Year End: The Good, The Bad and The Riley

I know I don’t normally do lengthy posts but as 2013 is coming to a close I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on my year with Riley. It’s amazing how far he’s come from that scared little puppy to the (more or less) confident dog he is today. Of course, he’s not perfect and still gets into mischief every now and then but I still feel like the luckiest person in the world. In lieu of this I’ve decided to create a reflection post of this past year, both the good and the bad.

The Good:

  • Riley is soo much better confidence-wise. His transition was so seamless I didn’t even notice until I started creating this post! He has gone from being terrified of walks to absolutely loving them! In fact, almost nothing phases him on walks- the garbage truck can pass by and he’ll just carry on whereas a few months before he would have planted his butt down and refuse to move.
  • He is great with dogs and other animals. I am so thankful to have a non-reactive dog because I really don’t know if I’d be able to deal with that. He also met his second cat (who was luckily already accustomed to dogs) and although a bit scared at first, was very polite and eventually wanted to play!
  • He has an “Off-switch”! No more needy puppy who requires constant supervision. He’s fine on the off day or two with no walks/limited exercise to just laze around at home.
  • Much better recall! I am extremely happy with how strong his recall has gotten. After failing to be recalled while running after a dog who I knew was not dog friendly, it was a few months before I decided to trust him off leash again. Fortunately, Riley’s recall has improved to the point where he will come back even if he sees another dog. The only thing that makes me nervous about letting him off, is if he were to see a squirrel..
  • He gets along with people/kids once properly introduced. I should probably even go so far to say that he enjoys the attention from strangers once he’s decided they mean no harm. I think with a few more positive interactions with strangers he may feel comfortable enough to let anyone say “hello”.

The meet & greet with the cat (Tali). Sorry for crappy cell quality pic.

The Bad:

  • Although he is great when properly introduced to people, in real life situations this isn’t always possible. It’s hard to tell what people are going to do. I’ve had children chase him down with a stick and others try to force him to greet them. It may only be a few seconds but it sets him back quite a bit. While he has no problem passing people in the street, the minute anyone tried to greet him he backs away. The only caveat to this is if they have a dog, then he becomes their best friend right away.
  • He also isn’t fond of be cuddle or pet. In fact, if he’s trying to sleep on the couch and start petting him (or even just move sometimes) get up and choose another spot to rest. While I have no problem with this, it does mean that he probably isn’t the best therapy dog candidate. This was something I really wanted to get into with him.
  • Mr. Riley is getting chubby! After starting my new 9-5 job along with it getting dark so quickly, it’s been hard to find time to exercise. Hopefully now that the days are getting longer we’ll be able to fix that.

The Future:

  • I definitely would like to sign us up for some sort of classes. Originally I had wanted to get into beginner agility but I’ve also considered some basic obedience just so he’ll have exposure to different environments. Who knows, maybe we’ll try to get his CGN (Canine Good Neighbour) this year!
  • Although it almost definitely won’t happen this year, I would like to eventually add a  second dog to the fam. I’ve already started looking into a few different breeds and am also strongly considering a rescue.

And there you have it, my summary of 2013. So far, I’m feeling very optimistic heading into the new year. Best of luck to all of you too in 2014!

Also, please feel free to share any of your reflections as well!


Posted on December 31, 2013, in "Human, Speak!", Behaviour, The Rest and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I love the top pic of Riley! its beautiful!

  2. Congratulations on all of the accomplishments in 2013. I enjoy following Riley’s antics and stumbled across your page as I was searching for Sheltie info. I adopted a five-month-old Sheltie/Cairn terrier/etc. mix (highly recommend a rescue!) who will be two in February, and I’m still trying to learn all I can about the breed. Maisey shares Riley’s apprehension with immediately warming up to people, and we’re trying to overcome that. One thing she’s loved, in case it’s an option Riley would enjoy, is doggie daycare. She adores all dogs, and I take her a few times a week so she isn’t by herself every day. She comes home completely exhausted and has a blast.

    All the best to you both in 2014!

    • Happy New Year!

