I hear it all the time, “Honey, maybe we should get two! Look how much they love each other! How can we possibly divide them up? “
My family and I tend to have litters of rescue puppies frequently, and when approved adopters come around to make this big decision – which one will it be? – The conversation often takes this detour. Someone sees two cute puppies cuddling or romping around and says, “Why don’t we just take two?”
It’s a natural impulse. In fact, it was my own hope to keep littermates together when we groomed our first litter almost a decade ago. Back then, when a potential adoptive suppressed interest in two puppies, my heart was racing. Remember: Little Ben and Pretty Girl, together forever! I loved this idea! The benefits quickly added up in my head:
* The transition would be so easy! No sad puppy cries through those first few nights without the warmth and company of littermates.
* The pups would be so happy to have a friend to play with every day.
* There would be guaranteed abundant exercise, which would reduce the destruction and mouth of the household.
* Owners would be less stressed by the demands of puppy age because instead of having a bored puppy who is constantly seeking their attention, they would have two puppies who are damn happy with each other. After all I I very much preferred to have two pups in one because it was a lot less work for me.
I was excited to let the shelter know that one of our potential adopters wanted it two Puppies. Your answer? “We don’t adopt littermates together.” I was shocked. What kind of anti-puppy happiness policy was that?
A requirement for disadvantages
It turned out that I had a lot to learn. While each of the above is true, there are More Bullet Point Reasons Most Recommend Dog Trainers and Animal Shelter Professionals against Adoption of littermates, including:
* * Puppies need to learn to be alone. One of the most important things I try to teach my foster pups is that they are fine without their littermates. If I let her hang out with her mother and siblings in the same room every minute for eight weeks, adoption day would be scary for her. In the beginning, this means simply holding a puppy outside of the puppy pen for a moment and returning immediately. Then I might just take two puppies into the kitchen to play while I do the dishes. After all, I only take one puppy upstairs to hang out with a chew toy while I work on the computer.
Sibling adoption can indefinitely delay this important part of puppy education. Now are there two Puppies who may never have taken a breath when not next to another puppy. The longer that takes, the deeper they become connected. Some owners find that just months later they have a huge problem when they casually separate the pups – perhaps for a vet appointment – and find both dogs in complete panic, breaking walls and fleeing boxes.
Of course, you can combat this problem just as I do a litter in my house: by taking the time to take each pup somewhere each day. They need to have regular, varied experiences where they are separated from their siblings: in the house, on a walk, in the car, on a game date. If you have the time and perhaps the budget structure to allow this to happen, this may not be a problem. However, experienced trainers and staff at the shelter will let you know Most owners barely have time for a puppy, let alone two – even though they are thought You were prepared.
* Having a playmate always present is not enough to properly socialize a puppy. Playing with a live roommate on a daily basis helps tire both pups, which is great – but the big downside is that without the urgent push of finding another pup or dog to tire a single pup, owners get complacent.
The chewing, biting, and jumping of a lone puppy will make a good owner find other dogs in order to exhaust the little guy, which will enlarge the puppy’s world beautifully. It is far more valuable to play with all kinds of dogs – big and small, runners and wrestlers, with floppy ears and pointy ears. They each play differently, and by interacting with a number of play partners, a puppy learns a more nuanced, expanded language of dog communication. This in turn familiarizes the puppy with future dog encounters – on walks on a leash, in your sister’s house for Thanksgiving, on the beach with your friend’s dogs.
In contrast, the littermates who only play with one another can be dogs that can only play with one another! Less socialized dogs, not used to playing styles with which they are unfamiliar, may get angry at playful overtures from dogs that are new to them and break out into defensive aggression out of fear.
Again, an owner aware of this issue can completely mitigate the effects by arranging plenty of play time with other puppies and dogs as the puppy matures.
* When people own two pups, they tend to take the pups on fewer walks and adventures. When I started nursing, I was always drawn to the adoptive, whose application mentioned the large, fenced-in yard. Sure, the city apartment residents were saying the right things, but then I’d think of this little puppy who would have to pass an elevator every time he had to pee and then walk past strangers and hear noisy trucks! “Poor puppy,” I thought.
I would love to hit the old me. I’ve learned over the years that these city dogs are socialized fabulously! Since contact with all of these things is an automatic part of their life, they inevitably become incredibly relaxed. It is wonderful.
What does this have to do with littermate adoptions? Well, littermates are often not born if they live in the same house. They are quite tired from all their game, so they do not induce their owners to go for walks. And even when they do, the owner sometimes remembers the last walk where two dogs were terribly difficult to handle and sign off.
Again, the dedicated owner will get around this by remembering the importance of getting a young puppy out and about and making time (and helpers) a regular part of adventures in the wider world the routine to do for both pups – preferably individually, for most of these walks.
* It is more than twice as difficult to train two puppies than one. I love teaching young puppies to sit, stay, turn, touch, and shake. In fact, I really can’t help myself – whenever I only have one puppy here. But what if I have more than one puppy? The best I can do is “sit”. I’m a dog trainer, for God’s sake, and I can’t teach two dogs new things at the same time.
In order to teach well, the dog has to give feedback in a split second. When two dogs do different things, the feedback loop becomes meaningless. “YES!” They say how pretty girl sits beautifully. But Little Ben heard that too when he jumped on you. Hmm What exactly did he just learn?
In order to train two puppies, you need to separate them. And maybe the trainee has to be out of earshot so that the desperate barking of the exuberant puppy doesn’t distract our student from the moment. Do you have a facility where you can easily take a pup with you and work with her a few times a day – and then turn around and do that with the other pup? Can you hold out for a year? Maybe you can!
But most of them can’t and unfortunately it often happens that an owner calls a trainer in tears and reports two completely unruly 9-month-old dogs that cannot walk. The pups are strongly bonded to one another, but not to the owner. It is a heartbreak that often results in one, if not both, of being rehomed.
THE IDEAL SCENARIO
Trainers and shelter staff almost always advise against adoption by a littermate. Instead, they often give very good advice just to wait a year so your well-trained adult dog can set a fantastic example for a new pup.
That is, taking in two siblings Power Be the right decision for you. The key is to be fully aware of the tricky issues and to commit to a plan. If that happens, it is can train nicely.
As I was preparing to write this article, I reached out to a handful of people who have adopted littermates from my rescue group. Each of them wrote back with exclamation marks how much they love their dogs and how double adoption was the perfect approach for them. My follow-up questions showed that these people really went the way. You have poured one quantity of time and resources into these puppies, carefully crafting their experience so that each dog is well trained and confident – and darling too. Sure it can be done.
Still, every time an adopter says, “Hey honey, how about two?” I’ll still suggest my favorite option, “Do you have a neighbor who needs a puppy?” This is Best of all worlds, each of the puppies has a buddy who is close enough to happily tire of daily game dates. Owners can take small breaks while their puppy is visiting next door, and each puppy gets plenty of individual attention back home.