Adopting puppies is one of the greatest joys in life. But, once home, the adorable little creatures can quickly turn into your worst nightmare.
Many of our clients describe visiting a breeder to chose a new puppy – one puppy – but ending up with two because the breeder said it was easier or more compassionate to provide our new pet with a companion.
Bringing home two pups at once increases the complexities of training exponentially, and can be harmful for the dogs. Not to mention, adopting puppies from the same litter can result in a challenging condition known as littermate syndrome.
What is Littermate Syndrome?
Dogs whelped from the same litter establish deep emotional and behavioral bonds. If you’ve ever seen human twins communicating together in their own language that no one else understands, you have an idea of how this might play out. In dogs, this condition is known as hyper-attachment and it often grows worse over time.
Littermates come to you already emotionally dependent on one another. Separating them, even for brief periods, can induce significant stress reactions. Secure in each other’s company, they often fail to bond with their human companions.
Puppies adopted from the same litter are also more difficult to socialize with new people as well as other dogs.
The Perils of Adopting Puppies in Multiples
Even if they don’t come from the same litter, adopting puppies in multiples dilutes your ability to provide them with adequate training and socialization.
Returning to the analogy of twin babies, the two-are-as-easy-as-one philosophy does not work with puppies any better than it does with children. A puppy requires a significant investment of time and attention for house training and socialization.
Adopting puppies at the same time, especially littermates, not only dilutes your focus on each one but also diverts their attention away from you at a critical point in their development.
Adopting Puppies Is a One-at-a-Time Endeavor
Even if your goal is to adopt puppies of a similar age, you will be far better off to stagger their adoption until one is established in the home. Take time to create a foundation of obedience with one puppy first. The first puppy can serve as an example of good behavior when a second puppy is brought into the home at a later time.
Puppies have an incredible level of energy, requiring focus and resolve. Incorporating a pup into your household requires both your full attention and his. Sibling aggression, a common dog training challenge, can occur whether you simultaneous adopt the puppies from the same litter or not. But littermates are known to exhibit a much higher level of this unwanted behavior.
Even if the new pups don’t fight outright, tensions develop over food, toys and their most valuable resource – your attention. And, although your lack of focus may not become evident until later in the dogs’ lives, rest assured that you may face a lifetime of behavioral problems from both dogs.
Innovative K9 Academy, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, specializes in professional dog and puppy training, including obedience and behavior modification. Our puppy school and boot camps programs are designed to help your new pet become a valued member of your household. Contact us today for more information as well as guidance for success when adopting puppies or older dogs.