ADOPTING DOGS TWO-AT-A-TIME: OVERVIEW
1. Think long and hard about getting two new puppies at the same time. Make sure you’ll be able to give both dogs everything they need.
2. If you do get two puppies, make a firm commitment to spend social time and training time with them separately, to avoid having them super-bond with each other.
3. Consider instead adopting one puppy now and another later, or better yet, one puppy now and an adult dog later.
There’s no denying it: a new puppy is one of the world’s most wonderful things. It’s a cold, hard heart that doesn’t get all mushy over puppy breath, soft pink puppy pads, and the fun of helping a baby dog discover his new world. So, if one new puppy is wonderful, two puppies must be twice as wonderful, right? Well, not usually.
Most training professionals strongly recommend against adopting two pups at the same time. The biggest challenge of adopting two new puppies is their tendency to bond very closely with each other, often to the exclusion of a meaningful relationship with their humans. They can become inseparable. Also, owners often underestimate the time commitment required to properly care for and train two puppies; as a result the pups often end up untrained and undersocialized.
Don’t Get Two New Puppies at Once!
I’m the last person on earth to argue against getting a second dog, or even a third; my husband and I have five. However, there are very good reasons to think long and hard about not getting two new puppies at once, whether they are siblings or not.
While the majority of new puppy owners seem to recognize that one puppy is enough of a responsibility for them, a certain number fall prey to one of a few common arguments about why two puppies might be better than one. I can rebut every one of them!
Let’s take a look at the most common reasons that people say they want to adopt two puppies at the same time – and why they shouldn’t be considered.
Two-pup rationale #1: “I want to get two puppies so they will have someone to play with while I’m gone all day at work.”
It’s a good thing to recognize that your pup could use companionship during the day. However, if you think one puppy can get into trouble when you’re not there, just think what kinds of mischief two pups can cook up when left to their own devices. Better solutions might include:
• Adopt your new pup at a time when someone in your family can take a week (or several) off work to stay home and help the puppy adjust gradually to being left alone. A couple of weeks vacation time? Kids home for the summer? Just be sure to use the time wisely, so your pup can learn to happily accept being alone when it’s time to go back to work or school.
• Find a friend, neighbor, or relative who is home much of the time and who is willing to provide daycare for your pup – and experience the joys of having a puppy to play with during the day, without the long-term responsibilities and costs of having a dog for 15-plus years.
• Ask your vet if she has another client with a similar-age puppy, and see if the two of you can mingle your pups at one of your puppy-proofed homes for puppy daycare, and send the second baby dog back home after work. Note the emphasis on “puppy-proofed.” Two pups can still get into a heap of trouble, even if one of them isn’t yours.
Two-pup rationale #2: “I have two children and they each want their own puppy.”
What a sweet idea. Just say no. Since when do the kids get to make the rules? Seriously, most families I know have enough trouble getting their kids to fulfill their promise to feed, walk, and clean up after one family dog. Mom ends up doing most of it anyway. So now Mom gets to do double-puppy-duty? If there’s a compelling reason for them each to have a dog, consider adopting one puppy now, and an adult dog from a shelter or rescue group. Even then, I’d adopt one first and give her at least a month to settle in, if not longer, before adopting the second.
If you must adopt two puppies at the same time for the kids, see the second half of this article.
Two-pup rationale #3: “We want to have two dogs eventually anyway, so we might as well get them at the same time so they can grow up together as best friends.”
Well, that’s what you might well get! When you raise two puppies together they usually do grow up to be inseparable best friends, often to the detriment of the dog-human relationship. Inevitably they spend far more time together than they do individually with you, with a likely result that they become very tightly bonded to each other and you are only secondary in their lives. Many owners of adopted-at-the-same-time puppies ultimately find themselves disappointed in their relationships with their dogs, even when they are committed to keeping them for life.
This super-bonding also causes tremendous stress (and stress-related behavior problems) on those occasions when the dogs do have to be separated – and sooner or later, something will come up that requires them to be separated: one goes to training class and the other doesn’t, you want to walk one but not both, or a health-related problem requires one to be hospitalized or otherwise kept separate.
