Puppies are simply irresistible!
Puppies and all babies are adorable, and that is how they ensure their acceptance and survival. If one puppy is great, isn’t a second puppy even better? I, for one, love having a multi-dog household. What I won’t do is have two puppies from the same litter, and I am a professional. I will also never have two puppies from different litters but the same age, especially two females. Nope. Nope. Nope. I have been getting increased phone calls about this very topic. What could be bad about getting two puppies? Plenty!
There is this little thing called “Littermate Syndrome.”
It is awful once it sets in. It is not going to happen to every set of puppies, but you are certainly at high risk if you get littermates. Therefore, many shelters, good breeders, and rescues discourage having two puppies. They really are looking out for your best interest and the best interest of the puppies.
Some of the early signs of “Littermate Syndrome” are separation anxiety. You will see intense separation anxiety when separated, even if only for a brief period. Littermates have more difficulty learning even the most basic of skills and develop a fear of new stimuli, people, dogs, and everything else under the sun. The worst indicator is the puppies will begin to continuously fight even if they have been happily cohabitating for a long while. It is heartbreaking to see and can be difficult to fix, if it even can be fixed.
If you think having two puppies is simply twice the work? Think again! It’s exponentially greater than twice the work. Dr. Ian Dunbar, a renowned veterinarian and dog behaviorist states, “The two combine, produce levels of energy that we can barely measure. Tension develops in training and compliance as they squeeze the human out of the relationship. They’re always living with an enormous distraction: each other.”
Dr. Dunbar brings up a great point. The puppies will bond to each other and will not bond to you. You are the third wheel! They will always choose each other over you.
Another misconception is because you have two puppies, they do not need dog socialization. That could not be further from the truth. If anything, they need more dog socialization. If ignored, the puppies will be fearful of other dogs and only good with each other (at best). That makes for TWO reactive dogs when out and about. Not fun, and the older they are, the harder it is to course correct.
WHAT IF YOU ALREADY HAVE LITTERMATES?
If you already have siblings? The BEST thing you could ever do is separate them. The BEST thing you can do is help them learn how to be independent and confident by themselves. If one puppy goes to the vet, it is excruciating for the other puppy left behind. They will display behaviors such as crying, barking, scratching or chewing doors, and more. On Day 1, separate the puppies. You might feel bad about them being by themselves when they are so little (8 weeks), but trust me, you will feel worse later if you don’t separate now.
Doing things independently is key to their individual success.
- Put one in a crate on one side of the house and the other in a crate on the other side of the house.
- The puppies sleep separately.
- Train them separately.
- Take them on field trips alone.
- Have playdates by themselves with friends, NOT with their siblings.
Let’s suppose your puppies are fantastic for their lifetime. Did you ever think about what happens at the end? If a puppy is with their littermate for their lifetime, when one dies, it is excruciating for the one left behind. Depression sets in, and often the second pup will die shortly after of a broken heart. It is not uncommon. And no, getting a new pup for the one that was left behind will not work. They are mourning their littermate. Their littermate is irreplaceable.
IF PROBLEMS ARE PRESENT:
- Contact a training professional.
- Rehome one of the puppies.
It is agonizing to think about rehoming one of the puppies, but most puppies flourish in their new home. This happened recently with one of my students who had two female puppies. They started continuously fighting. They painfully rehomed one of the girls, and both girls blossomed, and the fights ceased. The girls are enjoying playing with other dogs now. Both girls are living their best life!
Awareness is KEY!
Being aware of the risks of bringing home two puppies is the best way to live a peaceful and content life. This is hard for some people, especially when there are only two puppies left. Guilt sets in about leaving one puppy behind. LEAVE THE LAST PUPPY BEHIND. Bringing the puppy home will not necessarily be what is best for that puppy. That puppy deserves a home where they are the sole focus.
Again, I love a multi-dog household. It is best to get one puppy to love on and train. Once that puppy is an adult, get another puppy if you so choose. The old pup will be a great role model and life teacher for the new puppy. You are setting yourself up for success and setting the stage for the best quality of life for all the dogs in your house.
Questions? I'm always here to help! Feel free to reach out anytime.