Why I finally decided to take my dog to training classes

My family of three grew by one this year. We brought home an adorable and cuddly four-legged pup and named him Archer.

This golden retriever-golden doodle mix is long-asked for gift for my son.  Liam, 8, has wanted a puppy since our last dog, Dingo died in 2013. He has wanted a puppy more than he has wanted a sibling.  

Archer came home as this small, sweet puppy last November, but he didn’t stay that way long. Soon after we brought him into our life, everyone kept commenting on how big he was getting.  
And he kept getting bigger, and bigger and bigger.  

I knew from the moment we picked him up Archer was going to be a much bigger dog than I was led to believe.  And I made it clear I knew it.  

However, he is the dog my husband and son have been wanting for years, how could I possibly back out when it was time to take him home?

Of course I couldn’t. 

You see, since we lost Dingo, I have been the holdout on getting a new dog. Pets are a lot of work and a big responsibility and I wasn’t ready to take that on again.  I liked the freedom of not having to worry about coming home to let the dog out, to go out of town without worrying about, “What are we going to do with the dog?”

There have been other puppies and dogs I have said no to adopting. Last summer, we spent many weekends going to the local shelter to look at dogs, spend time with them - and see what kind of dog would fit into our family. I did this because I knew eventually we would get a dog. 

I did have a couple conditions however. The first was not a puppy and the second was not in the winter. 

When my husband found Archer, I gave in on both those conditions because I know how good a dog can be for a family and this time, this dog seemed like the perfect medium-sized dog. 

Archer was around 15 pounds at nine weeks old when we adopted him. Now 10 months, he weighs a whopping 62 pounds. Yep, you heard me right. That’s more than half my body weight. 
He is not a medium-sized dog he is a large dog. Thankfully he is also sweet, kind, smart and still very cuddly. 

But at his size, he is a lot to manage for me. When we walk, he likes to jump after cars and can pull me right along with him. He wants to jump on people to greet them, and that embarrasses me because it seems I have no control over my dog. He likes to go after dirty socks and shoes and he barks at anything and everything that passes in front of the house. Oh and he is so tall, he can easily pull something right off a table or counter top. 

How do I stop him from doing all of that? Dog training. Simple, right?  I take a few classes and I have my dog trained just the way I like him. 

Well, I’m going to find out just how easy or difficult it will be for us.   My son and I have signed up for a basic manners dog training class at the Huron Valley Humane Society. We’re taking it together so we can learn the same techniques and be consistent. Archer already listens to my husband. 

The first class was for us humans without our dogs. We met Angela Schmorrow and Lowell Zuckerman who run Harmony Dog Training. They quickly made us feel comfortable about our dogs and any bad habits we feel they have. It was reassuring because I can tell no matter how active and jumpy Archer is when he meets them, this class will be a no judgment zone. 

The class was an orientation to help us set realistic expectations, share what we want our dogs to learn and prepare for the first lesson with our pooches in the class. 

First on my son’s list is to teach Archer how to fetch.  First on my list is to make Archer a polite greeter. You can see we have different expectations about what we will be training Archer to do. 
We were given a clicker and our homework is to teach Archer that the sound of the clicker will be followed by a reward. 

So far, so good. This homework is easy. Archer loves the treats and my son loves using the clicker.  

We bring Archer to the second class where he will meet the trainers and the other dogs. Wish us luck.

I’m excited for the training, because we have a good dog who just needs to be broken of a few bad habits. 

While I was the holdout, and the little puppy stage was tough, I know he is a good addition to the family.  When I see my son curled up with him on the floor, running around the house with him or even trying to ride him like a pony, I know adopting Archer was the right decision. This is the dog that will be my son’s companion for the rest of his childhood.  And my son loves Archer, really loves him. 

I have to admit I love this dog, too. He follows me around, looks to me for food, affection and walks.  I very much enjoy those walks despite the car jumping.

When the two of us finally find our stride, the walks are a great escape into my thoughts and to just take in the world around us that my fast-paced life can keep me from doing sometimes. I hope to teach him to run with me soon. Maybe this class will help me do that too. 

Archer has become part of the family. But he has to be trained and so do we, if we’re going to give him the best life in our home.

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