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Old June 17th, 2011, 11:01 AM
Groenendael Groenendael is offline
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Raising two puppies question

Question to people who have raised two (or more) puppies at the same time!

I know that most people are against having two pups at the same time. But the puppies are here, and I hope I will be able to do this.

A bit of background; The puppies are siblings, 4 months, a male and a female (Belgian shepherds). I am not going to work for at least a year. I have got the separation-part all sorted out; crates, training, walks, feeding. I am competing agility at the highest level (right now with my 6 year old dog). My life is basically dedicated to dogs, their well being, and training. Also, I have a "way out" if this wouldn't work-out; the breeder will take one of the puppies back, if I feel it starts to "get out of hand".

To my question, and this might sound silly, anyway: How often did you let your puppies play together, once a week, once a day? What would be the aproriate time to leave them to play (10 min. 30 min.)? I actually keep them separated all the time at the moment.

Thank you so much for reading this, and I am looking forward to hearing your answers!
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Old June 17th, 2011, 12:38 PM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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We had two boys, different litters, about 2 months apart in age. They interacted with each other and with our other dog, Cass (who was about 11 mos by the time Cole arrived), every day. We've always enforced a 2 hour rest after eating. All three dogs napped together. We tried to limit hard playing (and they did play hard ) to half-hour increments until they were about a year old to avoid damage to their developing joints. After play we'd come in and rest again... I can't remember how many hard play sessions per day we started with. I think it was one, then we went to two after a few months... As they got older, we increased the number of sessions, but kept them at 30 minutes at a crack until they were a year old. We were fortunate to have a fenced backyard so they could play with each other off-lead. The play is rowdier that way, but it does tend to tire them out nicely, too. We had inside toys, too, that they could play with together or we could play with them. If they got too rowdy inside, though, we'd stop the game and separate them.

Crate training will be very useful.

Make sure you have plenty of 1-on-1 time with them. Your individual training sessions will help them bond to you, not just to each other. The walking is good, too--just make sure you keep the walks on hard surfaces like sidewalks or roads very short till their joints are well-developed. (When they're both good on the lead, then work on getting them walking together if you want.) Grooming is a great 1-on-1 bonding experience, too! And don't forget the cuddling.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 01:09 PM
Choochi Choochi is offline
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I would let the pups dictate. If you're an experienced dog handler you should be able to pick up on this. Keep them separated at all times as you're already doing. I don't know how long you've had them for so far but once you feel you have adequately bonded with both let them play together for a couple minutes and test them on how responsive they are to you. Can you call one off from play to come to you and ignore the other pup for a few seconds while paying attention to you? Can both do that? I wouldn't let them play more then a few minutes at a time and maybe once a week to start. If they continue to show you that you are still the top attraction to both of them, keep doing it. If you start noticing trouble and they start blowing you off, I would go for a few weeks with no contact between the two of them and test again. There is no reason for them to have to play together especially if you are planning to raise them as high competition dogs. And every time they are together for a play session, I would still treat it as a training session for call offs and focus, and as they get older for more advanced skills under distraction.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 02:45 PM
Groenendael Groenendael is offline
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Originally Posted by Choochi View Post
I would let the pups dictate. If you're an experienced dog handler you should be able to pick up on this. Keep them separated at all times as you're already doing. I don't know how long you've had them for so far but once you feel you have adequately bonded with both let them play together for a couple minutes and test them on how responsive they are to you. Can you call one off from play to come to you and ignore the other pup for a few seconds while paying attention to you? Can both do that? I wouldn't let them play more then a few minutes at a time and maybe once a week to start. If they continue to show you that you are still the top attraction to both of them, keep doing it. If you start noticing trouble and they start blowing you off, I would go for a few weeks with no contact between the two of them and test again. There is no reason for them to have to play together especially if you are planning to raise them as high competition dogs. And every time they are together for a play session, I would still treat it as a training session for call offs and focus, and as they get older for more advanced skills under distraction.
Thank you so much! This is what I was thinking, but I needed reassurance. I got a bit "off track" (completely heartbroken would be the right word) when my older dog died last week, and all of a sudden I felt really unsure about everything. You are so right, thank you for getting me thinking! The connection with the male is amazing, he comes running like the wind as soon as I call, even if he is distracted by other things. I am a bit worried about the connection with the female. But then again, she has been with me shorter than the male. I got him at 8 weeks and her at 13 weeks (they are now 16 weeks). I will keep up the separation, which is not that difficult in my case; they are both completely relaxed in their crates, and continue working on the connection with the female.
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Old June 17th, 2011, 02:54 PM
Groenendael Groenendael is offline
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Originally Posted by hazelrunpack View Post
We had two boys, different litters, about 2 months apart in age. They interacted with each other and with our other dog, Cass (who was about 11 mos by the time Cole arrived), every day. We've always enforced a 2 hour rest after eating. All three dogs napped together. We tried to limit hard playing (and they did play hard ) to half-hour increments until they were about a year old to avoid damage to their developing joints. After play we'd come in and rest again... I can't remember how many hard play sessions per day we started with. I think it was one, then we went to two after a few months... As they got older, we increased the number of sessions, but kept them at 30 minutes at a crack until they were a year old. We were fortunate to have a fenced backyard so they could play with each other off-lead. The play is rowdier that way, but it does tend to tire them out nicely, too. We had inside toys, too, that they could play with together or we could play with them. If they got too rowdy inside, though, we'd stop the game and separate them.

