Littermates — think twice

I’ve seen an interesting trend in the last few months, people are acquiring littermates more frequently than in the recent past. The economy must be improving! While there are many reasons why people purchase or adopt multiple dogs (at the same time) in this post I will start to address some of the reasons why you should think twice (or three times) before you make this BIG decision.

Here’s the scenario: At the local shelter you see this adorable litter of puppies, you can’t decide between getting the boy or the girl so you and your partner decide to get both. A great idea, right? Maybe not. When you bring two new puppies (or dogs) into your home, at the same time, you will find that the complexity of raising your new canines can more than double.

Here are just a couple of the things you will need to consider:

Housetraining — in order to effectively housetrain a dog you need to supervise them 100% of the time when they are not confined to their crate. As you can imagine, when watching two puppies/dogs it becomes more difficult to see the subtle behavioral cues a young pup will offer just prior to alleviating themselves. Also, if you take your puppies out on leash (highly recommended for housetraining) it’s common for one pup to distract the other — causing one or both to lose track of why they went outside in the first place.

Bonding & confidence — with littermates in particular, it’s common for them to bond more closely with each other than with their human family members. Note: this is not usually what the humans anticipate. Also, it’s common that littermates will find confidence in each other vs. in you, i.e. if the dominant puppy is a barker or becomes fearful in a situation it’s likely the sibling will follow suit. And just because the pups are good with each other does not improve the likelihood they will be properly social with strange dogs.

You will need to help them grow up as individuals — each dog should have the opportunity to develop to their greatest potential. In order to help multiple dogs do this you will need to encourage their independence by having them:

  • Eat separately‚ individual bowls
  • Sleep separately — each have their own crate
  • Walk them individually
  • Take them on separate as well as group outings
  • Attend separate training and socialization classes

Several years ago I had two gentlemen, in separate classes, that had each taken on a pair of German Shepherd littermates. After significant discussions both agreed they were fully committed to raising the siblings. Well, I’m happy to report that after the 6-week training session both sets of pups were doing very well, as for the gentlemen — each lost 20+ pounds in that period of time! Remember — a tired puppy is a good puppy. When you have two that means a fit owner as well 🙂

If you are serious about wanting more than one dog, I suggest waiting to get the second for at least 6 months after you’ve brought the first one home. That way you will have had a chance to build a solid relationship and training base with your first dog while also realizing the time and financial commitments required to make everything work out.

Good luck 🙂 Please feel free to post comments!

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