I really wish I had a paparazzi film crew that would follow me around and get those darn moments I miss, on film. It’s too hard to video and deal with a crazy puppy, plus another dog all at the same time, so you will have to bear with my colourful re-enactment by the written word below.
So it was windy on Thursday. Not like regular windy, more like hurricane-ish windy. I really didn’t think anything of it, other than I wanted the wind to go away because I hate it. So I suited two dogs up, and away we went for a walk in the tornado-hurricane wind, without a care in the world.
We got about 5 minutes into the walk and the leashes really started to really whip around like those wacky, inflatable balloon weirdo things outside car dealships. Now, leashes that whip around in the wind, well, they look a lot like flying tug toys,A LOT. One dog could care less, at 5 years old, there is a possibility that he is finally mature, though the jury is still out on that one. The other, well, a 6 month old terrier puppy finds leashes whipping around in the hurricane force gales, delightfully fun to chase and tug.
So there I was with a bored bulldogge in one hand, and a now whipping around puppy in the other, hell bent on killing the leash she had managed to snare. This became an enormously fun game for her, because what terrier puppy, in their right mind, would refuse to grab and annihilate an object blowing coyly in front of their face? I say none, but maybe there is one that I don’t know of. So within 5 minutes of a walk, I had become that owner with the bad, bad puppy pulling violently on their leash and not letting go, growling at me, and having a good ‘ole time playing keep away.
First off, I will say, this can happen to the best of us, the most experienced, the most diligent the most whatever you’d like to insert here, of us. She was latched on like a great white who found a lone, delicious surfer covered in BBQ sauce cruising the ocean, but here’s where things might differ from experience to inexperience in these situations. I decided instead of fighting her on it, because oh she was ready for a fight, I would use this as an opportunity to do some training and play. Now, I do not recommend using your leash as a tug toy, but it was my only option in this case, so I went ahead and got creative … why not, I had nothing to loose.
We had a game of tug with the leash, like a really good game that she enjoyed the heck out of, you could tell. The bonus of this is, puppy has a decent OUT command, so this is where what could have been the most frustrating, windy walk ever, turned into an amazing training session for focus and control. We outted the leash a couple times within the “game” so that she understood I was in charge, but that I was still willing to have some fun, and then we took it to the field.
After a moment of zoomies, because bulldogge maturity is at best, questionable, we down stayed said bulldogge in the grass (whose pleasure it is anyway to eat and roll in the stuff, regardless of if its fresh or dead) and proceeded to play with the leash. This time, however, it was on my word whether or not she could grab it, basically a “work for me first, and then I’ll pay you” type of scenario, but this time with a leash, ugh, and not food or toys.
Heeling, sits, downs and stays were our focus, along with outs. And heck yeah, she needed a leash pop or two because the wind, who is not my friend, continued to taunt her with any part of the leash that I left too loose and tempting to bite. But in a situation, with a truly high drive dog, those things can and do happen, and the little critters need reminders at times. But our focus was mainly on the game/training and not trying to correct a behaviour that in itself, was hilariously entertaining. Man she’s got springs in her legs.
Anyway, she was excellent in the obedience, and this being our actual first time training outdoors like this, in a different area other than home, I will thrilled. We played and trained for a little while, while the bulldogge, who must have four stomachs like a cow, continued to munch the grass contentedly, and then finished off and made our way back home. So what was headed towards disastrous walk, was thwarted and turned into a positive and very productive training session.
So what the heck is the point in me telling you all of this? It’s certainly not to toot my own horn, because there is no horn to toot here clearly. I let my dog tug on the leash, that’s not toot worthy. My number one point, as mentioned previously, is this sort of situation can happen to the best of us, regardless of how diligent, regimented or consistent we are with our puppies. My other number one point (can I have two?) is that puppies (and dogs) are not perfect. In fact, on a personal level, I prefer my dogs not to be perfect at this young of age, or any age for that matter. I like a little independence, a little self-decision making, a lot of tenacity and with all that comes dogs who will question and test you, but that just makes it more entertaining, challenging and fun. So with them not being perfect, especially at such a young age, we need to learn to work with them, not against them, when situations come up where their puppy tenacity and button-pushiness (likely also not a real word) takes over.
I have a third point, which I guess is technically a second point since I have two first points, and that is, I implore you to be creative with your puppies. We all end up in situations where puppies act out, embarrass us, and just plain act like knobs. If, instead of getting angry or frustrated, you tried some creativity and patience, remembering they are like small children, who need both, then you will come out of the situation much better off than when you went in and no damage will be done to the relationship.
Final point, which is point three, maybe four, depending on how you count, is it NEVER hurts, and only helps to bring food and possibly a tug toy on a walk. I typically have food in my pockets when dealing with puppies and young dogs … not like sandwiches and stuff because that would be odd, but dog treats or dog food, but alas, that day, I neglected to fill up. If I had the food, or a tug toy, the whole entire situation with the leash could have been adverted by redirecting said puppy, with a possibly correction or two, into a session with an actual toy or food, instead of the leash.
Ah well, live and learn. I actually, maybe insanely, enjoy these ridiculous moments now. I never did in the past, however, over the many years of dealing with dogs and puppies, I’ve come to very much enjoy the small things, the dogginess of them, the fact that they have a keen sense of humour and the fact that sometimes (a lot of the times) they are smarter than us. They’re only puppies once and I say, enjoy the heck out of the puppiness while you can because it doesn’t last long.