We all reach our limits sometimes. In patience. In knowledge. In instinct. I reach mine and Hurley reaches his. And some days all of that collides into the perfect storm. Hurley and I ended our bad day yesterday with some good cuddling time and a doggie massage. It was a great way to make amends.
I've got a new plan. First, he is going to be fed most of his meals in the store, earning his kibble (thanks for the great suggestion, Of Pitbulls & Patience!). This is such a great idea and I can see how I can use that when I'm cooking or any other time I need him to settle down at home too. Don't you just want to smack your forehead sometimes? It seems so simple - why didn't I think of that? It's not always going to be simple though, that I know. Hurley and I will still have our frustrations with each other but we'll both get better at communicating with each other too. And I'll get better at finding ways to encourage the behavior I want to see.
In the midst of bad days, we often forget any bright spots. We have been working on Go Lay Down to his blanket under the counter. For the first time, he did go to his spot when I was checking out a customer without being asked. I should've remembered that!
And the clicker has been great at adding space between the behavior I want and the treat. He has gotten better at obeying without a treat in hand and we've made considerable progress on taking a treat gently.
In one way, Hurley is exactly like Maggie & Sadie - he is making me learn and grow to help him become the best dog he can be. That means growing pains for all of us. Today, I take a deep breath and a step back from the frustrations of the other day. I reset and move forward. This barky, whiny, never-behaving phase? It too will pass and it's my job to make sure he's got the tools to be a great dog when it does.