      Thank you very much! It sounds like Maisey and Riley would get along great! I’m heavily leaning towards a rescue for my next dog when the time comes. I already love to torture myself by longingly scanning through adoption sites- there are just so many dogs in need of homes. I’ve also considered doggy daycare but am unsure how Riley would do left alone with strangers. However perhaps I should look into it more, seeing as Maisey enjoys it so much maybe Riley would too..

      • If you want to try out daycare without having to commit, all places I’m aware of do a temperament test ahead of time to see how dogs do in the environment, so you could see how Riley behaved around both the people and dogs and what he thinks. Ha. There are some dogs at Maisey’s place who took a few visits to really get acclimated, but now they are all about it. Today was her first visit to “camp” since before Christmas, and though she was only there 5 hours, she is already asleep; she’s not been home 30 minutes. 🙂 Some places also do grooming, and it’s convenient. She has a 2014 celebratory bath and nail trim today.

        She and Riley would have a blast playing together for sure. It’s too bad they’re not much closer; we’re in Charlotte, North Carolina.


      • That sounds great! I think I’ll start researching places in my area! How long does Maisey usually stay for? I bet she was feeling great and looking all shniy 😀

        Aww yeah, we’re up north across the border in Ontario, Canada.

      • We could meet halfway for a play date. Ha! Very envious of your snow. It’s cold here, but no white stuff to play in.

        Maisey goes to camp for anywhere from 5-10 hours. They offer all-day or half-day camp, and she often goes just for half. They have mandatory nap time from 12-2, so they don’t play all day. Her place has a webcam so you can see them, and it’s entertaining. Some dogs will be sound asleep as playing dogs move around them. Definitely all doing what they want to do. It’s been a great thing for her.

      • Haha you never know! I would send some in a heartbeat if I could- we have way too much!

        That ‘s awesome! It sounds like you have a great doggy day care. It really makes me want to find a place like that for Riley. Got to do some research!

  3. Lovely to hear about Riley’s progress … you have done a fab job with him xxx

    My husband and I were just talking about Nellie this morning, and realising how much progress she has made in her 7 months with us. She is still v. much afraid of all unexpected noises (and the recent fireworks have confirmed all her worries about monsters) but she is generally far more relaxed and confident.

    It’s really good to hear about Riley doing so well. It warms my heart to think of doggies who are enjoying wonderful homes and new lives with their loving owners.

    • Thanks for the support! I agree, it’s great to hear about the love and bond that forms between pet and owner.

      I’m glad Nellie is doing well! It’s sounds like she’s made a lot of progress. I know with nervous dogs and from my experience with Riley, you have to take things slow but the end result is totally worth it!

  4. Yay for you guys!! It sounds like you have made tremendous strides.

    I found that obedience classes were great – not just for Jacques, but for me as well. I learned a little about him & his needs & he was exposed to all kinds of new stimuli. It was comforting to have a doggie “expert” there to guide us through it all. She was able to explain some of Jacques’s more questionable behaviors & taught me how to work with them & even use them to my advantage. I really enjoyed it. (They also had one on one classes available. Maybe a personal training session or two wouldn’t be a bad idea for your handsome devil.)

    Whatever you do… as long as you do it together, you’ll be great!!

    • Thanks! Glad to hear you guys enjoyed the classes so much! I’ve contacted a facility in my area about signing up for obedience. Will probably sign up for their February obedience classes! I definitely think it would be helpful to have an expert provide input on how to help Riley build some confidence.

  5. I read through some of your post from earlier this year and it’s great to hear how far Riley has come! I think it’s awesome you had thought of therapy dog, hopefully as he becomes more accustomed to people he could still do it…I’m ever the optimistic, lol.

  6. Great post! Very interesting, I’m always curious how Betsy will change as she ages… Gives me a bit of a glimpse of how her future will be. Would love a dog with a solid recall, but so far she has quite a way to go…. Would not trust her with *any* distraction.

    • Thanks! In Riley’s case at least, his recall developed with time (along with quite a bit of training). He’s finally decided that staying with me is more fun than running off.

      Good luck with Betsy! They grow up so fast!

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