Crate training will be very useful.

Make sure you have plenty of 1-on-1 time with them. Your individual training sessions will help them bond to you, not just to each other. The walking is good, too--just make sure you keep the walks on hard surfaces like sidewalks or roads very short till their joints are well-developed. (When they're both good on the lead, then work on getting them walking together if you want.) Grooming is a great 1-on-1 bonding experience, too! And don't forget the cuddling.
Your dogs must have an amazing life; all this freedom and playtime! It must be fantastic to watch them interact with eachother. But before letting my "monsters" play so many times during the day, I think I must continue a bit more with the one on one training (like you also said). I am really very selfish, but I need them to be focused on me. I was thinking that we would "beat" a few Border Collies (not an easy task), on the agilitycourse in the future. Thank you so much for your answer!
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Old June 18th, 2011, 08:08 AM
Choochi Choochi is offline
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Originally Posted by Groenendael View Post
I am really very selfish, but I need them to be focused on me. I was thinking that we would "beat" a few Border Collies (not an easy task), on the agilitycourse in the future. Thank you so much for your answer!
You're not being selfish, you understand your goals and what you need to do. As long as you're providing all the social interaction they need, there really is no need for them to frolic around together. Pet people tend to have this obsession that their dogs won't be happy unless they have doggy friends, which is a completely wrong assumption.

Puppies are hard wired to bond with each other, if you even begin to let them, you almost stand no chance to grow the type of strong bond with both dogs you will need to compete, you know this. However once they are past a certain age and have bonded with you well, you will be able to let them play more together and interact, which will certainly make living arrangements easier. Right now you need to build good foundations, that's not some thing you will ever get a second chance for.
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Old June 18th, 2011, 10:02 PM
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Gail P Gail P is offline
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I'm going to go against everyone else's advice about separating. I've raised siblings several times, added 1 or 2 puppies at a time to my existing pack and they've all turned out just fine. I crate train all my pups but when they are young and small enough to fit together they share the same crate. Once they need more space I separate them when crated. I have always used crates just for house training purposes when they are young and to prevent destructive puppy behaviours. Once fully trained and past the teething stage I graduate them out and they have full run of the house.

I currently have 9 dogs and they all get full run of my house even if I'm not home. In my pack I have a 10 year old collie, 6 year old border collie/lab, two 5 year old mixbreds that were rescue pups (not sure if brothers or not but same age and adopted together), two 4 year old border collies (brother and sister), a 3 1/2 year old border collie, a 3 year old border collie and a 2 year old border collie.

It seems to me to be depriving pups of their puppyhood and opportunity for learning dog to dog social skills to not allow them much time to play together. I have no issues with any of mine blowing me off to play with the others. Mine are not "just pets" that don't need to pay close attention to me either, they are working dogs. Two work daily in the spring and summer months doing goose control...off leash in town, out in public around people and other dogs. 7 of my 9 are also sled dogs that I race on the Ontario sprint racing circuit. As sled dogs they need to be in tune with the driver, it's not like riding/driving a horse where you have reins for control...the dogs are controlled strictly by voice command. Some of mine are more closely bonded to me than others, but that is the the differences in personality of the dogs. All will listen to their commands but some are velcro dogs...always by my side watching and waiting to see what I'm going to do, or ask them to do next.

Before the dogs mentioned above, I've also raised collie sisters together and a great dane brother/sister combo.
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Old June 19th, 2011, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Gail P View Post
I'm going to go against everyone else's advice about separating. I've raised siblings several times, added 1 or 2 puppies at a time to my existing pack and they've all turned out just fine. I crate train all my pups but when they are young and small enough to fit together they share the same crate. Once they need more space I separate them when crated. I have always used crates just for house training purposes when they are young and to prevent destructive puppy behaviours. Once fully trained and past the teething stage I graduate them out and they have full run of the house.

