Linda Hemmann has tried spraying water.
She's tried bribing.
And, when frustrated, she broke down and yelled.
Nothing worked, and it all led to her carrying and coddling her 2-year-old dachshunds, sisters Sammy and Sadie.
With the ultimate goal of using Sammy and Sadie as therapy dogs, the occupational therapist sought help Monday night at the York County SPCA in Manchester Township.
"I've read books, but haven't been real consistent in any training," Hemmann, of Red Lion, said after attending the SPCA's two-hour introductory dog training class at the York County SPCA.
Trainer Deb Sangrey of the Dog Training Club of York helps frustrated and sometimes desperate dog owners learn the first steps of training their four-legged friends on the first Monday of every month at the SPCA.
Having all but given up on breaking Sammy and Sadie of their incessant licking and barking habits, Hemmann hopes she's finally found the answer she's been looking for after attending the class Monday night.
First embarrassed by Sammy's loud introduction to the class, Hemmann learned quickly that a loud dog in a training class will get a lot of attention.
Both Sammy and her owner learned early the first lesson of dog training -- vinegar water.
More precisely, a spray bottle filled with one-part chilled white vinegar and one-part cold water.
"Can you smell me?" Hemmann asked after the class.
Sammy, who barked at every dog in the class, quickly became a wet dog, being sprayed by Sangrey every time she barked.
Hemmann, who held Sammy for most of the class, took the dousing as well.
But 90 minutes and about 15 squirts later, Sangrey was able to lead Sammy around the room filled with dogs without a peep.
Just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, Hemmann took her turn leading her normally noisy dog around the room.
"I was embarrassed with how noisy and obnoxious (Sammy) was," Hemmann said. "I wouldn't say I was surprised by how well she did at the end of the class, I was just glad to see that with consistency her behavior can change.
Consistency is the first tip Sangrey will give to frustrated dog owners, along with making sure the dog knows its role in the world: to be a dog.
"All dogs are different, and we just want to give the basic information out there to dog owners," Sangrey said. "We want to help ease the transition and keep the dogs in their new homes."
In addition to teaching the free training classes, Sangrey and the Dog Training Club of York work with shelter dogs at the SPCA to make them more adoptable.
Zion, a pit bull mix, is a recent student of Sangrey and first-time trainer Chris Hivner.
Confidence issues, such as a fear of bathrooms, and his rambunctious nature helped make Zion less than appealing to prospective owners.
Hivner and Sangrey are hoping Zion -- who's now a certified Canine Good Citizen at the SPCA -- will be one of their next success stories.
"He's just an awesome guy," Sangrey said of Zion. "He would be a great dog for any family. I would love to see him go to a good home."
Interested families can meet Zion and all the pets up for adoption at the SPCA on Susquehanna Trail North.
Zion will also be able to meet with potential families at the SPCA's annual Spring Festival and Doggie Egg Hunt, which is 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at the shelter.
--- Feed your dog at consistent times to gain more control over when it uses the bathroom.
--- Encourage your dog to wait to be taken outside by crating it or confining it to a small area without carpet.
--- Take your dog out at regular times: after it wakes up, after it eats, after vigorous play and before bed.
--- When you take the dog out, use a leash. Say something such as "go potty" each time, and praise the dog when it does. Return to house if the dog doesn't go after five minutes, and try again 15 minutes later.
--- When your dog isn't in a crate, keep an eye on it, looking for behaviors such as circling, running around or barking that might signal it needs to use the bathroom.
--- Be patient -- each dog takes a different amount of time to learn.
Source: SPCA training seminar handout