I've always prided myself in being a dog person. I'm pretty intuitive to their needs and have always felt in control of my dogs in the past. Sydney, however, is a different story. She was a street dog that my son rescued a few years ago. She was less than a year old, full of fleas and growled at everyone that came near her. Needless to say, I wasn't happy and wanted him to find her a home. He worked with her and eventually, she won me over. Now, I can't imagine her not being a part of my life. She is my sweet-pea.
Sydney is a mixed breed, we guess that she's got some Beagle in her and some lab, maybe. She weighs about 30 pounds. Whatever her mix is, she has some very strong personality traits. She's affectionate, smart, protective, and determined to be the leader of the pack. That last part is where we have some problems because I tend to be a softie until I realize I'm getting run over and have to remind her who is really in charge.
So, we started walking and with the retractable leash all the way out, I let her run here and there and pee on every clump of grass or bush or stick or whatever she felt needed a little pee. It always amazed me that she could pee so much. Sometimes, we would encounter other dogs and their walkers and Sydney would stop and stare and whine and lunge toward them. I thought this was normal until lately, her lunge started looking more like a marlin jumping out of the sea at the end of a fishing cable, twisting and flying into the air! And along with all the jumping crap was this fierce cujo-esque growling. Scary and embarrassing - all at the same time! What if she broke free? Would she fight the dog or bite it's owner? What if she pulled me down? What the crap?! Then I thought, well, maybe it's just certain dogs. Nope, she started this behavior with every dog we came across. Even little tiny dogs. I had to either get control of this or stop walking her and I didn't want to stop walking her. She needs to walk as much as I do to get healthy.
I found this article "Behaviors to Avoid During the Walk" to be quite an eye-opener to what I'd been letting Sydney do on our daily walks. She was apparently marking out her territory and protecting it. I'm not letting her pee on everything on our walks and I take her to a certain spot and tell her "go potty" and she does. Walking isn't as much fun right now, but it wasn't fun seeing her turn into cujo, either. It will take time, but I think our walks will be more enjoyable when it becomes just a walk instead of a territorial marking fest.
Enjoy your weekend!