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Miles Bit My Roommate On A Walk... Resource Guarding?


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Guest greytmiles

Wow. We are having quite a week with Mr. Miles. :( First there was the cat incident, and now he's bitten my roommate when we were out for our morning walk. I'm starting to feel like a complete dunce/failure as a dog owner... for real.

 

We were out for our morning walk, and it's a normal occurrence for both of us to walk him. There was a sandwich in the middle of the sidewalk, I did the usual LEAVE IT, but Miles grabbed it before I could stop him. So as I've done in the past, I opened his mouth and at my request my roommate took most of the sandwich out (this double-teaming technique had not been done before). Roommate knelt down to wipe his hand on the grass and I pulled out another small piece of sandwich. I'm behind Miles holding his leash, roommate is to his side, the sandwich is back on the sidewalk.

 

Miles starts growling/sneering and then lunges for the sandwich again (i was shocked... this was the first time I've ever heard him growl except for the rare, quiet warning growl (if he's laying down and doesn't want to be loved on). My roommate holds his collar to try and help me control him, I have the leash attached to his harness. Miles is growling and sneering, I tell roommate to let go of collar (thinking Miles felt threatened maybe). Miles is still growling, sneering and going for that sandwich (I'm still doing vocal reprimand... LEAVE IT... so forth).

 

Roommate goes to kick sandwich with his foot to move it further from Miles, and Miles lunges and bites roommate on upper thigh (ripping hole in pants leaving four teeth marks and scrapes... no punctures). My roommate jumps back as Miles also goes for his arm and tears a hole in his jacket. My shocked roommate walked away and I'm totally dumbfounded and frankly, scared. Kind of panicking and not sure what to do, I let Miles eat the sandwich :youcrazy .. in that moment I was worried he might turn on me if I'd continued reprimanding him and trying to pull him away. Soooo essentially I rewarded him for biting my roommate.... awesome. The whole thing probably happened in under 2 min.

 

I walked Miles down the block, he was acting 100% normally now, he peed... we walked back home. My roommate came downstairs and Miles wagged his tail as always when he sees him. To date they've had a great relationship. Miles is always asking for pets and play from him.

 

If any of you can provide insight into what precisely might have caused the bite, or any advice of what I should have done differently that would be very helpful. I've tried to be 100% honest about the situation - if I've made mistakes, it's better I know about them.

 

Jeez louis.

Thanks guys,

Erin

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Guest 4dogscrazy
:grouphug I don't have a lot of advice about the particular incident, and if I remember the kitty link correctly, you have already had him checked over by a vet. But I think you need a FULL thyroid panel done for this boy! So sorry this is happening to you, hang in there! Edited by 4dogscrazy
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Thyroid panel? The dog wanted food, the roommate made a threatening gesture (kicking at the sandwich) and the dog bit him.

 

Medical issue doesn't even make my top ten list of possible causes.

 

Harnesses are great at keeping a dog from slipping a collar, but they allow the biting parts to be freely out and about. For that very reason, I rarely use George's harness, as he is not other breed friendly, and I find that I have ZERO control over the only dangerous part with a harness.

 

Most any dog will go after food. Imagine it from his perspective--there's tasty food just laying there. He does the natural thing--tries to eat it. He's yelled at and man handled by two people. They manage to get it away, and he can still see it. He goes back for it, and sees a leg flying out. How is he supposed to know your roommate is kicking the sandwich and not him???

 

I'd say his reaction, although unacceptable, is pretty darned natural. And if you really need to spend money, I'd suggest you spend it on some sessions with a behaviorist and not on a thyroid panel.

 

I'm sorry this happened, but I also suspect if Miles had actually wanted to hurt your roommate, there would have been a much worse bite. This sounds like self-defense FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE.


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Guest BellesDad

I don't have much advice, but I am trying to get Miles perspective. He found the equivalent of a juicy steak and 2 members of the pack challenged him for it. I don't think this makes him a bad dog. Someone here will know about Alpha and pecking order etc. I am glad you are being patient with him.

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OW! I hope your roommate is OK.

