I always wanted dogs that didn't need leashes, so when we adopted our first dog, the only time she was on a leash was when we went to the vet, or when I brought her onto a military installation with me, but only because they have a regulation stating that dogs need to be leashed at all times. Then we got Ranger and did the same thing. Oh boy do I regret that!
Ranger is just over two years old, and the only times he has been on a leash before we started obedience training was when we went to the vet. He is so used to going where he wants when he wants that being on a leash confuses him. Ranger thinks "But I want to get there FASTER than this! Here mom, let me lead you!" What he's really doing is dragging me, choking himself, and making us look bad.
And it's all my fault.
I could have taught him that there were certain times he could be off a leash and to stay within range, and there are certain times he should be good and heel, but I didn't. I should have though.
Ignoring the leash was one of the worst things I have done as a puppy mommy. If I had known the problems it was going to cause I would have leash trained from the start. Ranger turned out to be a 70lb dog full grown so he's pretty strong. Being pulled by a dog that big and that strong just plain sucks. And he's older, and more stubborn, so training him is just as frustrating. Poor Ranger is probably thinking "But Mom... I never had to stay right next to you before! Why do I have to do it now?" How do you explain to a dog that you didn't know what you were doing and you messed up two years before and now you're trying to repair your mistakes? You can't. You just have to work with the dog every day, over and over, rewarding him for the behavior you want and ignoring the behavior you don't want.
I really should have started training him as a puppy. Lesson learned.