Two-pup rationale #4: “A second puppy will play with the first and keep her occupied when I’m too busy to spend time with her.”
Nice thought, but here’s a heads-up. If you’re too busy to give one puppy the time she needs, you’re definitely too busy for two puppies!
There are great interactive dog toys on the market that can help occupy your pup when you can’t play with her – and don’t think that either another puppy or a pen full of toys can substitute for social time with you. Puppies do take time, and it’s important you give that some serious thought before adding a baby dog to the family. It’s fine to give her playmate-time via arranged play dates with a friend’s healthy and compatible puppy, but don’t think adopting a second pup is an acceptable substitute for your own interaction with your puppy.
Two-pup rationale #5: “If we adopt a second puppy, that’s one fewer that might be euthanized.”
I won’t argue with this, except to say that in many shelters around the country today, puppies aren’t the problem. Of course there are exceptions, but I’d say the majority of shelters in the United States now have no problems placing most if not all the puppies they get. It’s the adult dogs who are most likely to die because of homelessness. If you really want to save a life, adopt a grown-up dog instead of a puppy, or at least adopt your puppy now, and come back for an adult dog in a few months.
Two-pup rationale #6: “The breeder we are buying our puppy from thinks it’s best if we take two.”
If you’re buying from a breeder who encourages you to purchase two puppies at once, run away fast. A truly responsible breeder will, in most cases, refuse to sell two puppies to one home, except on the rare occasion that a prospective buyer can prove she has the skill, knowledge, time, ability, and monetary resources to provide an excellent environment for two pups at once. Someone who tries to push two puppies on a buyer isn’t a very responsible breeder, and isn’t doing her puppies, or the new owner, any favors.
What to Do If You Adopt Two New Puppies
Perhaps you’ve already adopted two new puppies and are ruefully regretting your error. Or maybe you don’t regret it, but you realize you’ve taken on far more of a responsibility than you realized. Perhaps you’re determined to go ahead and do it anyway, despite my advice above. If you do take the bait and find yourself in double trouble, there are things you can do to minimize problems and maximize your success as the owner of a puppy pair:
1. Crate them separately. Your pups are going to have plenty of together time; they don’t need to sleep together too. You can certainly leave them together in their puppy-proofed space when you’re gone all day, but they should be crated separately at night. You can crate them near each other, but this is the perfect time to start habituating them to not always being in close contact with their sibling. (See “Crating Woes,” Whole Dog Journal May 2005.) When they are comfortable in their crates close to each other, you can gradually increase distance between crates until they can be crated out of sight of each other, perhaps even in another room.
You can also do the “separate crating” thing cold turkey. If your children are old enough to be responsible for taking their pups out in the middle of the night, start from day one with a pup crated in each kid’s room.
In any case, the puppies’ separate crates should be in someone’s bedroom. This is vitally important so someone hears them when they wake at night and have to go out. The pups also benefit from the eight hours of close contact with you, even though you’re all sleeping. And by the way, you can bet if one puppy wakes up to go out, the other puppy in her nearby crate will wake up, too.
2. Train them separately. Your training programs will be much more successful if you take the time to work with your pups individually. If you are using clicker training (and I hope you are!), you’ll probably find that it’s confusing and difficult to try to click and reward one pup for doing a desired behavior when the other pup is doing an unwanted behavior. When this happens, both pups think they got clicked, which means you’re reinforcing the unwanted behavior as well as the desired one. Oops! Not to mention that it’s much more difficult to get and keep any semblance of attention from either puppy if the other is present as a distraction.
Training time is a perfect opportunity to give your pups a positive association with being separated. One gets to play (train) with you and get attention, clicks, and yummy treats, while the other gets to hang out in her crate in another room, preferably far enough away she can’t hear you clicking, and empty her deliciously stuffed Kong.