 

I still wouldn't rush to get a thyroid panel. Contrary to what often appears on this board, an aggressive dog is *less* likely to be hypothyroid than a nonaggressive dog. And in any case, you haven't experienced generic aggression. (You can get a thyroid panel if you want to, certainly no harm in it. But for a greyhound, you really need the full banana with TSH and endocrinologist's interpretation. That's expensive, and most greyhound owners' $$ are better spent on, say, a clicker training class or a couple of Patricia McConnell's books.)

 

What you've experienced is resource guarding. Imagine that you were jonesing for a steak, went to a nice restaurant, ordered one, got it -- oooooooooooooooh, the aroma rising from the plate before you! -- you cut a piece and put it in your mouth ... and all of a sudden your dining companion and the waiter grabbed you, wrenched your mouth open, and pulled the tidbit from between your teeth. What would *you* do? Would you sit there quietly and passively while these things were going on?

 

Couple things I would do:

 

1. Unless Miles has a neck injury, I'd clip the leash to a martingale collar. If you're worried about him freaking out and backing out of the collar, get a little strap to connect the collar to the harness. But keep the primary leash on the collar where you have more control. Short leash so he just barely has slack to sniff around, get a foot ahead of / behind you. Sniffing at an innocent tree or patch of grass, pay the leash out a bit, reel it back in when he's done.

 

2. If you run into spoiled food a lot on your walks, walk him with his basket muzzle on for the time being. Meanwhile ....

 

3. Work on "leave it!" training at home, where you can control the environment. Essence of this is starting with something that he doesn't want (non food item), and rewarding him for walking past it -- which of course he'll do ... working your way up to a dog biscuit, chicken strip, etc., the ignoring of which you'll reward by giving him something even better (liver, hot dog slice, etc.).

 

Best luck!

 

ETA: GeorgeOfNE and I were posting at the same time. Agree with her post 100%.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
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You really are having some kind of week there (I just really quick read your cat story too). I can imagine you're feeling really frazzled right now. Anyway, with this particular incident, try not to feel too bad about it, because based on what you described, Miles' behavior sounds pretty expected to me. There's a couple things that come to mind for me. First, it sounds like you've had him not quite 3 months? In the big picture, that is still really early in terms of him getting used to things and learning what is appropriate behavior and dealing with his new world. But one thing I've seen in a few of the greys that I've fostered, is roughly in that time frame (a couple months or so), they start getting to a level of comfort where they're more willing to push the limits in terms of their actions and behaviors. So where before, they showed no interest in the food on top of the kitchen table, they suddenly are counter surfing. Or maybe a little more applicable here, before, it was much easier to distract the dog on a walk when he sees something he wants, now, it's much harder to pull him away from that thing in that bush.

 

So that's sort of a more general view of the situation. More specifically, here, it makes total sense that Miles reacted that way. As soon as he got his mouth around that sandwich, it was HIS. And everything you did to try and take it away from him definitely triggered his resource guarding instinct. In the past, even though you were able to pry his mouth open and take something like this away, he probably didn't like it and likely gave you some subtle warning signs (maybe a lip snarl, licking his nose, turning his head away, a growl you couldn't hear..). In the subsequent times, he may have continued to give you slightly escalated warnings (low growls, etc.). So this may have been the point where he finally said, that's it. I've warned you plenty of times before and you didn't listen - hence the growl and bite. Keep in mind that having two of you taking the sandwich away would have probably felt even more threatening to him.

 

What's not clear to me is whether or not you've trained him the "leave it" command in conjunction with a trade-up approach. When a dog grabs something as amazing as a used sandwich or a dead bird, that "leave it" command needs to be really worth it to the dog. If you've taught it using a trading up approach, it's more likely that it'll stick. Also, it can take awhile for the leave-it training to really sink in, *especially* for extremely high value things.

