Today’s post is a little different from what I typically share, but after asking you guys what topics you wanted more of on my blog so many of you requested a post on life with two dogs and tips on training a puppy. By now you probably know that we added another Golden Retriever, Leo, to our family this past Christmas. He’s Luna’s half brother and we got him on December 15 at 7 weeks old. He’s the sweetest, chubbiest little guy. I don’t think I’ve every seen a cuter Golden Retriever puppy. We’re both so obsessed with him (and Luna still too!) and Luna is getting better with him day by day (if you can tell by my latest InstaStories). I wanted to share a little more about why we got another dog because it was a big decision especially as we start thinking about expanding our (human) family in the next year or two. Although we were a little nervous at first, we are so happy that we added little Leo to our family. Luna is so much more manageable and requires less one-on-one attention and for the most part, Leo is much easier to train because he wants to copy everything Luna does. They are pretty inseparable!
Why We Got Another Dog
We made the decision to get another dog last summer while we were on a road trip to Chicago. We dropped Luna off at her daycare and she was SO excited to get inside she didn’t even care that we were leaving. I brought up the idea of getting another puppy so she could have a friend at home to play with. She spends most days by the window looking for a friend to walk by or sitting by our feet begging for attention. Inevitably, one of us would have to sit and play with her for a while so our days would revolve around her nap schedule – kind of like having a child!
Since we know we want to start a family sooner than later, we thought adding another puppy to our family would be the best for all of us. Luna would have a companion and we wouldn’t feel so guilty doing our own thing. We called Luna’s breeder and it just so happened that Luna’s mom was expecting another litter right around the same time Luna was born so we could go pick up our puppy right before Christmas. We originally thought we wanted another girl, but the breeder advised us to get a boy since there would be less competition between them. We told her we’d wait and think about it over the weekend while we were in Chicago, but after sleeping on it for a night, we knew we wanted to proceed so we called her back the next day and reserved a puppy.
How To Find A Breeder
Just a quick note on breeders because I know some people are really against them. We decided to go with a breeder because we know we want to start a family in the next year or so and we didn’t want there to be any risk that the dog might have some aggression issues or inherent health issues. Good breeders focus on lineage and breed for temperament and health. Of course puppy mills exist, but they can be (and should be) avoided pretty easily – just do your research. If you visit the breeder’s home, you will probably get a good sense of what kind of breeder they are. We researched tons of breeders in our tristate region and settled on one five hours way from where we live. Our breeder lives on a farm and breeding Goldens is her family’s life. Her children grew up with the dogs and they train dogs too. We felt so comfortable with her the instant we met her. It’s clear she really loves dogs and all of her dogs are so well trained. Here are some tips on what’s worked well for us in getting through the puppy stage with Luna and what we’re doing with Leo currently.
Sleeping Schedule & Crate Training
Luna was an easier puppy than Leo (at night anyway). She slept through the first night on her own in her crate on our main level with no issue. Leo, on the other hand, hates his crate (we still don’t use it) and refuses to sleep anywhere except by the front door. I think he likes the draft that comes through it. He overheats so quickly with all that fur! We just section of an area with gates around the front door so he can sleep there. He does not sleep through the night quite yet. At first, he was up every 1-2 hours to go out to go to the bathroom. We found out he developed a little bacterial infection and now he’s on medicine and is sleeping in 4-5 hour stretches. For the first couple weeks were tough! For the most part we switch off taking Leo out throughout the night. As soon as he goes to the bathroom we bring him in and he goes right to sleep (thank God) so the worst part of it is really just waking up and bearing the freezing cold outside.
Puppies do sleep a good amount of the day. The dogs usually wake up around 7am, nap around 10am and again at 1pm, 4pm, 7pm and head to bed around 11pm. They usually sleep for about and hour or two (in the evening). We never force them to nap or anything, but if you do have to crate your dogs during the day or leave them home alone they will sleep the majority of that time (we have cameras on both dogs when we’re gone and that’s all they do!). We have these cameras (one for each dog) and they work amazingly well. You download an app so you can use the camera wherever you are and it has live audio so you can hear them and talk to them. During the day, I’ll let the dogs play in the basement for an hour here and there and I just watch them on the camera (with the sound on) to make sure they aren’t fighting. We also use them anytime we leave the dogs alone. We let Luna have free reign of the house (it took about a year before we fully trusted her) and we put Leo in his gated area by the door. We do have a crate for him which we may use again, he’s actually growing more fond of it because we leave it in our mudroom with the door open and any time he goes in there on his own we give him a treat so he’ll go in there periodically throughout the day. I think it would be fine to leave him in it, but since he’d likely cry for awhile we think it would drive Luna crazy (she always tried to tend to him when he’s crying), we just decided the issue wasn’t worth pushing yet.
The week that we picked up Leo, Phil spent the week working in Kansas City and the day after he got back, we had to hop in the car again and drive 5 hours to the breeder and it took us 7 hours to get back because the roads were so icy! Phil ended up coming down with a virus and had two of his biggest holiday parties that weekend so needless to say, I had to take care of the dogs most of that first weekend. In hindsight it was really bad timing because those first few days are a crucial bonding period and I feel like Phil had to miss out. Although I think the dogs like playing with him more because he’s just more fun. haha. I’m more serious so they come to me to be cuddled, but go to him to play. Within the first couple of weeks of brining Leo home, we took Luna to her daycare a few of the days so that we could have our own bonding time with Leo. We researched a lot about how getting two dogs and most trainers recommend spending extra time with them alone so that the puppy doesn’t think of the older dog as it’s master. Puppies will inherently bond more with their own kind!
