Looking for help deciding what to get
This isn't necessarily specific to gundog training, but probably the best fit for my question.
I am starting to look for two lab puppies. I am not necessarily looking for highly bred hunting dogs because I don't intend to make that a big part of their lives (although they will likely attend on hunting/fishing trips), but I am also not looking for the bottom of the barrel, backyard breeding kind of thing either. Basically, I plan to train the basics with them and hope to result in fairly "responsible" dogs. Not sure what the best way to describe that as....
Due to my work schedule (frequently 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week in the summer), I don't want to get a single dog and have it sitting alone bored all the time. I want to make sure to get the dog a companion for when I am not around, which is why I am looking at two dogs. They will have plenty of room to get outdoors when I am gone, so will be able to run and play. As an avid runner, cross country skier and triathlete, I want dogs that like to run and can handle good distance runs (hence the labs) when I get home.
My main question is whether there is anything to watch for in choosing what two labs to put together. Is there an issue getting two from the same litter, male/male vs. female/female vs. male/female? Does one combination tend to not work out as well as another? How about and differences between chocolate/yellow/black that I should know about or issues with one of each together?
Getting 2 pups at one time if your a new dog owner is not the best idea and I assume new since you're asking the question. It is far easier to train one pup at a time when your time is limited.
You want the dog depend on you for his attention and two pups will rely on each other (forget YOOOOU-U-U-U!). People who raise two pups and train them successfully spend ample time with each. 12 hours including sleep time might not give you enough time for each. I was single or living alone a lot when my husband was on long projects out of town, with 1 -3 labs of different ages, at various times and gone from 7 am to 6pm most days. They do fine if you set up a schedule and stick to it. From 8 weeks of age to about 16 weeks I was home everyday at lunchtime to let the dog out. You learn to eat lunch in the car. Even with the rescues, they rode in the car with me for weeks to a few months but rescues are going through a retraining process and often mental.
Here are things that worked for me over 20+ years.
-get the pup when you can stay at home for a long weekend or take some vacation to set up where the pup will be all day and acclimate them to your place.
-set up a secure puppy proofed area but give them enough room to move around, find a corner to pee with an easy to clean surface and secure food and water bowls. I use the garage in the bitter cold and an outdoor run with roof and house in the warmer months.
-do you have anyone,a neighbor or a kid after school, who can come by and let them out everyday.
-come home directly after work, no night life, that is gone for a while.
-plan for time after work to play, walk and train (or in the morning or both)
-can you take the dog in the vehicle with you? Its a good reason to take a break and get away from co-workers.
-something else I just noticed, "lots of room to run and play" is a prescription for trouble when you are gone. I know there are people who let their dogs run alone in large yards and even loose thinking they will hang around. You want the dogs in a confined area while you are gone unless you want to come home to something the dog ate, an escape or a other problems one or two dogs will get into. Puppies absolutly should not be in that situation and I get announcements of lost older dogs every day.
-doggy daycare is an option. I don't know what the age requirements are but Dog Tired on Fireweed in Anchorage is great. The Better Companion in Wasilla is also a very well run place. I can't speak for the other half dozen places though there is a new one on Boniface that looked well kept called "Its Your Dog". They will cost you $18 or so a day. Some people take their dogs to daycare a couple days a week and find that enough stimulation to make up for the other days.
- if your set on two dogs, get one wait and several months. If you find that you still want another then get another pup. I did it and found with working 3 dogs under 16 months was a lot of work and I was spread too thin training and attention wise.
It's no fun to have a dog if you find that you can't do what you want, when you want and then you have to give them away. Your basically getting married, your life is no longer all your own. You have to decide that's what you want to do. If you contact the shelter and ask them "did not have time for the dog" is one of the top reasons for surrendering the dogs. Usually the dogs are kept until they are grown and unruly. I have 3 who came from those homes and people like me are few and far between. (and Im not allowed to have anymore!:-)
Alaska Dog News
Thanks for the help. Let me clarify a couple of things just to make sure I am not giving the wrong impression.
Originally Posted by Linda
I have grown up with dogs, but just haven't had one around for a while and haven't had two at a time since I was a kid. I am not planning to get anything until the time of year when I will be working a fairly regular work schedule. I realize there is now way I want to try to train a dog when working long hours. At this point, I am trying to narrow down what I am looking for so I don't have to do that when the time comes to make the jump. I want to try to avoid as many obvious pitfalls along the way, so I do really appreciate any things to consider.
I am very active, so getting them out to walk/run/train will not be a problem. I don't want to be stuck in the house any more than they would. Part of what I am looking for is a companion for my running and skiing as well as at home.
When I said plenty of room, what I mean is that they would have about a 1/3 acre lot, completely fenced with access to a portion of the house (garage mainly, but could expand as their training and my trust level increases). They would have full access to the main house when I was home and could keep an eye on them and of course, depending on the stage in training and developement. Obviously, depending on their behavior, things may/will have to be adjusted accordingly to accomodate that, but at least that is what I am starting with.
I do have neghbors who had two labs until just recently when one had to be put down.
