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Double Trouble?
or Double Fun?


While raising two puppies together might seem like a fabulous idea, it isn't always.


Yes, they are never alone, they always have someone to play with, they have someone to wrestle with that isn't you, so you aren't the brunt of their puppy teeth as often.


But ... it's a lot more work and much more time consuming!

Living with Littermates

Photo of Stevie and Ben, courtesy of student Dan McCann

Double the poop, double the food bill, double the veterinary bills.
What one doesn't get into, the other one will! While at first it might seem that they will keep each other entertained so you won't have to be so diligent, your job as supervising puppy parent is double duty!


The Challenges of Raising TWO - a few things to consider and plan ahead for:

They must learn how to be alone. Take extra pains to choreograph solo socialization opportunities for each pup alone.
Take turns providing separate car rides, separate trips to the park, separate rich socialization ops with people and other dogs, separate classes. It is essential that they learn to be comfortable being left behind and confident going out alone. These one-at-a-time outings will need to continue well beyond their first birthdays in order for them to establish a confident working relationship with you in each other's absence.


Their bond is strong - to each other.
Unless you make it a point to become the most important thing in their lives, they may become more important to each other than to you. While you are at work, they spend the majority of every day with each other and only a tiny fragment with you. They are joined at the hip. They may become "dog-dogs" instead of "people-dogs".


They may choose each other, instead of you.
They may depend more on each other and less on you for interesting activities and playtime. When they are bored, they will look to each other for entertainment, instead of looking to you.


You may think that you have to divide your time in half, when in actuality you will multiply your training time by THREE.
You must train each pup separately AND provide training sessions working them together, so they learn to take turns and listen for cues directed at them specifically. You will have to be conscious that, no matter how hard you try not to, you may spend more training time with the "easier" puppy - so the behavior and training of the more difficult puppy deteriorates even further. They will also teach each other things you hoped neither pup would ever learn!


They find confidence in each other instead of you.
If the bolder puppy takes off, the less confident pup will follow his lead. If one becomes alarmed the other will, also. If the bolder pup is suspicious of people, the less confident pup may be certain there is something to fear. If one is inclined to be a barker, and goes off at every little thing, it will trigger the other. Instead of making their own decisions, they listen to the other.  Socialize them separately.


Having each other doesn't teach them how to get along with dogs outside the family.
Just because I had a brother doesn't mean I knew how to get along with new kids on the school playground. If one puppy is a bully and the other a softie, the bully may exercise this attitude with every dog he meets, while the softer pup may never learn self-confidence - or her confidence may be false, relying on the other puppy to tell her if it's safe and allowing him to run interference. They need to meet new people and dogs on their own.


Living in the shadow of their sibling, they never have a chance to grow into the great dog they could have been unless you see to it that you are bringing out the best in them as single individuals.
You will need to be alert to each pup's strengths and weaknesses, their talents and interests, and appreciate and cultivate the great dog each was meant to be.


Some tips to make raising two puppies a successful adventure:

  • The pups should sleep separately, in separate crates and eat from separate bowls, no trading allowed!

  • They should attend separate training classes - or if they attend together, work on opposite sides of the room.

  • They should go on separate outings, experience the world without the support of the other and learn to look to you for security and direction.

  • Be the source of the "best" games and activities.

  • Establish a rich and deep relationship with each pup as an individual.


See also:
Problems Associated With Adopting Two Puppies at the Same Time 
Littermate Syndrome

Littermate Syndrome - the risky downside of raising sibling puppies 

Don't Take Two Littermates



This handout may be reprinted in its entirety for distribution free of charge and with full credit given:
© CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF" Training for Dogs & Their People -
ditr_training @ -


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