On Thursday, Bartlett will have been with us two years.
She was such a difficult dog to train, we seriously thought about giving up and taking her back to the dog pound. And we're good trainers!
The only way it even worked out was because of positive reinforcement. Do something right, you get a little tasty treat. Do something wrong, and we will try to correct you. We wore a treat bag on our waist, filled with yummy crumbs of liver bombs to hand out as needed.
I have seen Bartlett in the deepest psychic pain (Cranky was out of the room in a strange hotel.) To keep her from whimpering, I just slipped her a crumb every time she was quiet for a few seconds. And before you know it, she fell asleep beside me on the bed.
It has been a long, long slog. Her youthfulness and genetic fizzy nature meant we were still in high training mode at 18 months. Then one day she seemed to get it. "They like me more when I do certain things the right way."
She never got yelled at, never got a slap on the rump. (Though we have had to say some things sternly.)
I'm writing this because we recently got new neighbors next door. Younger than us, probably never really be friends. The two adults take care of the man's little kids several times a week; some shared custody deal. They are really nice.
But the guy yells at their dog when he's unhappy with its behavior. And, yes, he yells at his kids.
I don't think he's even close to terrorizing them, but I wish I could share my story about positive reinforcement.
You don't just lean over the fence and offer that kind of help, though. Sigh.