Raising Litter Mates



Before deciding to purchase litter mates I did some research via the internet. Most, if not all, of the sites I visited had recommended NOT to raise two puppies together. A few of the other breeders I had emailed (out of town) had also said the same thing. I still chose to take on the litter mate challenge.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010
Raising and Training Litter-mates

If you google “raising litter mates” you will find lots of entries that go against it. I have read everything from “they won’t bond to you, they will bond to each other” to “one puppy won’t reach his potential”. I was a little scared at first to take on such a challenge, but I knew that if becoming a trainer is what I wanted to pursue, I would have to start somewhere, so why not my own puppies!

I knew raising two puppies at the same time was going to be hard.. just not this hard. If i were to just let them be, and play and wrestle with each other all day , teach them some basic commands I’m sure that they wouldn’t be as good as they are for us right now. Instead what I have done is only allow supervised play/wrestle periods, individual training sessions and lots of individual handling. They get lots of play time together , but it is supervised for now. I usually break them up if I feel they are getting out of hand, a few books and sites I have read said that a good Alpha should put both pups in their place when needed. Since Taro had his hot spot, I had to be extra careful with their play periods to make sure Kratos didn’t try to grab at his face and re-open his wounds.

Teaching them separately wasn’t too difficult. They pick up things very fast, and I started the day we brought them home. They were taught to “sit” first. They learned that quite quickly. They sit before they are let outside the door, they sit for treats and for their food, they also sit when I put their harness/collar and leash on. They sit when their food is being prepared as well.
The hardest part with the training is having consistency in the house. So not only am I training the puppies, I have to train my family to do the same things and use the same commands that I use so that the puppies will understand what is needed of them. Teaching the puppies is much easier than teaching the humans!

It does become frustrating sometimes, especially when the puppies want to play, when you want to teach them something. Their little brains get distracted easily, so I have to do my best to keep them focussed on me. If i ever start feel frustrated or just not getting anywhere with them, I end the session on a positive note - something as simple as “sit” , praise and let them know the session is over by using the command “break”. I’m not so sure they understand “break” yet, so I usually toss a toy at them after saying it. I am able to take a break, they are able to play, and after a few minutes have passed, I try it again. I am usually quite successful the second time around.

I try to keep their sessions short and random. For example, on a walk, they will sit for me several times, and no more kibbles are needed, the reward for sitting = resume walking. It’s a great game, and it tests their skills outside the house where there are plenty more distractions. They perform their commands very well inside our home, so now we are taking those commands and trying to implement them in the outside world and once they are able to perform these commands on their walks, then we can start to add bigger distractions like other dogs!!

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