The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I am beating my brains out attempting to keep my dog from barking. And I finally have a method that has a fairly decent amount of success. I read about it online as a method for keeping cats from doing things you don't want them to do, like climbing on the table. Well, my dog is, I'm fairly certain, convinced she's a cat, so why not give it a try? It's not like anything else has worked recently.
The way it's supposed to work is when the cat (or in this case, Choo Choo) exhibits bad behavior, you squirt the nose with a mixture of three parts water to one part lemon juice. It's not painful, so the article claims, but I only went half way on this one. I bought a blue spray bottle for Padawan to use and a pink one for me, and I filled them with H2O, straight up.
It only took three days to break Choo Choo of the habit of barking the second she got out the door to announce her presence. She stopped barking at things she thought she saw in the distance. She stopped barking when she heard doors opening in other apartments, cars starting, and horns beeping. She stopped barking at people driving by. One day we walked right behind a young man and she didn't bark once to get his attention. Padawan reported having a much less stressful time walking her.
Now my only problem is keeping her from going barking mad when she sees a dog while on her walks. When she's on the balcony now, she's quiet. But on walks with another dog, she goes right back to her old behavior and no amount of spraying the nose or the face or scolding or bribing with treats will make her stop. It's like a halfway there kind of thing. Or maybe seventy five percent there.
And I'm thinking...maybe if I added the lemon juice, the problem would be fixed.
Or citronella. They sell dog collars online that spray citronella into the dog's face every time he/she barks, so I imagine putting it into a spray bottle would be just as effective, and easier since the smallest dog collars like that would be too bulky for Choo Choo to wear effectively.
Either way, shock collars are definitely out.
I know this is negative reinforcement and it's what you're not supposed to do, but since positive reinforcement training only worked for a week with each method or less, I had no alternative. (Aside from paying two hundred dollars for a personal trainer, and I didn't want to spend that much for a habit she only recently picked up.)
I'm still pretty convinced that if we could just take Clueless's dog for a while to get Choo Choo used to being around other dogs, she might relearn the correct social behavior that she used to know but seems to have forgotten. (Or it could go the other way and Sausage could pick up Choo Choo's recently picked up bad habit, but Corgis are notoriously smart dogs, so I think it would be the other way around. (Then again, Chihuahuas are usually smart dogs, according to my vet, and yet Choo Choo does some pretty dumb things.)
But even with this not quite there success, the amount of success we have had makes Padawan much less cranky about having to take Choo Choo out for walks when he gets home. It's no longer a battle between us where I finally win when I say, "If you don't take her out she'll either have an accident you'll have to clean up, or she'll hold it and wind up with a urinary tract infection. If the first, you deserve it, if the second...you're taking her to the vet and paying for the urine test and the antibiotics."
Hard to argue with that, isn't it?
Still, I don't miss the battle.
Speaking of battles, the world is such a nice place when I can come home and there isn't a pile of dishes right in front of my face because the dishes were done last night. Yes, even though I hate doing it, that ten minutes every night of dislike is easily outstripped by the hours of happiness in a perfectly clean apartment.
There is happiness in the small things.