 

So really, the more important questions is, what could you have done differently here? In the long term, you'd definitely want to continue working on the leave it command (and do it by the trade-up method). In this particular situation, given a dog who kind of knows leave it, but not to the point where he'd listen to me if he got something really good, and given that he got something that I *really* did not want him to eat (something that was a danger to his health), then I'd pry his mouth open too (making sure to wrap his lips around his teeth to discourage him from biting down), pull that thing out and throw it far away, and then move us away from there (get us walking) immediately. Once we're moving, I might get him to do a basic trick (look at me, touch my hand, etc.) and then give him a treat to get his mind re-focused on something else.

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Guest 4dogscrazy

Okay in my defense, the reason I suggested the panel is because this is his second bad agressive experience in a week. And it wasn't like a quick snap, he actually got up, crossed the room and attacked the cat. (if I remember the story correctly) And I understand him biting the leg, but AFTER that going after the arm? Sounded extreme to me. Do you think he was attacking your roommate? Would he have stopped if he was not on a leash? He seems really aggessive to me, which is a shock, to me at least. I guess I always jump to a medical clear first, then work on behavior. But...that's why we all come here, to get different opinions! :colgate

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Guest PhillyPups

I am glad your roomie is not worse, he could have been. I am also glad it does not sound like there is animosity between you all over this. But an incident does leave one quite shaken.

 

I agree with Batmom and GeorgeOfNE on this along with Rally. One thing that could have been done (for future reference and with gained experience) would be to have the leash totally tight to you and walk in the other direction. I believe he was totally focused on his pleasure treasure.

 

Personally, I do not feel I have enough control of my dogs with a harness and prefer a well fitted martingale collar, or as said before the combination of both.

 

Good luck. Time, consistency and patience is the key to training him.

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Susan and Jey were right on with this one. Both incidents with Miles this week are perfectly natural from a dogs perspective. Dogs chase cats and dogs go after food lying around, it's just the nature of being a dog. Unless trained not to, they do what comes naturally so to speak. I would immediately start training him those important commands such as sit, stay, leave it, down and so forth. I would also start kitty training from the beginning.

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Guest Swifthounds

OW! I hope your roommate is OK.

 

I still wouldn't rush to get a thyroid panel. Contrary to what often appears on this board, an aggressive dog is *less* likely to be hypothyroid than a nonaggressive dog. And in any case, you haven't experienced generic aggression. (You can get a thyroid panel if you want to, certainly no harm in it. But for a greyhound, you really need the full banana with TSH and endocrinologist's interpretation. That's expensive, and most greyhound owners' $$ are better spent on, say, a clicker training class or a couple of Patricia McConnell's books.)

 

What you've experienced is resource guarding. Imagine that you were jonesing for a steak, went to a nice restaurant, ordered one, got it -- oooooooooooooooh, the aroma rising from the plate before you! -- you cut a piece and put it in your mouth ... and all of a sudden your dining companion and the waiter grabbed you, wrenched your mouth open, and pulled the tidbit from between your teeth. What would *you* do? Would you sit there quietly and passively while these things were going on?

 

Couple things I would do:

 

1. Unless Miles has a neck injury, I'd clip the leash to a martingale collar. If you're worried about him freaking out and backing out of the collar, get a little strap to connect the collar to the harness. But keep the primary leash on the collar where you have more control. Short leash so he just barely has slack to sniff around, get a foot ahead of / behind you. Sniffing at an innocent tree or patch of grass, pay the leash out a bit, reel it back in when he's done.

 

2. If you run into spoiled food a lot on your walks, walk him with his basket muzzle on for the time being. Meanwhile ....

 

3. Work on "leave it!" training at home, where you can control the environment. Essence of this is starting with something that he doesn't want (non food item), and rewarding him for walking past it -- which of course he'll do ... working your way up to a dog biscuit, chicken strip, etc., the ignoring of which you'll reward by giving him something even better (liver, hot dog slice, etc.).

 

Best luck!

 

ETA: GeorgeOfNE and I were posting at the same time. Agree with her post 100%.

 

Couldn't have said it better myself.

 

I'll just add that you shouldn't waste time beating yourself up emotionally about the bite, the sandwich, or the aftermath. Use this as a learning tool and assess the situation only in terms of what you'd do differently next time. You'll need to be strong, assertive, and a calm leader to work on Miles' training issues. You can't do that if you wear yourself down. You can't change what has happened, only how you deal with it from here.

