build her confidence but it didn’t go too far and there weren’t too many places that had the physical environment to practice.

Yesterday I went to a friend’s pond and I found a rock that jutted out about a foot over the water surface.  I had both dogs running into the pond retrieving tennis balls and they were loving it.  I decided to see if I could get Rio or Shayne to jump off the rock.  Not surprisingly it was my crazy confident boy Rio to first take the plunge.  He leapt into the water like it was nothing… it was cute he even just jumped off for no reason…again, very cute!  Shayne took some convincing but after about 4 throws of her almost diving it and then chickening out at the end and walking in to get the ball she finally took the plunge.  I rewarded her like crazy and tried again!  I was so excited to see her leaping into the water with such gusto… she really did enjoy it.  She was soooo brave and I was sooo proud of her.

Shayne started jumping off regularly about the time Rio decided he didn’t want to do it anymore… and that’s about the time I got the camera out…

And to prove Rio DID jump… here’s a photo (and a few more of Shayne!)


Shayne didn't actually jump straight up... she leapt out but is collecting herself LOL

HAPPY TIRED DOGS ARE AWESOME!!! (wet and smelly dogs not as much)


About Success Just Clicks

I'm a dog trainer and enthusiast who moonlights as a blogger and custom tug-toy maker.
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22 Responses to My big BRAVE girl!

  1. Tucker's Mom says:

    What a successful (and fun!) day! I love when they tackle and master something they have been so afraid of – when Tucker first took the teeter with confidence, I confess, I got a little teary!

    • Such a great moment…those are the moments I live for… seeing pups give it a chance and trust that the handler wouldn’t set them up to fail.

      I can definitely relate to the teeter story…. i tried shayne on a low teeter (literally two inches off the ground) when i first got her and it was BAD news. 3 years later I randomly tried a teeter at 1/2 height and she conquered it with little more than an ear flick! no training for the obstacle.. just an increase of confidence… it was so great..and i DID get a little teary!

  2. It is so wonderful when they overcome their fears. Katy’s progress is slow, but it is there and we are so proud when we see her move forward. She is not the shy girl who wasn’t sure she wanted to leave her foster Mom’s home to go home with another Sheltie. Now she is starting to believe we will come back when we leave.

    She is slowly starting to let others into her circle, but it is really hard for her. We celebrate each milestone. Others find it hard to see the progress sometimes.

    • Sometimes you just have to look back and think “would she have done this a year ago?” or compare to what she was like initially. She may not have changed tons in the last month but over time there has been great change. Like with many other things in life there are periods of fast change/growth and periods of slower change/growth. Just keep working and moving forward… she may surprise you and suddenly hit a ‘growth spurt’ and make some big changes quickly!

  3. lexy3587 says:

    sounds like a great day 🙂
    Gwynn is still a bit tentative about getting all four feet off the ground, but he’s improving. We think he’ll really get it once we can take him somewhere that we can go swimming as well. After that, jumps 🙂

  4. Anna says:

    what a great little pond. I have seen luna jump off something into water twice in all her life. And it’s not for lack of trying on my part. She is too clever, and much prefers to jump in from the shore that is not raised. She jumped off a rock in the river as a puppy once, but then figured out she could climb down into the water so then she refused to. And I motivated her into it off a bank about a foot up once after much convincing.. and then she decided it was easier to just hop down. She just is not that driven when it comes to retrieving, she loves to swim, but will take her time usually when it comes to entering the water. She jumps on and off all sorts of things inside and outside, but just not in water. Wyatt on the other hand, being a lab, lives to retrieve and would probably love dock jumping. I really want to try him on it sometime, there may be a place down the road to do so. It was nice to see your pups having so much fun.

  5. Kristine says:

    This is so awesome! Go team Shayne and Rio. You must just be beaming right now. The video was such a blast to watch. I could almost hear Shayne say “wheee! Cowabunga!” I love it.

    What’s the secret? We have a dock in our backyard and Shiva runs away if I try to encourage her to even look over the edge. We’re slowly working with treats to entice her in and it’s helping. She now runs in off the beach or level ground. But there is no way she’d make this jump. In everything else she is so much like Rio with confidence up the wazoo, but when it comes to water, it’s been slow going. I guess it’s only been two years. Maybe in three more she’ll be trying out for the local dock diving team as well! You have given me hope.


    • The secret was first getting her REALLY comfortable in water. She would, at first, tip-toe into a body of water and reluctantly start swimming for a toy… eventually she got comfortable enough that she would run and LEAP into the water to get her toy. She was confident that she could swim and was okay with water splashing in her face and even okay going under for a second etc. Then it was just rewarding some approximations–the first time she slowly hopped onto a submerged rock and pushed off… then she got her front feet on the rock and sort of fell forward LOL then she sort of plopped in … and then she really dove in. Each time she tried something from the rock she got cheese 🙂

      (the dock diving has only really been a 3.5 year project so it may only be another year or two 🙂 but then again I didn’t have a lake in my backyard to practice lots! hehe!)

  6. Tiffany says:

    I love those moments where you have been working toward and sometimes there is a stall. Then it’s like it just clicks (pun intended). Great video and wonderful blog. Congrats Tena! and WTG Shanye!!!

  7. Vero says:

    WOW, that’s a brave dog! In fact, two brave dogs. You must be so proud.
    This last picture of two happy dogs is a pleasure to look at.

  8. Janet Finlay says:

    Just to let you know you have won a Versatile Blogger award – see here for details:

  9. Courtenay says:

    What a neat story. I do hope to teach Archie to jump into the water. We need to get up to the lake more. I got him a life jacket to see if it keeps him warmer and helps him feel more secure.
    Are your dogs wearing bear bells?

    • I think life jackets give them lots of extra confidence…. i just never got around to them for the dogs and they are both pretty confident swimmers and they rarely swim in big bodies of water so i don’t worry about them.

      Yep they have bear bells on their hiking collars. One of the places we walk has coyotes, deer, turkey, ground hogs, and bear (rarely but i’ve seen bear scat), etc… I want to give all the critters in the area fair warning that two monsters are in the area and to get outta dodge before the dogs see them to harass them.

  10. Ximena says:

    lol Shayne has an otter tail!! So cute!

    • I swear i finally saw the “lab” that may make up part of her heritage while she’s out there doing her diving thing… she’s really quite an amazing swimmer… she won’t get in jUST for the sake of swimming but she’ll retrieve out of the water forever!

  11. Alright folks, in the name of being able to announce the winners tomorrow, the Tugs By Tena Contest is now closed! Comments after this one will not be counted as entries! Good luck to everyone!

  12. Love the photos! They both look so pleased with themselves. Great job.

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