You’re getting a puppy, and you’re visiting the litter. They are so cute when they play together, and look at how much energy they’re using up. So you start to think maybe you should get two puppies instead of just one. 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. Think again.
Maybe getting two puppies at once sounds 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.
First of all, without lots of proper individual attention, littermates may bond more closely with each other than with you. Also, in order for puppies to develop into confident adult dogs, they need to learn to function on their own.
It takes a lot of work on your part to properly socialize and train a puppy. When your first pup is trained the way you want him, his relationship with you is well established, and he is one-to-two years old, that’s the time to think about getting another.
A Few Other Reasons to Get Just One Puppy at a Time:
- You thought they would entertain each other. They will, but not by playing Monopoly together while you are at work. Shredding the sofa is much more fun with a buddy. They will be partners in crime.
- Twice the mess. Two pups are harder to housetrain than one. If you’ve got two puppies together in a pen, it’s impossible to tell who did what. Additionally, 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, etc.
- 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. They each need individual attention and dedicated time from you.
- Traveling with two is more difficult than traveling with one, and boarding two is more expensive.
How to Best Handle Two Puppies at Once
OK, you already took the leap, and here you are with two adorable puppies. It will require a lot of effort, but it can, of course, be done.
To ensure that each puppy reaches his potential, everything needs to 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 are getting 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 playing with you, every day. Make playing with you each pup’s favorite activity. While you play with Puppy A, put Puppy B in her 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, he should take his puppy in a different direction. They will distract each other if you walk them together, just like the class clowns you knew in eighth grade. While you are trying to teach one to walk nicely, the other one will 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 will have gone there together, be aware of each other’s presence, and will likely be unable to focus on training at all.
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, possibly even spend a night or more there. The other will need to be well adjusted enough to be able to stay at home with you, without his 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 his new home and bond with his 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.