So you’re getting a puppy. Aww, look at how cute they are when they play together! Hey, why not get two? They’ll keep each other company while you’re at work! The kids will each have a dog. It won’t be much more trouble at all!
Maybe this sounds reasonable, but usually, it’s much better for everyone involved if you add just one puppy at a time to your family. Without lots of proper individual attention, littermates may bond more closely with each other than with you. In order for the puppies to develop into confident adult dogs, they need to learn to function on their own.
A few 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!
- Twice the mess. 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. The costs of health care, food, and supplies will be doubled.
- Twice the training, twice the walks.
- Dogs for the kids? Even the most responsible children will need a lot of help from you with caring for and training puppies.
- Twice the attention (one at a time) and time from you.
OK, you 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 its potential, everything needs to be done separately: walking, training, eating, 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 her crate with a special toy or chew reserved for this purpose only. Then switch. This will help them to 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 shoe laces or gobbling acorns.
Training classes are a good idea, 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 not be able 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, 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.
Owning more than one dog is great. But if you wait at least several months 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 its new home 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!
For more tips and advice on training one or more dogs in your household, enroll in the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by experienced dog trainers: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org.