So here I am, a full fledged puppy owner for just under five months now. I've taken pup to training classes, I've tried positive reinforcement, I've ignored the dog, I've tried to be dominant, but every single time, the "walk" has always been a nightmare.
When we first got pup, he weighed in at 11 pounds. He was light enough to drag around on his leash, but he never made it easy for me. He would turn his back on me. I would try everything to get him to turn around, but he wouldn't budge. As he got older, he would firmly plant his front paws on the ground. I couldn't pull him even if I used all of my strength. Believe me, at 130 pounds, I was sure I could outweigh a pup -- oh how wrong I was.
Then as he started getting bigger and bigger, he not only pulled me down the street, but if he saw another dog and got excited, he would pull away on his leash so hard that it made choking noises on his throat. Of course, being the conscientious owner that I was, I would loosen my grip in order to not "damage his vocal chords." Of course I would never damage them, hubby knew it, son knew it, heck, even puppy knew it. However, pup would play the choking card just so that I would run along beside him and accommodate his wily ways.
For a while, the walking got better. Pup would walk very well with me. Occasionally, "crazy-eyes" would kick in and he'd put every (used) Kleenex he could find on the road into his mouth... but those frustrating times were few and far between. Then something crazy happened: Pup turned six months old, and all the training, walking, and disciplining that we had done in the last four months flew out the window. Pup no longer came when he was called and he started biting his leash again (we bought yet another one -- number seven I believe). He continually pulled us and tried to get onto every lawn in the city. Absolutely everything went into his mouth. In short, our lovely six month-old pup became that two month-old brat again. The only difference, however, was that pup was no longer 11 pounds. Weighing in at over 41 pounds, pup was getting harder and harder to control.
"This can't be happening," I cried to my husband, "I feel like we're going backwards instead of moving forward." My hubby quickly got online and discovered that pups often go through a rebellious stage at six months. Call it the "terrible twos," call it "rebellious teens," all I knew was that pup was getting harder and harder to control.
Now, two things happen when you're walking down the street with a demon-dog. Either, people look at you with sympathy and try to console you by telling you he'll grow out of it by two years old, or they give you unsolicited advice. Hubby and I seem to get a lot of the latter. People have told us to control our pup with treats (as if demon-dog needs more sugar in his system). People have also told us to use the "soft-pull" muzzle, which we went out and bought. Of course we probably didn't put it on correctly and pup had chewed right through it in the time it took for us to close the garage door and make it down to the end of our driveway.
I refused to walk him for a while -- it was just too frustrating. Pup pulled and pulled. I was always prying garbage out of his mouth. Just two days ago, he jumped up and put his head in a trash bin by a bus stop and came out with a pack of empty cigarettes! I've been bitten several times as I tried to pry his jaw open. I pulled the pack out piece by piece. It was horrible -- I kept imagining my dog taking up that terrible habit!
Then, just yesterday, I turned to my hubby during our morning coffee and suggested we get a harness. He gave me a "what do we have to lose?" look, and off we went to buy one. As soon as we came back home, we put it on pup. I took the leash and led the way -- and it was the walk from heaven!
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