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.




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.

Unfortunately my neighbors and coworkers ALWAYS pet Dragon. I guess I need to start yelling out “Please ignore him!!”

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Kudos to you as a trainer to recognize the good days and bad days of puppyhood. Pushing through a bad day would likely cause more issues that you would need to work through. I know I have preached training in different places and different situations to my students and then I do the things I tell them not to. I am sure this little girl will eventually be one of your perfectly well trained Tervs – and it will be because you see what she needs and are willing to work through the steps to make sure life is “right” for her.

I am dealing with my puppy having her first season and doing all the things I laugh at other people for – like not recognizing her name. Seriously – you think you hear a voice? LOL

Thanks for sharing your thoughts once again.


When I have a minute I’ll write another blog going through the options that I had under the circumstances. That should make it more clear.

Melinda Wichmann

Oddly enough, we wrote about very similar topics:

My previous dogs were relatively environmentally bomb-proof. We could train anywhere with very few “train wrecks.” Phoenix changed all that. When we go out in public to train, I never know if we’ll have the session I planned or if I’ll end up flying by the seat of my pants to accommodate what he needs from me vs what I wanted to work on that day. That was a huge lesson for me – it’s not about what I want, it’s about what my dog needs.

Now he’s 5 and getting much better at settling into his work in new places but things still don’t always go as I planned. That’s okay, that’s just who he is.

Thanks for another insightful post.

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