Category Archives: Behaviour

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!


Middle ground?

In my world, it’s either play or sleep- no in between.  However, sometimes I try to do both at the same time.

Small Success! Confidence with Children

Hey guys! Guess what? Little humans ain’t so bad after all! Well, at least not all of them. I used to be very scared of them because they’re strange and unpredictable. Once when I was puppy and still getting used to all the new sights and sounds I was ambushed by a little girl. Mommy and I were minding our own business when I was grabbed from behind by the little human! She didn’t even ask if it was okay to pet me! Even the ones that asked nicely made me nervous after that.

Any how, back to the good stuff! I had a great play date with Mommy’s 2 year-old niece and 6 year-old nephew today. I met them a long time ago when I was a pup but I was too easily excitable then, and scared them (I can appreciate the irony here). It also didn’t help that I the only way I knew how to play was with my mouth which was armed with sharp puppy teeth! But now that I’m a big doggy I’m much better! Mommy was a little nervous about how I’d react to them but I made her proud!

Mommy’s nephew wanted to play chase, which happens to be one of my favourite games! We had lots of fun running around in the yard and I remembered not to use my mouth. Then, when we were inside I let the little boy give me lots of pets. I was even okay when he stood over me and pretended to ride me like a pony, I just sat and let him give me a big hug.

I had lots of fun with mommy’s niece too. She was much slower and gentler than the little boy so I was calmer too. She would very delicately pet my back and helped mommy give me treats and water. We also played fetch for a little while until I accidentally lost the ball under the porch-Oops!  It’s okay though, to make up for it I taught her how to “woof”. Now if the doorbell rings again she’ll know what to do 😉

Overall we had a great day and mommy says we’re going back next week! Here’s what she has to say about my progress:

I was thrilled with how well Riley did. Since the weather has been warming up there have been more people and more kids out meaning, more people who want to “pet the cute doggie”. I wish I could take credit for how well he did today but I really can’t. What seems to really help Riley is exposure. We’ve been going on our usual walk but he’s just been encountering more children. Thankfully, he hasn’t been getting any “physical” attention just passing comments and stares. I’ve also been randomly rewarding him if we walk by a noisy playground or school which may be helping.  He’s still a little fearful on-leash but I’m feeling very optimistic with his progress. Dreams of therapy dog status are slowly creeping back in, hopefully someday..fingers-crossed!



Sheltie Quirks: the Stink-Eye

We shelties have mastered the art of the stink-eye. Has your human ever said or asked something that just didn’t make sense? Hit em with the stink-eye! Sometimes all it takes is a look to let them know you’re not having it! I usually send mommy a look when she won’t quit bugging me. I don’t need that pesky camera in my face while I’m getting my beauty sleep!

Here are two prime examples of the stink-eye:

Look at what you’ve done.

I’m trying to sleep here!

Mommy and I would like to try something new and a bit more interactive. If any of you guys have perfected the stink-eye as well we’d love to see it! Feel free to send me an email at:!

Sheltie Quirks: Barking

“Bark bark bark!” *body wag* “Bark bark bark!”

Ever wonder what makes a sheltie a sheltie? The quirks of course! I thought it would be fitting to spotlight some of the behaviours we’re most known for! Let’s start off with probably the most (in)famous one: barking.

I should begin by saying that we are all individuals and have unique traits that cannot be defined by a blanket description. However, there’s no denying that some traits are more prominent in certain breeds than others. These traits can be related to our development and the jobs of our ancestors.  For example, shelties are known for having a loud piercing bark which we’re not afraid to use. Since we are a herding breed, this would be helpful in both guiding and communicating with our hoomans.

Now, I’ve never seen a sheep and I’m sure the last thing I’d want to do is bark at it. I’m more of a rebel myself, preferring to be the quiet, mysterious type. I often get comments on how “well-behaved and quiet” I am! Here’s a little secret, I actually don’t like it when other dogs bark, I find it a bit scary which is why I don’t bark in public. I don’t want to scare anyone off, I want to say hello!

The doorbell, well that’s another story. Sometimes I think those darn hoomans don’t hear it, they never get up fast enough. So I take it upon myself to alert them. I even throw in my tough-guy bark just in case of stranger danger! That’ll scare-off any intruders and those that stay will get my special greeting of tail wags and kisses. I love visitors!

What was that? Squirrel? Where?! Oh, don’t get me started on those squirrels.. They come into my yard, so I go out to greet them. Will they come down the tree to say hello? Nope. I beg them to come play but they just sit in the tree. Their hearing must be worse than the hoomans so I try to bark and hop and bark to get their attention. So far, nothings worked, gotta come up with a new plan. Maybe I should learn how to climb trees..

Anyway, mommy has a few words to say about barking:

Hi guys, I just wanted to pop-in and say that, while Riley has never been much of a barker I have made it a priority to teach the “quiet” command. He has never barked at the strange things some sheltie owners report, like: coughs, sneezes, stretching, plastic bags, coffee makers, cars, moved/misplaced objects, the phone,washer, dryer and the list goes on.. His genetics and temperament may have a piece to play in this, but I also wanted to mention it has taken management.

When doing my research, I did notice that shelties were known for being barkers, so at an early age I made a point to teach the “quiet” command and limited barking as much as possible. While I do not mind barking at doorbells or at the squirrels during the day, in the mornings and at night I do not tolerate it. I do this for the sake of my neighbours, I don’t think anyone wants to be woken up by the sound of such a piercing bark, including myself. 

In sum, while shelties do tend be quite the barkers, management is possible.

(I’ll go into more detail about how I conditioned Riley not to bark sometime in the future.)

Long post. Here’s a picture of the thing that makes all the noise.