This is a series that will post on Wednesdays touching on the various joys and struggles of adopting a rescue dog. Many people have adopted rescues or may be considering it and we thought that a look into what the process is like and the various challenges that may go along with this would be beneficial and of interest to readers. Keep in mind that this is one couple’s story and that every rescue adoption is unique. We look forward to sharing these installments with you weekly! Part 2 is available through this link.

An Adoption Story Part 3 — Training’s for the dogs, right?

Today was our first day of training with Julia Levitt of In Harmony Dog Training. It was a class dedicated to puppies and there were about seven other dogs ranging in age from four to six months. The class started with everyone letting their puppies off leash. This made me nervous because Sadie was clearly the biggest dog and I wasn’t sure how she would behave. She has a ton of energy and loved playing with the other dogs. At times it seemed she was playing a bit too rough but Julia assured us that it was normal puppy behavior. The next thing we learned was how to assert ourselves as the “alpha”, beginning with proper entry and exit into a room. We learned that the dog should take its cues from us when entering a room and new situation by waiting for us to invite her in.

After practicing this we went outside to learn proper walking. I have chronic back pain so teaching Sadie not to yank on the leash was of particular interest to me. We have a four-foot leash and this length worked very well. Julia held the end of the leash in her right hand with the leash running behind her, laying against the back of her legs while her left hand picked up the leash that came around so she could keep the dog close to her and control it. (I know this is hard to visualize so check out the video below). Julia is adamant about not using a retractable leash for training because it allows the dog to dictate where it wants to go.

It was reassuring to hear that other owners were having problems training just like us. House breaking, crate troubles, herding tendencies and so on. We didn’t anticipate Sadie needing this much attention and work and it was nice to hear other people were struggling too!

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.