More about our "One Puppy" Policy
More about our "One Puppy" Policy
As you've already read, we are not a "facility"; we don't have kennels with dog houses where our dogs spend a majority of their time, they live in our home with us. This means that when we are raising a puppy, we are going through everything that you will experience raising a Labrador Puppy...the house training, the crate training, the ongoing process of teaching them civilized behavior, impulse control and obedience. We know how much hard work is involved in the first two to three months a puppy is part of the daily life of a any dog owner.
Since 2014, we have raised two sets of two puppies and the experience has led to our current "One Puppy" Policy for those interested in Aisling Puppies. Kona was six months old when we brought home 8 week old Dreama and Roamin' was 16 weeks old when Bree came to us at 9 weeks. Contrary to the popular "two puppies will wear each other out and make life easier" belief, the reality is that everything takes at least twice as long to achieve unless you are lucky enough to get two puppies with an equal temperament, equal size and equal playstyle!
1. Puppies must be crated separately, trained separately and socialized separately!
Crating them together creates a dependence upon each other. Puppies that are not crated separately will never learn to be alone leading to potential personality disorders in the future. This is the same whether they are litter mates or just puppies of a similar age.
Although simple trick training can be done together using treats, more important training like recall and stay require one-on-one training and proofing. Puppies "trigger" each other's worst behaviors rather than their best as each is competing with the other for your attention and the reward or are simply more interested in playing with the other puppy than they are in you and that treat.
Each puppy must learn to go exploring alone - both need to be taken out to the beach, the pet store, or for a play date separately in order to learn how to be alone and to play appropriately with other dogs.
Dogs are individuals in every way - from temperament to food motivation, from focus to impulse control, to the the ability to read the body language of other dogs and even in the rate of growth.
Two dogs can "trigger" higher energy levels and once energy levels reach "critical" stage regaing control of the situation is a great challenge. Two puppies whose energy has risen to the point of "zoomies" or "butt-tucking" present a danger to themselves, to each other, and to the human who is trying to regain control. While raising Bree and Roamin' I have been "caught by a tooth" in a hand or arm; had a serious lead (rope) burn to my foot from getting tangled in a lead, nearly broken a finger or two as two puppies in triggered-by-each-other zoomies leapt from ground to lap without notice!
Some dogs instinctively engage in passive play while others in dominant play and still others will alternate between the two. The ability to read the body language of another dog protects both dogs from accidental injury during playtime. A dog who is immature in this ability is a danger to himself/herself or to others. Focused training and maturity are both required to socialize this type of dog to appropriate play. All playtimes may require close supervision in order to intervene before things get out of control or a puppy is injured by another puppy or older dog. This level of training and socialization requires that it be done individually which means separation from the other puppy at regular scheduled times each day in order to work with both puppies.
Puppies who are raised together and not closely trained/monitored during play times will potentially result in a dominant puppy engaging in inappropriate biting and body slamming of the more passive puppy during all time together. Most of the time, this dynamic leads to a rehoming of one or both puppies.
3. More about Training - House Rules, Focus and Bonding - Successful training depends upon the puppy focusing on you and learning what behavior is required of them.
Puppies raised together are more prone to focusing on each other than on their humans. They also tend to form a closer bond to each other than to their humans.
Free play outside is extremely difficult to control when the puppies are close in age because in addition to their focus being on each other, neither is yet fully trained to vocal commands. Each time you lose control of their playtime and are ignored when giving the command to come or go inside, it is a step back in your training of BOTH puppies.
Free play inside the house is equally challenging for the same reasons but there are added dangers to the puppies themselves, to the human who gets in the way of bitey face or an unexpected butt tucking of both puppies and to household furniture and things like Digital Cameras and Lamps (I've lost count of the number of items broken by one puppy - let alone two playing together in the house!)
Teaching each puppy to "just be" in a room with you without full on playing is challenging enough, teaching two of them this behavior requires that each be taught it first and then both be taught it together! You can expect this to take twice as long in most cases and sometimes longer!
It took four full months to "pack" Kona and Dreama and we are still working on it with Bree (10 months) and Roamin' (12 months).
What do I mean by "pack"? That is what we call it when all of the dogs are able to be together in the house or the yard and we know that they will listen and respond to vocal commands. If we say "inside", they will break from what they are doing and head for the door; if we say "Gazebo" they will all head for the gazebo. In other words, even when "free", we are still in control of the pack's behavior. If they are in the house, they are playing quietly together, chewing on a nylabone independently or napping and not engaging in running or rough-housing. That is what we mean by "packed".
While the four months age difference in Kona and Dreama had it's challenges, it was managable and not overly stressful on family members. With Bree and Roamin' however, we are still not fully "packed" (2019). The size difference between the two of them still exists at 10 months and 12 months as does the difference in play style and impulse control. While their response to voice commands is excellent when alone or with the other members of the pack (Kona, Dreama and Little Cain), together, they are still slow to respond and their energy levels are difficult to control - together, they can go from a comfortable level 3 on the energy scale to a 10 in a heartbeat.
Our days consist of rotating Bree and Roamin' in and out of their crates (one in and one out) and into the pack with 3 playtimes spread out through the day where they can be supervised in our Puppy Paddock. More often than not, the entire playtime is filled with commands of "gentle", "back-off" and so on. We have reached a point where they will be calm together in the gazebo and will break off play to follow a transitional command (gazebo, paddock, inside etc), but they still are unable to control their energy in the house while together (they are fine with the older dogs, but even that took months to reach as a training/socialization goal).
Training of one puppy to the point of being packed is usually fully accomplished by the age of 4 or 5 months but with two puppies closer in age than 4 months, that time has more than doubled!
Most families don't have the time to work with puppies in the manner that we do here at Aisling, nor do they have the experience at living with multiples as we do.
We want all of our puppies to go from us to their "forever home" and not ever experience the stress of a rehoming; for this reason, we have instituted this "one puppy" at a time policy.
We thank you for your understanding.