Sibling puppies, or littermates, are often more challenging to rear than other dogs. There is nothing wrong with having two or more dogs, but ideally, they should be from different litters and perhaps even different ages. Many owners have made the mistake of falling for two puppies from the same mother, and they often come to regret their decision!
Problems with Sibling Puppies
The biggest problem with sibling puppies is that they usually form an extremely close bond with each other. This isn’t a problem in itself, and it can be heartening to see the two dogs get on so well. The issue is that this close bond usually prevents either dog from having a strong relationship with his owner.
Sibling dogs can suffer from separation anxiety when they’re away from their littermate. This can make life difficult if one dog becomes unwell and has to spend time in hospital. The dog left at home without his best friend can become quite distressed, and whine and pace the floor until his mate returns.
Aside from the issue of bonding between the two dogs, there’s also the more predictable problem of having to care for two untrained and often unruly puppies. Raising one puppy is a lot of work, as a young dog needs constant attention, plenty of training and can’t be left alone for any length of time. While owning two puppies doesn’t quite double the workload, it certainly makes the process more difficult and time consuming. Raising your dog from a young puppy is a wonderful experience and you want to enjoy it – it’s difficult to take as much pleasure in the process if you find it too stressful.
It’s not impossible to raise sibling puppies, but most expert trainers strongly recommended that people don’t do it. This is especially true if you’ve never raised a dog before.
If you feel you have no choice but to buy two puppies, or if you already own them, then there are some tactics you can use to make the process easier.
Give Them Individual Attention
Both dogs should have plenty of time alone with you. Take each dog walking with you on his own, and take him or her to dog training one at a time. This will not only get the dogs used to coming out with you without a sibling, it will teach them to feel relaxed about being left at home alone. Doing this will certainly increase the amount of time required to train and care for your dogs but it is essential for their long-term development. By spending one on one time with each dog, you’re also more likely to develop a strong bond with the individual animals.
It doesn’t matter whether your children want a puppy each, or whether you think that you’ll want to have more than one dog anyway – if possible, avoid bringing home two littermates. You’ll find it much more satisfying if you welcome one pup into your family then at a later date, bring home a second pup from a completely different litter.
Susan Wright is a trained veterinarian of more than a decade and is a freelance writer. Susan often writes helpful tips to make the task of training a dog easier.