Monday, January 11, 2010
By Linda Cole
It's hard picking out just one puppy. They're all so cute and adorable. People with room in their home and heart for two pups may not think twice about buying or adopting sibling puppies, but there could be potential harm to one or both of the pups. Raising litter mate puppies is more complicated than it sounds, and it can be a challenge.
A new puppy needs to have a chance to bond with the human who will become his pack leader. In fact, it's essential that bonding take place. Pups are ready to leave the nest when they are 8 weeks old, and their development will continue in their new home. Litter mate puppies are comfortable with each other, and can keep each other company while you are gone. The situation can change, however, once they grow up. Just because they get along as pups doesn't guarantee they will get along as adults, especially if they are both male, or both female. As full grown dogs, siblings will fight and jockey for dominance in their pack just like any other dogs would do. Female pups will also fight for their place in the pack, especially if there's a male dog in the home. Aggression and rivalries could turn into double trouble for their human parents.
When you raise pups from the same litter, you risk creating insecure dogs with behavior problems that can be with them their entire lives. There's a good chance they can be so dependent on each other that separation anxiety could become a severe problem anytime they are not together. You want them to play with each other, but they need time apart in order to learn about life away from their sibling.
Raising litter mate puppies can be a challenge, but it's not impossible as long as you are aware of what you’re getting into, and you learn how to teach each pup according to their personality and individual needs. You will need to keep litter mates separated as much as possible for the first year. Treat each puppy as an individual dog and not as an extension of its sibling.
Keep them apart from each other during housebreaking and training activities, at feeding time, and when you are giving each one attention and playing with them. This gives each pup a chance to develop their own personality, find their own identity and understand their social order in the pack. It also gives them both a chance to bond with you equally, which will help them learn how to maintain a balanced and stable relationship where they both feel secure within the home. If you crate them while you are gone, they need to be in different rooms. Take only one at a time for walks or to the vet for checkups and vaccinations. Even though they live in the same home, each one should be treated as if you have just one dog.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to raising litter mate puppies. Some breeders won't sell siblings because they are afraid they could turn out to be more than the owner bargained for and one or both pups could suffer the consequences if the new owner can't handle two pups. Other breeders feel it's up to the buyer to decide. Responsible breeders will work with you and are happy to help out any way they can. A breeder's concern is for the pups, and they want to make sure the puppies are going to a good home.
A prospective owner who understands what they are getting into and has the time and energy to properly socialize and train both pups should do fine. If you really want two dogs, a better solution might be to take one, then go back in about 6 months to pick another puppy from a different litter. If you want to take litter mates home, it will work out better to take a male and a female. Make sure to have them neutered and spayed as soon as they are old enough to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Two puppies will require double work and expense when it comes to housebreaking, veterinarian bills, food and time for bonding, development and training. But if you do your homework and invest in the hard work and commitment needed to raise litter mate puppies, you will also be rewarded with double the love and fun of two well-adjusted individual pets.
Read more articles by Linda Cole