My goal with this blog is for you to enjoy your time here. Most of the posts talk about my experiences raising my two yellow Labrador Retrievers, some are just for fun, and others share the best dog related information and products I have found.

Use the tabs above for quick navigation. I have imbedded links for as much as possible so that you can find the resources easily from this blog. The links in the side bar are for websites that have been helpful to me. I hope that you find them useful for you and your canine "family member"

Monday, July 28, 2008

An afternoon at the beach... what we live for!

With my niece here for the past two weeks I remembered to bring my Canon PowerShot with me to the beach. Here's some of the best pictures from our afternoon walk. We had some unexpected friends join us just past the breakers. It was a lucky capture with my camera.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

From the mail bag...

Sorry it's been a while since I posted. Between a lovely vacation at the Mendocino coast and my niece staying with us for two weeks this summer things have been busy. My inspiration for todays post comes from one of you, "my awesome blog readers".

On 7/23/08 Edward said...
I found your blog via google, and 1 month into having 2 lab puppies (boy/ girl) from the same litter.

Did you follow the guidelines in the
second article (feed, walk, sleep, play separately) verbatim, or take some separation more than others?


Dear Edward,
If you read through the posts in the tab "RAISING TWO DOGS AT THE SAME TIME" you get a feel for what we did with the dogs together and what I made every effort to do with them apart as well. But in short here's a recap:

We have always fed them together. Nutmeg always eats on Shelby's right side. They were the ones who settled into the "whose on which side" arrangement and we then kept it that way.

After the first week, and we should have done it from day one, they have slept in different crates. They were in the same room but there was a visual barrier between the crates until they were I believe 2 years old. It was around the time I posted that we had crossed the milestone of being able to leave the crate door open and have them stay in their crate until released in the morning.

I did as much walking, play time, and basic obedience training with them separately as I could. However, I also practiced their obedience skills together. I know I posted a while back about how I felt it was important for them to be able to follow basic obedience commands together and not be distracted by the other being present. I bought two dogs to enjoy two well behaved dogs together. And at three years of age I can honestly say that's what I have. I guess it my case " you get what you train for". They are not perfect by any means, but we all worked hard to have the basics rock solid. The freedom that allows us is priceless!!

As for verbatim... I have followed nothing I've read "verbatim". I think it's a dangerous thing to do. Even in your search for doing it the right way, don't loose sight of the fact they are your dogs and they each have unique personalities and temperaments. Each one has different needs and is going to respond to training methods differently. Also, being your dogs there are things that will be a part of living with you and your family that are unique. You may have a couple rules of your own that it will be important for them to learn. In my humble opinion it is more important to be keyed into them and how they are responding than worrying about following some training/raising formula verbatim. That being said I have strived to follow closely the principals shared in everything Suzzane Clothier has written from her vast training knowledge and experience with dogs. You can see the other "must have books" for me on my bookshelf on this blog. I have read others, but these have been the biggest influence on how I raised my dogs. I believe raising dogs is as diverse as raising kids. My sister and I have had countless conversations about this and we both just laugh when we can relate to each others experiences. I with my two dogs, she with her two boys.

Please don't think I am down playing the importance of doing things separately with your dogs. I had to work twice as hard for a time for not having put in the necessary separate time earlier. I was fortunate to have had the ability to be with them 24/7. It's part of the reason my husband and I were willing to take on two at one time. Do I think that 24/7 is the only successful way to raise two, NO! But don't fail the dogs by taking on more then you can truly manage.

The most important reason you want to have the separate activity time is that you want the dogs 100% keyed into you not each other. It's not about dominance it's about investing enough time in the relationship that they will willing give up what they want to do for what you want them to do. If one decided to chase a squirrel and it is not safe, you are going to want to have the decisive third opinion in this decision. It may save both their lives in any number of possible scenarios. In more general terms you want them to be looking to you, or deferring to you for key decisions on their behavior instead of each other. This can be as simple as how they greet people at the door or out in the community, to stopping them dead in their tracks before they run into harms way.

I know that you are going to raise awesome Labradors. Just the fact that you are out there looking for all any information you can find tells me that those dogs are luckly to have such a great "Dad".

Good luck! The fun has just begun.