A question I hope will help others...
I have been combing your website among other resources since this past friday (8/15) when my husband and I adopted two adorable lab puppies. We have two 8 week old male yellow labs that are absolutely adorable! We had planned on adopting two so that they would have a playmate for life -- and company during the day while we are at work. I have to say -- I hadn't done any research into raising littermates before we adopted... I had looked into various dog breeds to match what suits our personality and lifestyle best -- and labs are such wonderful family dogs that we thought they should be ideal!
We have started our two boys in separate crate training already -- from day two with us... they cried all night the first night -- but last night went in and slept soundly all night -- from 12:00 to 5:45 am! I was amazed! And we have them crated during the day -- but have a dog walker scheduled for an 11:00am and 2:00pm walk -- for each separately daily... and I have met a trainer that will be coming to us for a consult this weekend and getting them started in puppy training classes in a couple of weeks -- separately of course.
I guess I am just looking for a little reassurance that if we follow the guidance that these will grow to be good mates for each other... I have seen a lot of information about male and female mates raised together -- but I am wondering if you have any insight on raising two males...
I don't want to do wrong by them -- or wrong by us as we have no children at present -- but will be starting a family sometime in the coming year, so I want to have happy dogs with our family in the future. We haven't been to the vet yet, so I am hoping to receive solid guidance from them regarding whether we need to "un-do" our decision to adopt two male labs at once... I would be heartbroken to do it -- but if it were best for the dogs I think it is still soon enough to find another home for one of our puppies...
I would really appreciate any insight you can offer... I have been on a rollar-coaster of anxiety since saturday morning...
Here are my thoughts...
There are good reasons why trainers and veterinarians will often discourage owners from having two dogs. I'll be the first to admit that ignorant owners have run into some serious problems by raising two puppies not to mention litter mates together. And it is their trainers and veterinarians that are most active in discouraging it. There are emotional/behavioral not to mention health risks to maladapted sibling dogs, and this does not take into consideration the financial havoc they can have on ones personal finances.
But that does not mean that it is impossible or the worst possible thing to do. Breeders do it all the time. The greatest advantages they have over the average person is knowledge and the commitment of time, not to mention space if you are raising big dogs. Both these hurdles can be overcome by dedicated caring dog owners willing to aquire the necessary knowledge and skills that raising two dogs requires.
If you are out there looking for information, wanting to do it right you are on the right track already. The next step is to have a trainer you trust to work with. I have written about the trainers we worked with both good and bad in this blog. Just search the blog using the search feature in the right hand column with the word "trainer" to find those posts quickly. Also realize that if you do not find a trainer you like or the cost of professionally training two is a challenge, then consider the training book by Pat Miller as a good starting point for your basic obedience skills. Also arm yourself with good books on dog behavior in general. Hopefully some of the books I have highlighted on this blog are helpful for you. For me they have been invaluable.
Trust yourself!! You are right, this is good practice for starting a family. You will have to set boundaries, have fair expectations from day one, and remember constantly that every moment with your dogs is a learning moment. There are no "Oops, I didn't really mean that" do overs, or "I want today off, please". Especially in the first two years, every interaction with them teaches them how you expect them to behave.
But most of all have fun!! That's why you added two beautiful dogs to your family, so enjoy them and this first fun year completely.
P.S. If any of my other readers want to chime in with advice for "M" please feel free in the comments section. I love my readers and they have taught me a lot as well!!