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The Leash: Public Enemy #1

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So here's the scoop. My dog walks four times a day. Lots and lots of exercise. One would think that after almost four months of daily walks, pup would be used to his leash by now ... sadly, no!

Most of the time, he's pretty good. He knows the "sit," "stay," "down," and "heel" commands pretty well. Most of the time when I'm walking him, the leash is loose and he's walking right beside me. Sometimes he'll quicken his step, but all I have to do is say "heel," and he slows down until he's walking beside me. Most of the time, when he ventures onto strange lawns (to sniff around ... not do crucial bodily functions), all I have to do is snap the leash, and he's once again by my side.

Most of the time....

Then there are the times that "crazy-eyes" kicks in. There are the times when pup becomes possessed by the idea that the leash must be eaten. He will not let go of the leash. He will bite it, growl at it, and pull at it. Puppy, now weighing in at almost 40 lbs, makes snapping the leash out of his mouth really difficult. Because I never stop walking -- don't want to go back -- for the next 30 minutes, "crazy-eyes" is growling, walking in front of me and pulling, barking, baring his teeth ... all the while holding the leash in his mouth.

I desperately try to remember what the trainer had told me. She said to try to snap the leash out of his mouth ... the logic being that if the dog finds it unpleasant, then he will stop doing it. Well, it's been four months of unpleasantness, but pup doesn't seem to mind. In fact it's become somewhat of a ritual. The trainer had told me to poke the pup ... take my thumb and two first fingers, create a cone (if you will), and jab the dog on its side. The idea is to "snap him out of it." Yeah well, either I'm doing it really softly, or the dog thinks I'm massaging him for his efforts, because it makes absolutely zero difference in his life. He hasn't even noticed.

Because pup wraps the leash around his snout and then puts it in his mouth, when I snap the leash the only result I get is either dragging pup closer to me, or making him jump high in the air. He loves this ... the higher he jumps, the more excited he gets ... the more excited he gets, the tighter the leash around his mouth ... the tighter the leash around his mouth, the higher he jumps ... it's a vicious circle.

Every now and then, a police car or a fire-truck will slow down to look at us. Sometimes, I will see the pity in their eyes ... no one feels sorry for pup, oh no ... he's in full control. They feel sorry for me! Every now and then, they'll turn their siren on ... just long enough to distract pup and, once distracted, we go on our regular walk as if the last 30 minutes never happened!

The ones I feel most sorry for are other people walking around us. While pup is growling, pulling and jumping up high, I'll see mothers gather their little children and cross the street. People waiting at bus stops will either enter the shelters, or go behind the shelters. Sometimes, people will give me a wide girth so I can get by with demon-dog (aka "crazy-eyes"). All the while, I look at them with a forced "nothing wrong here" smile. I tell them, "Oh don't worry, we're fine, it's all good!" They just nod at me with the same forced smile all the while crossing the street.

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