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In complete agreement with Susan, Jey etc.

 

I love harnesses as a safety tool for spooky hounds. Even then I use them in combination with a martingale. They don't give you the immediate control you need especilly in situations like this.

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So sorry this happened. You guys are having quite a week. I'm on my first and only greyhound. So I don't think I can give broad advice - but I do know what works for me. When I'm walking Maggie, she's in a martingale. I just don't feel in control with a harness. I adjust the collar to fit correctly every time I put it on her (which is only for walks). She only gets 6-12" of leash - because we're out for a walk, not a sniff and the martingale is always "engaged" on her neck(in the correct position with a bit of tension) We walk with purpose and direction - that I determine. You'll learn Miles signs that he needs to potty - and then you decide the spot. There is no way on God's green planet that Maggie could lunge/go for anything - food in the road, a bunny, etc. I am attentive to everything that's going on and coming towards us. And I need to walk this way because she has a high prey drive. And not to start on the alpha thing - but she knows I'm in charge. That has carry over into house life too. Hope any of this helps. :rolleyes:

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You have had quite a week, yes? You must feel overwhelmed and disheartened, but you are not a failure! It is clear from your postings that you are a caring and conscientious owner. I learned the hard way about resource guarding when I reached in to take a raw bone out of Seamus's mouth a long while back. I never did that again. Not only was I shocked and scared by his aggressive reaction, but I also felt hurt that he could do that to me. We started "leave it" training right away, and it made a huge difference. We haven't had any problems since then.

 

Good luck and hang in there. I know it is all compounded by Miles' cat issues as well. Whatever you decide, you have a lot of support here and many good wishes coming your way.

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I agree that Miles' problem is likely behavioral rather than medical, but for him to actually attack your roommate - snarling, showing teeth, biting the leg and going after the arm - is extremely unusual in my experience. I would be very concerned about this unacceptable behavior - it shows a lack of bite inhibition and a total lack of respect for you as the person on the controlling end of the leash, and for your roommate as a human (and a male to boot!) in general. I really wish you hadn't let him eat the sandwich, but you already recognize your mistake there: rewarding bad behavior. If you don't get this under control then he's potentially unsafe with anyone that may get between him and something he wants.

 

You and Miles are new to each other, and I think he's a strong-willed dog that's testing his boundaries. Ideally, the negative behavior needs to be corrected strongly at the moment it happens to prevent it from happening again or escalating. Since that moment has passed you should work on the underlying issue that caused it in the first place. If Miles were mine I would immediately begin some training. There are a few articles pinned in the Greyt Information portion of this board entitled "Who's in Charge Here?", "The Importance of Being Alpha" and "Nothing in Life Is Free" that would be great place to start.

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Guest Harry702

I agree that Miles' problem is likely behavioral rather than medical, but for him to actually attack your roommate - snarling, showing teeth, biting the leg and going after the arm - is extremely unusual in my experience. I would be very concerned about this unacceptable behavior - it shows a lack of bite inhibition and a total lack of respect for you as the person on the controlling end of the leash, and for your roommate as a human (and a male to boot!) in general. I really wish you hadn't let him eat the sandwich, but you already recognize your mistake there: rewarding bad behavior. If you don't get this under control then he's potentially unsafe with anyone that may get between him and something he wants.

 

I agree with this. While it's true that most dogs would be upset about having a tasty treat pried from their grip, I do think that Miles' behavior is a little on the extreme side. This incident, along with the cat incident, would lead me to believe that something is off kilter in Miles' world. Not sure if you're moving too fast with his acclimation, if he's testing boundaries, or if there is a medical explanation (dogs who are sick or injured are often more "grumpy," same as humans). If I were you, I'd slow down with Miles... watch him from a bit of a distance for a week or so... let him come to you if he's interested in affection. Otherwise, leave him be... (obviously, take care of his basic needs). Any interaction you (or the roommate) have with Miles needs to be positive.

 

Best of luck.

