Tip of the Month

1/22/2013 Double Trouble or Double the Pleasure?

“Should I get a puppy?” “There are only two left in the shelter and I do not want to split them up.” "Should I get two so they can be company for each other while I am away during the day?” “If I got two, both my son and my daughter could each have one.” “How could two puppies be more trouble to take care of than just one?”

The above frequently asked questions lead to the ultimate question: Are two puppies double the pleasure or double trouble?

While you might have the best intentions, you’ll soon discover that two puppies actually create about eight times the mess as one. It’s as if they feed off each other’s energy. The problem is not the constant chaos involved with trying to keep up with two pups, but the realization that since the dogs have each other, they really do not need you. They are much more interested in roughhousing and running together than the ball games and walks you planned on enjoying with them.

Expert breeders are careful about placing two puppies together in one home because they know how much work it is to raise both of them properly. An improperly raised puppy can wind up homeless when the little and cute stage wears off and the defense urge begins to mature. Even dogs that don’t become aggressive can become too rowdy for a family if they weren’t given the right training early on.

Puppy Bonding

The underlying problem is bonding. Since the pups are always together, even when you are not home, their primary bond is with each other—not with you. Puppies are individuals and each needs a good upbringing. This includes plenty of good experiences with people, places and things. It also includes plenty of training and conditioning to being touched and handled by humans. Much of this work must be done with a puppy one-on-one—away from any other dogs in the household.

Tips for Successfully Raising Two Puppies

  1. The pups should sleep separately. Within two weeks of coming home, they should be trained to sleep in separate crates. However, don’t combine the stress of a new home with that of being separated immediately. Start out by placing the crates side by side. Gradually move the crates apart so that eventually the puppies are comfortable sleeping in different rooms or on either side of the bed. (This also prevents the development of separation anxiety problems should they suddenly have to be apart due to an accident or illness.)

  2. Each pup needs plenty of outings with humans and without the other pup around. This is an essential part of a puppy developing an individual identity and the ability to function without the other. It also gives a pup the desperately needed opportunity to bond with humans. From the very start, take them outside separately as well as together for short excursions around the neighborhood, car rides and socialization visits. This process is best continued at least until a year of age; longer for some dogs.

  3. Your best hope of controlling your dogs when they are together is to have an excellent training foundation for each individually. Each puppy needs to go to training class weekly without the other—or at least kept separate within the class. (Note: Some dog trainers will not let family members train two dogs from the same family in the same class.) Make sure to practice the class homework daily away from the other dog. As they become well-trained, you’ll also want to practice working them together so they learn to obey with the pack

  4. The puppies will learn their names faster if you use their names each time you interact with them. In the beginning, names should always be said in a happy tone of voice in a rewarding context, such as when praising, giving meals or teaching commands that are rewarded with praise, petting or a treat.

  5. Make sure to be a good leader to your pups. Don’t let one become excessively dominant over the other. Allow them to establish their relationship, but intervene if one puppy becomes overly domineering. Give each puppy equal time and attention and do not favor one over the other. Also, make sure to include all of the family members in this training and caring for the pups so they respond equally to all.

Raising two pups is considerably more work than just one. However, if done correctly, you can certainly double your puppy pleasure.

By Beth Harrison, ABCDT

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