Many people these days, it seems, are not just getting one puppy, but two from the same litter. While the rationale behind this sounds great – they can keep each other company, will always have a playmate, and won’t get upset about being left alone while their owners are at work. In reality, the problems may far outweigh the benefits. The puppies may become so bonded to each other that everything and everyone else in their world ceases to matter. When separated, they simply cannot function as individuals.
Once they reach both physical and social maturity the real trouble begins; aggression towards each other leading to fights (especially if the two puppies are females), dual aggression toward other dogs, one becomes dominant while the other becomes timid. This is usually when the dog trainer gets called in because this behavior seemingly came out of nowhere. “They always got along so well, they were inseparable! Now I have to keep them separated for fear they will kill each other!” It’s very upsetting for owners to have to deal with this kind of thing.
So what’s the solution? Well, if you are considering littermates, think again. It might be better to get one puppy first and then add a second when the first is well on its way to becoming a well-trained, well socialized, independent dog. If you already have littermates, then make sure you are ready to invest the time needed to make them two individual dogs. This means they must be allowed, no, REQUIRED, to have their own space, to develop their own personalities, and to look to the owner for bonding and love. They must have lots and lots of “only dog” time.
* Crate them separately (preferably in separate rooms.)
* Feed them separately.
* Walk them separately.
* Play with them separately.
* Train them separately.
* TRAIN them! Take them to a good puppy class where the instructor knows how to work with littermates. Take them at separate times. Do NOT take them to the same class.
Of course they can play together, but in supervised and controlled sessions. And, they need to regularly, and separately, play with other dogs and puppies their own age in order to properly learn dog to dog communication. Are you scared yet? Well, fear not, this routine will not be forever. After a period of about 12 to 14 months the pups will have formed their own personalities and temperaments, and be ready to live their separate lives together.