If there’s a second trainer in your family, that person can work with the second pup in another room at the same time. Eventually you can each work with them at the same time in the same room, and sometime in the future one person can have fun working with them both at the same time. But that’s down the road somewhere, after they’ve both learned their good manners lessons very well.
3. Play with them separately. It’s common in puppy pairs for one pup to be more assertive than the other, and take the lead in puppy activities. It’s fine to play with them together some of the time, and it’s also important to play with them separately, so the more assertive pup doesn’t always get to make the rules for the other.
For example, if you always play “fetch” with the two together, you’re likely to see that one pup repeatedly gets the toy and brings it back, while the other runs happily along behind. If you watch closely, you may even see the more assertive one do a little body language warning if the other tries to get the toy – a hard stare and stiffened body, perhaps. The less assertive one defers to her sibling by letting go of the toy and looking away. That’s a fine and normal puppy interaction, but it can suppress the “softer” pup’s retrieving behavior. Unless you make the effort to give her positive reinforcement for fetching toys when you play with her alone, you might find it difficult to get her to retrieve later on in her training.
4. Walk and socialize them separately. Just as with your training sessions, you’ll need to walk one pup while leaving the other behind with something wonderful, or while someone else walks the other one in the opposite direction around the block. Walking them together with different handlers doesn’t work; the less confident pup will come to rely on the presence of the more confident one to be brave in the real world. Then, when the more confident one isn’t there, the shyer pup is more likely to be fearful. All the activities you would normally do with one pup, you need to do with each pup individually.
Signing up for puppy training class? Set aside two nights, not one, and take them to separate classes. Going to the groomer? It’s two trips, not one. Time for that next set of puppy shots? Make two appointments, not one. Oh okay, I’ll give you a break – it doesn’t have to be every time, but they should go somewhere by themselves at least as often as they go together.
So, are you getting the idea of the “separate but equal” program? Everything you would do with one puppy you need to do with each puppy separately. This is to be sure they’re both getting the attention, training, and socialization experiences they need, without the interference of the other pup, and so they’re not dependent on the presence of other pup. Of course you can also do things with them together, but you must be sure they are completely relaxed and comfortable about being apart.
For super-bonded dogs, separation becomes a world-class crisis, fraught with life-threatening behaviors such as anorexia (refusal to eat in the other’s absence), separation anxiety (barking, destructive behavior, relentless pacing, and howling), and other stress-related behaviors, including aggression.
Inevitably, at some time in their lives super-bonded dogs will have to be separated. One will get sick, or need surgery, when the other doesn’t. Most of the time, one will die before the other. I know of cases where the surviving dog of a super-bonded pair has had to be euthanized after the partner died, as he was too stressed by himself to be able to function. This is not a situation any loving dog owner wants to face.
Other Factors Involved in Adopting Two Puppies
Behavioral considerations are the reason that most trainers recommend against adopting two puppies at once. But there are other reasons that have nothing to do with the dogs’ behavior.
1. Cost. Not surprisingly, it costs twice as much for routine feeding and care for two puppies as it does for one. But don’t forget the catastrophic care costs! If one pup contracts a deadly disease such as parvovirus, you’re on your way to the emergency clinic with two pups, not one. Sure, if one gets injured the other’s not likely to have sympathy injuries, but with two pups the chances of one getting injured in some manner double.
2. Clean up. Let’s not forget puppy pee and poo. One pup produces more than enough waste for any sane human to deal with, and with two pups you naturally double the production.
If that isn’t enough, consider this: You leave your pups in an exercise pen when you’re not home. One pup is likely to learn to eliminate in a corner of the pen reasonably quickly, and will hopefully avoid tromping through it. Two puppies may select two different corners of the pen as designated bathroom spots, which doubles the chances of poop tromping. On top of that, if the two pups get to wrestling, as pups do, there’s a much greater likelihood of them rolling around in poo than there is if one pup is playing by herself.
Picture yourself coming home from a long, hard day at work, tired, looking forward to a little loving puppy cuddling, to find a pair of poo-covered pups in a pen plastered with the stuff from one side to the other. I’m just sayin’. . .
