Adopting Two Puppies
Megan Brooks CDT, CGC Evaluator
People often feel sorry for taking a puppy away from its littermates and subsequently end up adopting two puppies instead of one. Of course we do this, we’re human and as humans, we act on our emotions quite often, not realizing the consequences that could potentially occur.
The trouble with raising two puppies together, whether they come from the same litter or not, is the manner in which they end up bonding with one another rather than with their human companions.
I’ve come across many people who adopted and raised two puppies together and each case demonstrated its own set of issues.
Take the Shelties, for example. Buddy and Justin are from the same litter. They bark almost constantly. They bark outdoors at every little thing and they bark and lunge at company. On walks the dogs bark furiously at other dogs and cars. The owners are about at their wits end.
What I observe it two anxious and highly reactive dogs. I believe that Buddy is the instigator and that if we were to separate them that we would have much more success. Together they feed off of one another’s anxious energy and consequently, we are making slow progress in their training.
The next case we’ll examine is the case of sister Rottweilers Nala and Luna, who had been raised together since puppyhood. The dogs were well-mannered and gentle with people and other dogs. One day an elder dog, who they’d previously given utmost respect, let out a cry as I gave him a routine vaccination. In the blink of an eye one of the Rottweilers had grabbed the old dog and was attacking him. Within seconds the other sister had also latched onto the old dog. We struggled for several minutes attempting to break up the fight. As soon as we would get one off of him the other would latch back on. Finally we managed to gain control of the situation.
My observation was that the sisters had formed their own little pack and together they became a brutal force. They worked hard not to bite the humans involved and focused all of their attention on attacking the older dog. The old dog barely survived.
Other issues related to adopting siblings, especially if they are of the same sex include fighting, scent marking and other dominance-related behaviors. Siblings may compete for food, toys, human affection and/or territory. Dogs may have little or no respect for their humans. One dog may have undesirable habits that the other may mimic such as fence fighting or excess barking.
So, what do you do to resolve these common sibling problems if separating them isn’t an option?
The first line of defense is going to be examining your leadership skills. If you haven’t taken on the leader position you can bet that your dog already has and dogs in the leader position show their humans little, if any, respect. For more on leadership read:
Next you will want to teach them to respond to some obedience commands. When you ask your dog to perform a task and he does it, you are in the leader position. Obedience training also gives you a common language to share with your dog. Suddenly he knows what is expected of him!
Ensure dogs are challenged physically a tired dog is an easier to manage dog. You should walk your dog for a minimum of forty-five minutes once a day, twice is better. Supplement walks with other activities, especially for high-energy breeds such as herding dogs or Terriers. Activities you could share with your dog include biking, swimming, agility, flyball or the dog park.
If you need help, consult a professional to help you better understand how you can regain control of the pack. A trainer can give you insight into where the problem lies and what you might be able to do to resolve it.
Last Updated: Monday, February 08, 2010