Imagine you’re getting a puppy, and you’re visiting the litter. They’re so cute when they play together, and are getting their energy out with one another. You may start to think that maybe you should get two puppies instead of just one. There are pros: they’ll keep each other company while you’re at work, the kids will each have a dog. It can’t be that much more trouble, right? Think again.
Getting two puppies at once might sound reasonable. But many dog trainers, breeders, and shelters say that it’s much better for everyone involved if you add just one puppy at a time to your family, helping you avoid a range of behavioral issues, sometimes known as “littermate syndrome.”
Littermate syndrome refers to the potential behavioral problems that can arise when puppies from the same litter are raised together. Without lots of proper individual attention, littermates may bond more closely with each other than with you. Puppies need to learn to function independently to develop into confident adult dogs.
It takes a lot of work to properly socialize and train a puppy. So when is it the right time to think about getting another? When they’re one-to-two years old, well-trained, and have a well-established relationship with you.
Other Reasons to Get One Puppy at a Time
- You thought they would entertain each other. They will, but not by playing Monopoly together while you work. Shredding the sofa is much more fun with a buddy. They’ll be partners in crime.
- Twice the mess. Two pups are more challenging to housetrain than one. If you’ve got two puppies together in a pen, it’s impossible to tell who did what, and they’ll probably be covered in whatever they did while you were gone. Now you get to bathe two pups.
- Twice the expense. Double the cost of regular puppy bills – food, grooming, veterinary costs, toys, dog training, doggie day camp – can add up quickly.
- Twice the training, twice the walks – and while you’re training them, they’ll need to be walked one at a time.
- Even the most responsible children will need a lot of help from you with caring for and training puppies.
- Twice the attention. Each will need individual attention and dedicated time from you.
- Traveling with two is more difficult than traveling with one dog, and boarding two is also more expensive.
How to Best Handle Two Puppies at Once
You may have already taken the leap, and here you are with two adorable puppies. Caring for them will require a lot of effort, but it can, of course, be done.
To ensure that each puppy reaches their potential, everything must be done separately: walking, training, eating, and sleeping. If the pups are very young, sleeping together may be fine for a while as long as they get enough one-on-one time with you. But before long, they should sleep in their own crates.
It’s certainly good for them to play together sometimes, but each one needs time to play with you every day. Make playing with you each pup’s favorite activity. While you play with Puppy A, put Puppy B in their crate with a special toy or puppy chew reserved for this purpose only. Then, switch pups. This will help them learn that crate time is good.
The puppies must be trained individually before you can work with them as a pair. This means that all but the most urgent potty walks (like the ones that eight-week-old pups need in the middle of the night) must be taken separately. If another family member will help, they should take their puppy in a different direction. They’ll distract each other if you walk them together, just like the class clowns you knew in eighth grade. While you’re trying to teach one to walk nicely, the other one will likely be attacking your shoelaces or gobbling acorns.
Puppy training classes are a good idea to help socialize them with other dogs, but it’s best to take each puppy to a separate one. It may not even work if there’s a family member to work with each puppy in the same class. They’ll have gone there together, be aware of each other’s presence, and will likely be unable to focus on training.
Just like humans, puppies must learn to function as individuals. Socialize them separately. At some point, just one will need to go to the vet, and possibly even spend a night or more there. The other will need to be well adjusted enough to stay at home with you, without their sibling to depend on for knowing how to behave.
Bond With Each Puppy
Owning more than one dog is great. But if you wait at least one year before getting a second puppy, you get all the benefits of multiple dogs without the chaos of multiple puppies. Each dog gets a chance to learn and adapt to their new home and bond with their owners without sibling competition. You’ll find it easier to train one puppy at a time.
Dogs are social and usually enjoy playing and being together, but what they want most of all is time with their people. If you decide to get two puppies, make sure there is enough of you to go around.