3. Housetraining. Of course, when you’re home, the puppies come out of the pen to be with you. We normally recommend the umbilical cord approach to housetraining: at first keeping your pup on a leash or tether, or with you, under your eagle eye, all the time, and going out to the designated potty spot every hour on the hour.
Now you’re tied to two puppies who want to wrestle with each other under your feet – or one’s tied to you and one to another family member. As the pups mature you lengthen the time between potty breaks and start relaxing supervision, when the pups demonstrate their ability to “hold it.”
Oops! There’s a puddle. Which pup did it? Oh look, there’s a wee puppy pile of poo under the dining room table. Oh no! I see teeth marks on the corner of the antique loveseat! If you have one puppy and you’re having a persistent problem, you clearly know who needs more supervision, or a quick trip to the vet to rule out a possible medical issue. With two pups, you have to increase management and supervision on both of them, and may never know for sure which one is having accidents. Or maybe it’s both!
4. Gender. Some people say if you’re going to have two puppies, get a boy and a girl. Others say get two boys. Some might specifically warn against getting two girls, stating that two female adult dogs in the same family will fight. Others will tell you they’ve had two girl dogs at the same time, no problem.
Here’s my take: Plenty of same-sex puppy pairs get along just fine throughout their lives. Plenty of mixed-sex pairs do the same. There are same sex pairs that end up with conflicts, and there are mixed-sex pairs that end up fighting with each other (despite super-bonding). It does seem to be true (and there are some studies that indicate) that intra-pack conflicts involving two females tend to be more intense than intra-pack issues between two males, or opposite sex pairs. That doesn’t mean there will be conflict if you adopt two girl puppies, only that if there is, it may be more difficult to resolve than differences of opinions between two boys, or a boy and a girl.
Think About It
Is the extra fun of having two puppies at one time worth all the extra time, energy, cost, and headaches? I’m warning you not to do it. I’m recommending you adopt one now, and another in six months to a year, when the first has bonded with you, and at least completed her basic good manners training.
But if you decide to do it anyway, and are ready to do all it takes to make it work, then you have my sincere blessings and best wishes. But please, be honest and realistic about whether you and your other human family members really have the resources and commitment to give both pups what they need to ensure their lifelong loving home with you. Go find your two wonderful puppies and have an absolutely great life with them.
Pat Miller, CPDT, is Whole Dog Journal’s Training Editor. Miller lives in Fairplay, Maryland, site of her Peaceable Paws training center.
I adopted 3 female littermates 11 years ago beforee I knew anything about super bonding or any other reason for not adopting them together. I do separate them at times for walks, vet visits, training and just giving them space. my concern is end of life, and how do I care for them if I lose one, how do I best help the others. one thing to add is we have always had no less than 4 dogs and as many as 6 dogs and we lived in close quarters with 2-3 others. in other words they have always been around multiple other dogs and we have had losses. in their life we have rescued and lost 6 pups and they don’t seem to “grieve” as a pair might. so I was just wondering if you have seen this situation and if I need to do more now to soften the blow of a loss between the three girls and what might that be? any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
What if we figured out this was a huge mistake to get 2 puppies at the same time. I am angry at the so-called reputable breeder for not talking us out of taking 2 puppies home. That being said, is it too late if we decide to part ways with one of the pups. They are 5 months old? Would we be doing more harm then good if we found a new home for one of the pups?
I think there’s a common misconception that “good” pet owners keep their pets for life every time. Sometimes, the best thing you can do to stay happy, positive pet owners and to keep your pets happy, content pets is to give them away.
If you want to be a good pet owner when doing so, make sure to treat every candidate who is interested in your pet like a job applicant. Do they have income? Do they have knowledge of the breed? Do they travel a lot? etc. I think its important to really pin down the issues that make you consider giving the pet away and make sure a new home does not present those same issues otherwise they may regime the pet again and they may end up in a worse condition than you would have wanted.
