Last week consisted mainly of trying to get Lily back to being a nice, sociable dog (success, the barking and bolting has stopped) and teaching Brian that if I ask for something and he does it something nice happens.
A reward should never be confused with a bribe. I praise the dogs when things are well, give them some fuss, spend some time playing with them or give them a treat. They get it after the good behaviour. It’s a marker of my approval, a sign I appreciate their efforts.
I expose them to stress, too -on purpose. The aim is to teach how to cope with situations they are not too sure about. Both Lily and Brian are fearful, Lily had some serious issues, though I guess the mixture of genes and their background levels it all up. Lily’s naturally curious and reactive, she’s more of a fighter, but her story is much sadder than Brian’s. Brian hasn’t got that many bad memories but he’s naturally much more shy.
So, Brian’s learning how to accept people. In various places, at various times, in various circumstances. Lily seems absolutely fine now, but I make sure she experiences new things and she stays calm and relaxed no matter how alien the situation.
And when we have to go to the vet and it’s not entirely nice we go for a super special trip and we keep sniffing the fading scent of hares, squirrels and other monsters till all the bad memories disappear. Because, all in all, the world is a beautiful place and it’s good to be alive.