We’ve all had our heartstrings tugged by puppies. They are, by design, adorable.
But what about getting two? Maybe there is only two puppies left in the litter and you can’t bear to split them up, maybe you think they’ll be best friends growing up together, or maybe you’ve been told two puppies is easier than one.
Lets take a look at why buying two puppies at once is usually a very bad idea.
Is it easier to have two puppies than one? Absolutely not. Two puppies are at least twice the work of one. Twice the training, twice the 2am bathroom breaks should they get an upset tummy, twice the price of food and veterinary care.
Ask anyone with twins, they will assure you two is not easier than one.
But they’ll be best friends! Will they? Dog/dog aggression is common in many breeds and lines of dogs, and is rarely apparent in young puppies. Littermates are often more rough with one another and more competitive than other puppies, and dogs raised together without adequate time apart can become hyper bonded and can experience anxiety when separated. This might seem sweet, but what happens if you can’t walk them together as adults, or one gets ill or passes away before the other? Some of these problems can helped with good training, but that can be a time consuming and difficult undertaking.
He needs someone to play with! This is what you are for! And puppy socialization classes/playgroups. Puppies cannot be left alone very long, but neither can two puppies. Instead of getting two puppies, consider hiring a friend, family member or qualified pet professional to visit your puppy while you are at work. It’s important that puppies have many new experiences, and frequently two puppies tire each other out and can act as a buffer for one another, which can inhibit socialization.
What if you worry about the other puppy’s future? If you’re concerned that the other puppies in the litter will be poorly treated, lonely or neglected, you should absolutely not be buying from that source. Good rescues and breeders don’t usually have puppies to spare, and every puppy is going to be given the best possible home, even if there isn’t a waitlist. The hallmark of a good breeder is always taking responsibility for every puppy produced for their entire life. If where the puppies are kept looks dirty or unsafe, that is not someone you should be supporting. There are risks associated with buying puppies from shady sources that we should all be aware of.
If you must pick up multiple puppies from a less than reputable source, reach out to the local rescue community to find a foster home for those you cannot keep.
So what do you do if you have littermates or two young dogs?
Train them apart AND together. Your puppies will need to spend time learning new things separately, and then learn how to do those things together.
Crate train them separately. Your puppies should have time apart and learn to feel comfortable in a crate without their sibling. They should not have full access to each other all the time.
Go to two different puppy classes/playgroups. If you attend group classes with your puppy, see if your instructor teaches two different sessions that you can attend. If doing private training, ask your trainer how best to train each puppy separately.
Play with and feed them separately. To avoid competition and to build value for interacting with you, avoid feeding and playing with the puppies together. Give them each their own play time and feed in different rooms or in their crates/pens.
Reach out for help. If you have two puppies, or adult dogs who are experiencing conflict or over bonding, help is available. The best time to address behaviour problems is right away.
When is it a good idea to get dog number 2?
Because so many major behavioural problems can be linked to puberty and social maturity, I recommend waiting 2-4 years before adding another puppy to the mix. You’ll be more confident that your adult dog doesn’t have issues with resource guarding or same sex aggression, and you’ll be able to devote more time to socializing and training your new puppy!
If you're considering bringing a new dog or puppy into your home, and you want to know how to do that successfully, or if you are struggling with the dogs you already have, contact us today! We provide professional, certified dog training in person in the South Surrey/White Rock community and virtually across Canada!