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Raising Puppies
(Why raise one pup at a time?)
Andrew Philip


We have always tried to put prospective buyers off getting two pups at the same time for the purpose of having working sheepdogs. The question is WHY do we do that? Is it not better to have two so that they can keep each other company, and they teach each other and, you do not have to wait for another year to raise a second pup!

Experienced trainers do raise two pups at the same time, but they know exactly what to do and when to do it. It is not a matter of putting the pups in a kennel and going to play with them for a few minutes everyday. Here are the basic reasons why one should not rear 2 pups at one time!

The pups play with each other all the time, (except when they are sleeping), and they play whenever they want to, their bond to each other getting stronger all the time. They never discipline each other and so never learn to accept discipline, which makes your job very difficult when it comes time to train them.

You come along twice or maybe three times a day and they are very happy to see you because you are also a friend and you bring the food and it looks like they are bonding to you.

So you do give them the attention everyone told you is so important. What is the problem?

There comes a day when the pups are about five months old, you find that they have no regard for you when you want them to come to you, and lessons have to start.

First it is the lesson of "come here". While you are trying to get one pup to come to you the other one is all over you and the other pup or running around having fun. You can try and make them come to you together, but they do not take much notice of what you are doing. So you take one out of the kennel area to train. The other one goes ballistic in the kennel because it is being left behind. That makes the one you have out worried and often scared, because of the stress the kennelled one is showing. Because of the effort it takes and the bad reaction you get you are not
inclined to do it too often. It is just not a nice experience. So the pups bond more with each other because they are left for longer periods together.

You may have decided on a different approach. Maybe you have decided not to teach the commands until you take them to sheep for the first time! Would that not be better? I'm afraid in most cases it will not help.

The reason is simply that the pups have built up such a bond between them, that when you come along and start the discipline they object. This is the bottom line and it makes training very difficult.

So once you have bought your one well bred pup, (Border Collie or Kelpie) and it is not in your company, keep it in a safe run with good shade, shelter (2x3m) and water at all times, and try and build the run away from other kennels, out of sight of any other livestock too, e.g. fowls, sheep, cattle etc. If the pup sees other dogs or live stock, it will more than likely start running up and down the fence and later jumping up and down and barking. Not a good thing for the dogs' mind.

Yes, it takes effort. Not much that is worthwhile in life comes easily, and I can assure you that a trained sheepdog is worth it.

So make the effort to raise your pup correctly, and better still, before you decide to buy a pup, get yourself geared up and prepared to receive it, both with the physical and the mental aspects.

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