Lyra is the wierdest puppy I’ve ever raised. Certainly she is helping me understand what is meant by a “fear period,” because her ups and downs are much more pronounced than what I’ve seen in my other dogs.
In a two week span, she’s gone from being highly social, to worried about people, to social – most of the time. Every fifth person still causes her concern for absolutely no reason that I can detect. She’s not having a meltdown but definitely showing some glitches in her self confidence. I see the same with places and things; the world is no longer her oyster. My best guess is that Lyra looked around and realized that there could be threats out there. Night exacerbates the issue, but even in bright daylight she can have weird moments. I don’t “do” anything about these moments except make sure she’s not overwhelmed. If she vocalized in any way, I’d remove her from the situation, but mostly she just flattens her ears and skulks around. I give her time to adjust, and if she doesn’t become comfortable with the object of concern in a short period of time (30 seconds or so) then I try to move her a little further away or just leave the area altogether. The people worries are much more pronounced than the environmental ones.
Yesterday I took her out for some work in the neighborhood, and she was terrific! Happy and engaged; curious about the environment but very comfortable working for me too. Then today I took her to a public garden. She was happy to explore, but her ears weren’t consistently up, and her ears are a pretty good barometer of happiness. She did lead the way through the garden, and after walking on the paths for five or ten minutes, we left. We’ll see if she’s better next time. Needless to say, any plans I may have had for attention work were wiped out. Some days she cannot do anything in public; I’m happy just to get her ears up and her tail wagging.
In direct contradiction to her unsureness with random people, places and things, she’s starting to show me some hardness at home, which is very much welcome. Today when I asked her to give a toy back, she said “no”. It wasn’t a loud no, but she knew what I wanted and she didn’t give it up. I’m thrilled! Someday I’ll have her full cooperation, but I want to earn that cooperation, not recieve it because she doesn’t have the personal strength to argue with me. It’s hard to have a true teammate unless you are very close to each other in power. I want 51% of the power and 49% in Lyra; this is what I have with Cisu, Juno and Raika, and it is a joy to work any of them. Right now I have too much power with Lyra ( to be expected with a puppy), so I’m glad to see her developing more core strength. I happen to like a dog that has opinions and gives me a little grief, because I think it makes for a much stronger competition dog in the long run. It’s good if I have to earn Lyra’s cooperation instead of getting it because she is emotionally weak inside. It’s also an absolute necessity in a good Schutzhund dog, and who knows if we’ll pursue that. I’d like it to be an option anyway.
I adore her. I find her ups and downs fascinating, and trying to find the right combination of motivators is a challenge. Right now I’m working on getting her to run to her platform (as opposed to trotting), so we’ll see what it takes to get her there.