We have these bells on our front door handle (which is also where Leo sleeps) so he rings them when he has to go out. We bought then for Luna after a few months of her scratching the heck out of our front door (Phil has touched up the paint on that thing at least 20 times). Luna got the hang of them within the first couple of days of getting them although she was already trained to go to the door when she had to got out. Leo started ringing the bells within the first couple of days of coming home because he saw Luna use them (Goldens are SO easy to train). He does still have accidents if he gets nervous or if we don’t take him out to go to the bathroom within 10-15 minutes of eating or drinking. Puppies can really only hold their bladder for 2-3 hours at a time. We just try to stay on top of taking him out and whenever he wanders off we know he’s likely looking for a bathroom spot so we’ll take him to the front door and ring the bells and then immediately open the door for him to go out. He’s pretty good, but still has at least one accident in the house a day.
Dealing With Chewing & Biting
The chewing and biting is probably the worst thing about the puppy stage. A few of you who also have new Golden Retriever puppies have already messaged me about it. It’s inevitable that things in your house will get ruined with a new puppy. We’ve had to replace rugs, carpets, pillows, baseboards and repair walls from Luna. Leo has actually been a lot better! We have a lot more toys and chew toys for him (he loves these pig noses and these bully sticks). So if he starts chewing something he’s not supposed to we’ll go pick him up, move him to a spot where we can see him and give him a chew toy and pet and praise him when he takes that instead. It’s worked for the most part, but I also think having another dog to play with helps (they love to bite each other instead of our furniture). Exercise is crucial to avoid chewing. Dogs mostly chew out of boredom and frustration so getting them moving helps get that out. Goldens require a lot of exercise! We have a fenced backyard which is great in the winter, but we also run with them in the basement and take them on walks in the nearby park (just avoid grassy areas with new puppies since their antibodies aren’t that built up yet). Since it’s mostly snow here, it’s pretty safe for him to be outside – the one benefit to getting a puppy in the winter.
What To Know About Golden Retrievers – They’re High Maintenance
In my opinion, Golden Retrievers are the best breed (I don’t think we’ll ever go back to another breed), but they do require a lot of extra attention and care. I grew up with a Cocker Spaniel which is also somewhat of an attention-seeking breed, but having a large dog is a much bigger commitment because they require lots of exercise otherwise they’ll end up destroying your house! Of course I’m biased, but Golden Retriever puppies are the cutest kind! So many people have DM’ed me on Instagram saying they want one or are asking if they should get one because they’re so cute! They are incredibly cute, but having a puppy is a lot more work than adorable Instagram pics would suggest. A puppy will control your schedule for those first few weeks and even months. It’s inevitable that you will get frustrated or feel run down by how much you are running around caring for them. They require constant attention and you always have to know what they’re doing or your house will be torn apart. It’s a lot like having a child – especially if you have two. At first, we could not leave them alone together because Luna tried to bite him. So we were both running around the house basically all day chasing them and taking them outside every half hour. It was mayhem! It’s getting a lot better though after only a few weeks. Luna only tries to bite when he goes for her treats, but after scolding her a couple of times, she’s getting better.
One major downfall for a lot of people contemplating a Golden Retriever is the shedding. Yes, they shed a LOT and there’s not much you can besides vacuum (we do almost daily) and brush them daily. We have wood floor on our main level which is where the dogs are most of the day so it’s pretty easy to see the hair and just sweep it up or vacuum it. Shedding is the worst in the spring and fall (when they’re getting and losing their winter coats). When they’re in their shedding period, it’s insane! We always have a lint roller on hand in our cars and mudroom so that we don’t walk around covered every day. We also started using this brush on Luna which has helped quite a bit. Leo is still so young, he doesn’t really shed yet. Once he does though I think it could be worse than Luna because he has so much fur! Not looking forward to that!
Goldens love attention which means they also get jealous pretty easily. Luna used to try to block us from petting Leo and anytime we held him, she’d jump up on us. I did a lot of petting of both of them at the same time so they learned that they could have my attention at the same time and of course they always got treats at the same time. Goldens really are the sweetest dogs by nature. They all do this thing where they put their paws on you when they want something. It’s Luna’s way of saying “yes” to us. If we ask her, do you want to go outside, she’ll walk over to us, sit and put her paw on us. Same thing goes for car rides, treats, going outside, belly rubs and basically anything else she wants. It’s so sweet. As she’s gotten older, she also loves to cuddle – she’s always by our side. She’s literally our best friend! Dogs make life so much better. They really are the best companion (besides your significant other, of course). We love our dogs so much, but we’re probably good with two for a while. I don’t think three dogs in three years will happen for us. Although it’s a dream of mine. Yup, I’m that crazy. 🙂
Don’t forget to follow the adventures of Luna and Leo on Instagram (here).
Intermix Sweater (sold out, similar here)
L’Agence Denim (wearing a 23)
H&M Black Sweater (on Phil)
Asos Jeans (on Phil)
King of Christmas Tree (10ft)
Soft Surrounding Chandelier Orb Floor Lamp
Crate & Barrel Chunky Knit Tree Skirt
Crate & Barrel Chunky Knit Throw
Mongolian Lamb Pillows
Soft Surroundings Sheepskin Rug
Photos by Alma Films.