Sweet Rocky has the same name as a legendary tough guy, but so far he’s not living up to his namesake’s attitude. He’s a four-month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (one of my favorite breeds to train), and he’s a shy little fella. We had our introductory lesson this morning and he was pretty nervous when I walked in the door (never a good sign). He opted to sit on his person’s lap rather than inspect my big smelly bag o’ tricks, which is highly unusual – my bag trumps Santa’s. I sat on the floor hoping that he’d be curious about me and come have a sniff, but no such luck. He kept his distance. I’ve done my fair share of work with ultra-shy dogs so I was prepared to deal with Rocky’s nervousness, but I was bummed because I know how smart and silly Cavs are … I didn’t want his shyness to hinder the fun we could have. The training process is very different when working with shy dogs … things don’t move as quickly or as smoothly, and that tends to frustrate the human side of the relationship. I’ve worked with a number of shy dogs that wouldn’t even get near me for several weeks, so you can imagine how long it took them to trust me enough to work on things like “down” and “come”! There’s no other choice but to let a shy dog set the pace. There was good news this morning, though. After our rocky introduction (ha) once the training process began it only took a few moments to thaw through his resistance to me. He dug deep and managed to find the courage to tackle “sit”, “down” and “come” with barely a hiccup. Shy? Nah, Rocky rocked it!
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