I've never had a night life up till now, so I won't be losing anything on that side . If you ask any of my friends, you will find I am addicted to my training which I intend to involve the dog(s) with as much as possible.
I guess another question would be if you thought it would work better to get one initially, then add one shortly after? Again, I don't want to be in a situation where I end up leaving one dog alone, by itself for long periods of time. I just don't feel that is fair to the dog. They need something (be it human or another dog(s)) to socialize with. If it would be better to stagger the start time with them, what kind of lag time would you think would work best? Wait a couple of months, a full year?
When I get multiple pups in training I keep them separate from each other at first. This ensures that each pup bonds with me. Learns to trust me and follow me around. Each pup gets its own "training" time. Once I know that they both have bonded to me and I have some obedience lessons started then I will start putting the pups together in the same yards in a monitored manner.
You don't want the pups to bond with each other. They will team up to completely ignore you. It would be like walking into an out of control kindergarden classroom. You can scream all you want but they don't here you.
So getting two pups at the same time is possible as long as you are prepared.
Great advice. That's exactly the kind of pointers are need. It makes complete sense. I have heard of others with problems where the dogs essentially form a pack and the owner has no control over them.
Originally Posted by Wetland Retrievers
I listened to all the don't do it as well before adding a pair of siblings to the 2 we already had. I have not had the problem with the pups bonding with each other and not me in our family situation and it certainly hasn't been a problem around our house. They are animals and know who is top dog and who feeds them. They do need one on one time for training but having each other to occupy idle time has been a great thing - A tired dog is a good dog. Both of our pups turned out to be independent well mannered and listen to all the family members.
The following are my opinions and surely will be the opposite of many others -
Color of labs doesn't matter a whole lot and is more of a preference - personally I shy away from the odd colors noted as Silver or Fox Red - just my preference - I do like chocolate and yellow but there is nothing wrong with black.
Pedigree - I would steer you away from the "field trial" labs - some I have seen (not all) can be very high strung and too much for the normal guy wanting a good dog. Look in the breeding for temperament - combination's of hunt test titles and show can be great indicators of training ability and conformation if that matters to you. Any rescue dogs or companion dogs in the pedigree will indicate some good temperament as well. If you can spend time with the parents you will have a good insight into the pups potential. Personal preference but I like a lab that looks like a lab should.
Health checks in labs are a necessity - Eyes, Hips, EIC, CNM, and more, do your home work on this one.
Not all breeders are created equal - do your homework on this one as well.
Lots of work but finding the right one can be a lot of fun - Good for you doing your homework in advance. It truly is a commitment.
I've done both, getting two young ones within a couple months of each other and waited to add a pup. Personally, I feel better having one for about 2 years, because I don't feel like Im putting as much individual training into the first one when the second comes along. If I ran into problems I focused on the easier one to train, which of course is the puppy since they are sponges, a clean slate. And it was easier to get a pup out in the field and water when chasing the adult that you now have voice control, hopefully. Hiking is another thing. What one doesn't think of or chases the other does. I have 4 dogs now from 1 yr, a "wild" haired pointing griffon rescue, a 8 yr old lab, and 4 year old Dane mix and saluki mix and layering them, getting each after we had the last one for a year was much easier even as adult dogs. It was almost like getting puppies since they all had to be retrained from the start.
I agree that the color isn't my first characteristic and after reading "Structure in Action" structure and temperment will be at the top of my list. Looking at FC's in the pedigree doesn't mean you won't get a mellower dog,even from the same litter. The best way to judge is to look for working dogs, watch them work and find ones you like or consult a trainer like Baron. He would probably know of dogs who fit your lifestyle.
(I just came off of an hour hike in the woods with the Griffon and the Saluki, I dont have enough eyes and hands for another dog with those boys!)
Sounds like you have best intentions and real desire, but one has to wonder how it could work out.
Originally Posted by anchskier
Tough situation to put any new dog in, much less two.
Might not be the best time in your life for an animal(s) that needs constant nurture, training, care and abundant love.
I agree, for the most part, however my golden, Baxter, was bred to be a field dog, and he is, but he also knows when to turn it off... He's the most mellow dog I've ever known when we're just hanging out around the house because I trained him to be that way... He was essentially on his leash tied to me for the first six months of his life and I did everything I could to show him that 'calm is good'.
Originally Posted by rambling raven
Now he has the run of the house... Not bad for a one year old.
His litter mates, however, do tend to be pretty high strung.
As to your leaving them outside most of the day when you are gone - I firmly believe that dogs learn a lot of bad habits when left to their own devices outside for a large portion of the day... They learn to go to the bathroom whenever they want, bark when they want, and dig when they want...
Just my two cents.
Good points. Thanks for mentioning that. My hope is that I will be able to set it up so they have access to outside most of the time, but I will probably have to meter that out a bit depending on how he/she/they can handle it. Adjusting things as necessary. One thing I am certainly aware of is that there are no guarantees with anything. While one dog may be great and be able to handle whatever freedom I give it from day one, it is just as likely that it could be completely opposite and will require far more training to get to that level. I hope to be prepared for that, hence the questions I have posed. I am hoping to gain a better picture of what to watch for and what to plan for before I make the committment.
Originally Posted by cube01