I currently have 9 dogs and they all get full run of my house even if I'm not home. In my pack I have a 10 year old collie, 6 year old border collie/lab, two 5 year old mixbreds that were rescue pups (not sure if brothers or not but same age and adopted together), two 4 year old border collies (brother and sister), a 3 1/2 year old border collie, a 3 year old border collie and a 2 year old border collie.

It seems to me to be depriving pups of their puppyhood and opportunity for learning dog to dog social skills to not allow them much time to play together. I have no issues with any of mine blowing me off to play with the others. Mine are not "just pets" that don't need to pay close attention to me either, they are working dogs. Two work daily in the spring and summer months doing goose control...off leash in town, out in public around people and other dogs. 7 of my 9 are also sled dogs that I race on the Ontario sprint racing circuit. As sled dogs they need to be in tune with the driver, it's not like riding/driving a horse where you have reins for control...the dogs are controlled strictly by voice command. Some of mine are more closely bonded to me than others, but that is the the differences in personality of the dogs. All will listen to their commands but some are velcro dogs...always by my side watching and waiting to see what I'm going to do, or ask them to do next.

Before the dogs mentioned above, I've also raised collie sisters together and a great dane brother/sister combo.
THANK YOU! For a minute there I thought I was nuts!
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Old June 19th, 2011, 08:35 PM
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Goldfields Goldfields is offline
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THANK YOU! For a minute there I thought I was nuts!
Me too! My sister and I always let pups play together, and with older dogs. Her dogs are used for obedience trialling and tracking, she'd had two tracking Ch's, while mine were show dogs. I have had dogs so bonded to me it's ridiculous, like my old red boy who couldn't stand anyone but me on the end of his leash, he'd bide his time and when a handler least expected it would take a flying leap to get to me. He won't eat if I'm not here, not even for my husband, used to gait in the ring with his head turned slightly so he could watch my face, and just does everything he can to please me. Had one girl with a brand new litter that jumped out of the whelping box, leaving her pups, to go with me when I left the room, aned her training, like all my dogs, was just done separate from play or exercise periods. As for my shelties, they'd rather seek my attention than play with each other and my sister says hers are the same.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 11:35 PM
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I have raised 2 pups. They were 12 weeks. And one was being trained for a working dog.

And I so second what Gail P has said about the seperating. I never seperated my boys as pups. They were blocked in the kitchen together as I never crated. My training sessions were done with both and also one on one. And with distractions. But even with the one on one, both pups were there. I found it very easy. It was like they were watching each other and learning from each other. What I was doing for the training of the working one, I was doing with my other. My brother would come and take my one as he was the one who would be working with him. So they would be seperated once in a while. But that wasn't untill he was about 10/11 months old.

I have family member and friends who have raised 2 pups, they never seperated them.
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Old June 29th, 2011, 03:18 AM
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I agree, Mona b , that they learn by watching each other. To give one girl, Sweetie, some distractions to cope with, I started doing obedience outside my dog yards, and lo and behold, when I was bringing another girl back to her yard one day she did a perfect drop in the same place I'd made Sweetie do drop stays. That one, Shady, had never had obedience training at all, it was purely copying the other. And, from a distance she watched me teaching Sweetie a retrieve over a jump, and when she came into the house yard she went and jumped over and back. Clever girl! Makes me excited to think I'll have a new pup to teach soon actually.
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Old June 29th, 2011, 07:56 AM
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They sure do learn by watching each other. We've seen that even in older dogs that we brought in--not only did they learn from each other, but the dogs that were here already were actively teaching the newbies. Denying the pups access to each other will also preclude them learning from useful lessons from each other.

The only times we ever separated Cole and Ember were when they played too rough in the house and needed to take a breather, and then only for a few minutes till they settled down; or when each was getting his own training session. Most of the time, however, our dogs all interact more or less freely--within the rules of the house, of course.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groenendael View Post
Your dogs must have an amazing life; all this freedom and playtime! It must be fantastic to watch them interact with eachother. But before letting my "monsters" play so many times during the day, I think I must continue a bit more with the one on one training (like you also said). I am really very selfish, but I need them to be focused on me. I was thinking that we would "beat" a few Border Collies (not an easy task), on the agilitycourse in the future. Thank you so much for your answer!
Despite all the freedom and interaction, they did grow up looking to us and being quite independent of one another. As puppies they got the same sessions of one-on-one training as all our dogs do. It's the one-on-one activities that you do with them that strengthens the bond between human and pup, but we've never noticed that allowing the dogs to freely interact the rest of the time impacted their response to us. It didn't take a lot of one-on-one cuddling/training/grooming to bond them to us, and as the source of good things (cuddling/food/even happy praise can be a reward for them) we tended to be their main focus when they weren't rough-housing with each other. We tailored training to the length of their attention spans (as pups, they don't have a very long one ) and gradually increased the duration of training and its complexity as they got older.
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