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Guest earlkattangrey

 

You and Miles are new to each other, and I think he's a strong-willed dog that's testing his boundaries. Ideally, the negative behavior needs to be corrected strongly at the moment it happens to prevent it from happening again or escalating. Since that moment has passed you should work on the underlying issue that caused it in the first place. If Miles were mine I would immediately begin some training. There are a few articles pinned in the Greyt Information portion of this board entitled "Who's in Charge Here?", "The Importance of Being Alpha" and "Nothing in Life Is Free" that would be great place to start.

 

Lots of good advice here, particularly what Batmom outlined and the above. Particularly because he got the sandwich, I would re-create the scene of the crime. It's gonna take 8 or 10 times or more with the correct outcome (no sandwich, proper behavior) to overwrite what happened in the original incident.

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Guest gecko_foot

OW! I hope your roommate is OK.

 

I still wouldn't rush to get a thyroid panel. Contrary to what often appears on this board, an aggressive dog is *less* likely to be hypothyroid than a nonaggressive dog. And in any case, you haven't experienced generic aggression. (You can get a thyroid panel if you want to, certainly no harm in it. But for a greyhound, you really need the full banana with TSH and endocrinologist's interpretation. That's expensive, and most greyhound owners' $$ are better spent on, say, a clicker training class or a couple of Patricia McConnell's books.)

 

What you've experienced is resource guarding. Imagine that you were jonesing for a steak, went to a nice restaurant, ordered one, got it -- oooooooooooooooh, the aroma rising from the plate before you! -- you cut a piece and put it in your mouth ... and all of a sudden your dining companion and the waiter grabbed you, wrenched your mouth open, and pulled the tidbit from between your teeth. What would *you* do? Would you sit there quietly and passively while these things were going on?

 

Couple things I would do:

 

1. Unless Miles has a neck injury, I'd clip the leash to a martingale collar. If you're worried about him freaking out and backing out of the collar, get a little strap to connect the collar to the harness. But keep the primary leash on the collar where you have more control. Short leash so he just barely has slack to sniff around, get a foot ahead of / behind you. Sniffing at an innocent tree or patch of grass, pay the leash out a bit, reel it back in when he's done.

 

2. If you run into spoiled food a lot on your walks, walk him with his basket muzzle on for the time being. Meanwhile ....

 

3. Work on "leave it!" training at home, where you can control the environment. Essence of this is starting with something that he doesn't want (non food item), and rewarding him for walking past it -- which of course he'll do ... working your way up to a dog biscuit, chicken strip, etc., the ignoring of which you'll reward by giving him something even better (liver, hot dog slice, etc.).

 

Best luck!

 

ETA: GeorgeOfNE and I were posting at the same time. Agree with her post 100%.

 

:clap

 

I'm pickier than most people about how my pets (dog and cat included) behave, but the only thing I might add here is that my dog doesn't get to sniff anything unless I allow him to. Most of this is to make sure he doesn't trip me with the leash, but it comes in handy when we pass something he's interested in. He gets a quick "Let's go!" and doesn't protest moving off. Just my personal preference.

 

I'm sorry you're having trouble, but hang in there and good luck!

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Guest longdoglady

I hope your room mate is ok, Miles reaction, although understandable, is more extreme than I would expect. I think it is time to talk with his adoption group as they may have some further insight and advice to help you turn this around.

 

Dogs with strong personalities need to be matched with experienced and assertive (as in firm and fair not aggressive) owners, my first dog was very strong willed and she needed plenty of exercise and firm boundries, Anna is totally the opposite and can safely be allowed on the sofa and bed. If I had allowed Zip on my bed she would have resource guarded, seeing it as a sign of my weakness to be exploited.

 

Help from someone with experience is needed as a strong correction given at the wrong time in the wrong way will be seen as a challenge which is what happened with the sandwich. Miles has shown he is not adverse to biting a human so this must handled carefully.

