I had spent seven weeks or so trying to toilet-train my doggies, following advice given on this board and in various books and on-line material, to no avail. The toilet-training just wasn't working. They still peed and pood on the kitchen floor many times a day. As I'm back teaching in a month, I was worried that, at this rate, they wouldn't be toilet-trained by the time I went back to school. The hygiene implications of two untrained dogs in a house are... Considerable.

So, a few days ago, in desperation, I decided to give them a salary increase. The food treats that I gave them (Coachies) to lure them into their crates, teach them to sit down, teach them to come when called, teach them to give the paw and to roll over were clearly not working as far as toilet-training was concerned, even if they were proving very successful for everything else.

So I went out and bought several packets of good-quality cooked chicken.

First night, business was as usual. Business was slow. Second night, on their first outing, I thought I noticed an improvement in the cocker. Second night, on their second outing, both cavalier and cocker did a number one and a number two each while frantically eyeing the packet of chicken I was prominently displaying - within FIVE minutes!! I chalked it down to a possible fluke. Third night, first outing, both dogs frantically sniffed, circled and squatted while keeping their eyes glued to the chicken. Success! Third night, second outing, cavalier (who, at night time, normally does, at most, one pee and possibly one poo), did three wees and one poo - within four minutes! The last two times that she dropped the hind legs, only a drop or two came out! She was trying as hard as she could! She would probably have continued dropping her hind-legs indefinitely (in order go get more chicken) had I not put her inside the house to focus on the cocker, who, in turn, did two wees and one poo - within six or seven minutes!

It's hilarious to see the circus they put on, and the fake performances thrown in with the real ones, in a desperate endeavour to get some more chicken! Talk about a complete reversal of a situation!

Today, after four nights of the new increased reward regime, the dogs have grasped the idea: all I have to do is brandish the chicken, utter the command word, and they scurry around the garden in the most undignified of haste, frantically sniffing, circling and squatting and exceeding each other in an effort to do multiple "businesses" in rapid succession!

I don't think my cocker can be considered special needs any more - she just needed a change of tack. The cavalier, who hates wet grass, now has NO problems doing her business on wet grass, as she considers the reward outweighs the effort involved! The chicken costs me about 4 euros a day - I err on the side of over-generosity, and will gradually reduce the rewards involved.

My prediction is that they will be completely toilet-trained before I go back to school.