02/07/2013 10:59 am ET Updated Apr 07, 2013

I'm at the End of My Leash

So here I am again, hapless puppy owner... ooh sorry, I meant clueless puppy owner. We've had our 9-month-old for seven months now. He's gone from being a terror to being one of the family (well, within reason of course... most of the humans in our family don't chew on the sofa or the baseboards... well, at least not when they're sober).

Inside the house he's a little angel. When he's not in a deep sleep, he's usually playing with one of his toys. Sometimes he'll curl up next to one of us and lick our hands and legs. He loves to get pet... a lot. Occasionally, he'll run circles around the house and try to annihilate a pillow or bedspread, but for the most part, he's pretty good. Even when I'm alone in the house with him, he's really calmed down from that biting beastie he used to be.

ut, outside of the house, things aren't as smooth.

When hubby or son walk him, he is a dream dog. Other owners stop and marvel at how well behaved such a young pup can be. Total strangers stop to talk to them and ask them for the secrets to their success. When I am holding the leash, but still walking with either hubby or son, pup may pull a bit and try to get onto every lawn within a 20-km radius, but he's still pretty much OK. A quick tug on the leash and most times he's beside me again. The real problem is when I walk him alone. Without the comfort of testosterone, pup goes completely nuts. The second the garage door opens, he tries to make a run for it. I've learned over the months to make sure we don't leave the house unless he is in a completely submissive state. Sometimes, I'll just stand there, leash in hand, the garage door up, pup and I standing on the threshold. I won't leave until he's calm. Luckily this no longer takes too long. Luckier still, because with the windchill, it's been -30 this week. Occasionally, my hubby will open the door leading from the garage into the home, and he'll scream out something about the house freezing up. Of course, with my hat, earmuffs, hoodie, and hooded ski jacket, all I hear is a muffle that sounds a bit like a squeaky toy. It's not until I notice his red face and his hand pointing to the thermostat, that I've realized I've been letting -30 degrees into the house for about 10 minutes!!! But hey, I figure that's the price to pay for leaving the comfort of my home with a calm dog.

This calmness does not last very long!! The second the garage door is down, the leash is in pup's mouth. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it. He gets into this trance-like state. His eyes glaze over. All he sees is the leash and he must bite it. He wraps it around his head so that I can't pull it out of his mouth. He just growls and barks and pulls. The only time he lets go is when he takes a moment to relieve himself. Then it's back to all the biting and pulling. I can't stand it. He gets so hyper and excited when he's doing this that he will not hear any command. I'll try using the words he knows... I'll try snapping it out of his mouth. Nothing. He pulls and pulls and pulls. He pulls in front of me, he pulls next to me, he pulls behind me. Actually, I think he's either broken or sprained my pinkie. This happened when I was holding the looped portion of the leash and he quickly pulled without any warning. My little finger snapped back. This happened a week ago and it still makes a little snapping noise when I move it around.

Our walks are barely around the block. To do the math, I'm 130 lbs. Pup is close to 53 lbs. When he uses all his might to yank, he propels me in every direction conceivable. The only thing that stops him from going any further is that once he reaches the end of the leash, he flips back in the opposite direction, turning me back and forth like a weather vane!!! When I try to rein him in, he just pulls the leash over his snout and grabs the rest of it in his mouth. This happens every single time we go out!!! I have come to the end of my leash at this point.

People walking past us blush when they hear the names I call him. Logically, I know that dogs don't understand words, so my screaming at him is useless. Also, I know that dogs sense when you've lost control, so I know it's in my best interest to remain calm. But I just can't!! This adorable ball of fluff has turned me into a blubbering idiot on the street.

Finally, today I had just had it!! I knew that due to circumstances in my home (namely football!!), the men in my house would not be walking pup today. I knew that I'd be walking him for three of his four walks. I was bracing myself for the worst. Well, that first walk I had was horrible. I came home 10 minutes later in tears. Once inside the house, pup became that adorable family pet that we all loved. A few hours later, I started dreading that second walk.

Well, once again, as soon as the garage door went down, pup had leash in his mouth. I walked just long enough for him to void and then I started heading for home. He began pulling and pulling. I couldn't take it (plus broken finger was throbbing). I just stopped walking, turned toward him and kept walking toward him, into him. The more he hopped away, the more I kept walking into him. At one point I had him cornered into some bushes. Still I kept walking into him, changing his path with my body. Then I noticed that the leash was no longer in his mouth. He was walking where I wanted him to go!! By then, we were home, but I was curious to see what our last walk would be like.

Well, I just got home from our last walk. Yes, he pulled quite a bit, but, there was absolutely no leash-biting. We walked about 40 minutes and I almost enjoyed it!! Now, it might just be a coincidence, but, just to be sure, tomorrow afternoon, when I take him out, I'll see if I can use my body again to make him stop biting the leash.

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