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Guest PhillyPups

For future reference, a 4' lead is a good tool. While walking continually scope the lay of the land. If something unknown is in your path, change your path, skirt around it, or even turn around, whatever you need to do not to walk right into it. To walk head on to a leftover sandwich with a hound (especially a new one) is like waving a steak in the air over their head and expecting them not to jump, it just doesn't happen. :eek

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...Particularly because he got the sandwich, I would re-create the scene of the crime. It's gonna take 8 or 10 times or more with the correct outcome (no sandwich, proper behavior) to overwrite what happened in the original incident.

 

I don't agree with this - when teaching trading up or "leave it" or "give" or "out" or whatever command you want to put to this, you have to start small and then work up to higher value items. Starting with a high value item such as a sandwich is setting the dog up for failure. Batmom gave good advice on how to work up using the "leave it" command.

 

Note that "Give" is graduate school work :lol A dog will more easily learn "leave it", but once he's got it in his mouth, to a dog, possession is 10/10 of the law. You've got to use trading up to teach give and it may take a little longer. My dog went from me having to pry his jaws open to pull out a piece of chicken someone had thrown in the bushes, to me being able to have him drop live prey on command. It can be done :)


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...Particularly because he got the sandwich, I would re-create the scene of the crime. It's gonna take 8 or 10 times or more with the correct outcome (no sandwich, proper behavior) to overwrite what happened in the original incident.

 

I don't agree with this - when teaching trading up or "leave it" or "give" or "out" or whatever command you want to put to this, you have to start small and then work up to higher value items. Starting with a high value item such as a sandwich is setting the dog up for failure. Batmom gave good advice on how to work up using the "leave it" command.

 

Note that "Give" is graduate school work :lol A dog will more easily learn "leave it", but once he's got it in his mouth, to a dog, possession is 10/10 of the law. You've got to use trading up to teach give and it may take a little longer. My dog went from me having to pry his jaws open to pull out a piece of chicken someone had thrown in the bushes, to me being able to have him drop live prey on command. It can be done :)

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Guest earlkattangrey

...Particularly because he got the sandwich, I would re-create the scene of the crime. It's gonna take 8 or 10 times or more with the correct outcome (no sandwich, proper behavior) to overwrite what happened in the original incident.

 

I don't agree with this - when teaching trading up or "leave it" or "give" or "out" or whatever command you want to put to this, you have to start small and then work up to higher value items. Starting with a high value item such as a sandwich is setting the dog up for failure. Batmom gave good advice on how to work up using the "leave it" command.

 

Note that "Give" is graduate school work :lol A dog will more easily learn "leave it", but once he's got it in his mouth, to a dog, possession is 10/10 of the law. You've got to use trading up to teach give and it may take a little longer. My dog went from me having to pry his jaws open to pull out a piece of chicken someone had thrown in the bushes, to me being able to have him drop live prey on command. It can be done :)

 

Good points.

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Guest greytmiles

Thanks for all the responses!

 

Imo the cat incident and the sandwich incident are unrelated (not that that makes either less intimidating! :eek )

Walks with the roommate were super super casual... strolls really. Miles had pretty much all 6ft of lead the whole time... free to sniff and stop.

 

So I've gone back to doing disciplined walking, keeping him short on the lead and moving.... only stopping or jogging when I say so (although sometimes when he puts the brakes on it's hard to keep him going). I'm now vigilant with scanning the surroundings and staying focused on where we're going next. The concentration is good for both of us, I imagine. I do allow him some time at the end of each walk for moseying and sniffing, but am still watchful.

 

I will try practicing collar walking him in the house a bit and see if I can transition him off of the harness as suggested.

 

Walks have been good since Sandwich Day, but I have to admit, Miles seems to act quite a bit differently when roommate's along. Miles is bossier and statues a LOT more, and even worse last night he growled at me. He wanted to sniff something, i told him leave it before he even got his nose down there, and then he put the brakes on (he does this a lot... gets 'stubborn' and will not move). So I waited a couple beats... tug the leash and 'c'mon!' ... nothing... again ... nothing.... roommate was up the road a bit waiting. I leaned in to adjust Miles' harness on his chest, he growled. Admittedly, i jumped a little. So i called his name, had him look at me, had him 'sit', got him walking.

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