There’s always the chance you decide the best option is to keep both. And maybe a trainer can provide solutions to the issues you have. But sometimes the best life you can give a pet is with someone else. The last thing you want is to grow to dislike your pets.
I’m in the same situation. Though mine aren’t siblings….. good intentions ect….
One of my 5 month old puppies is very domineering. Spoils times together. And she was the quiet one when I got her. She’s not quiet anymore. Has to have it all. The other puppy seems to then walk off when the domineering one pushes in.
You can separate them using crates. Each dog should have routine time spent with you as an only dog getting to play, train, and hang out with you.
Its my pleasure to read this blog post. I am happy to read more blogs on it. Keep doing it.
I have 2 new shicon Male almost 4 months old. Same litter. All of the above issues r real. I have threatened 2 take them back on a daily basis but I think I wld feel worse if I did that. Having 4 adult kids & 3 other dogs that hv passed I know 1st 6 months is hardest just like a new job u hate after 1 month.
Dont make any changes until at least 6 months u may hopefully be glad u waited.
We took two boy Chihuahuas, even as new puppies one took care of the other. One was the runt and has breathing issues and may be a little slow. One, the runt, refused training but is obedient just does not want to learn the other loves to train for treats. They are really bonded but I think it all worked out for the best . Both socialize well with other people and our Greyhound on the whole it has been good.
I found this article very irritating — While I understand that you want to give as much information as possible so that people can make a knowledgeable decision, I certainly felt like you were scolding me and doing everything but coming right out and bluntly calling me ignorant for getting 2 littler mates and raising – training – loving them together. Two pups are a lot of work, but we are all very happy. Glad that I didn’t listen to the expert’s advise.
You certainly are taking this personally. The writer is trying to educate people so they don’t make a potentially disastrous mistake. My husband and I were considering getting two siblings, but someone luckily pointed out the dangers of sibling syndrome. Thanks to this author and others like them, we didn’t make that mistake.
I feel this was informative and not trying to scold. In fact writer made a point to say they don’t necessarily want to argue this point of view. “I’m the last person on earth to argue against getting a second dog, or even a third; my husband and I have five.” I find it great that someone can have a view or do something but still be able to provide information to the opposite view.
Also ignorance is not a bad thing as long as you are open to learning. Take the information or leave it but don’t contradict yourself by saying “I understand that you want to give as much information as possible so that people can make a knowledgeable decision,” and then in the same breath disliking being called out as ignorant.
Do you frequently take valuable information given to a wide audience personally? Just because your experience is an exception to the rule does not make the “rule” invalid.
Where in the world was she scolding you? I think you’re reading way too far into this. This is great information. I was considering getting 2 puppies and from the training aspect of it, I think 1 puppy at a time is much better. If you dont agree with that information then do your own thing and keep on scrolling. Sheesh.
I am just reading this. It is May 2021. Too bad I didn’t read this sooner. I just bought 2 pure bred mini dachsunds, 6 & 7 mos old. They are from different litters, a female & a male – they have not been “fixed!” Today is day 3 and I am absolutely overwhelmed! What in the world was I thinking? They are the cutest little babies – ever – however, too much for me. To top it off, they’ve had very little training. I didn’t give getting 2 puppies a second thought and was super excited. I drove 4 hours, one way, to get them. However, since I’ve been home, I have come to the realization that I should not have done this. I haven’t decided, just yet, what the best decision would be for the puppies. Honestly, I want to keep them and make it work. I have decided that I will do a “board & train.” I think this is the best route for the puppies and me. I have to add one more fact to this situation I have gotten myself into, I am a 70 year old widow!! Yes!! I live alone! This is a more than double trouble situation. If, by chance, anyone reads this I would welcome any replies.
Hi I was wondering how this turned out for you? Are they still with you? Has things settled down? Thank you.
I am also wondering how it is going! I hope you are well.
Excellent article of information. Thanks for providing objective, realistic information. I thought about getting 2 puppies but I will only get 1 now. Excited that i will get to experience getting a new puppy twice!
We adopted two (supposed) female litter mates (husky/shepherd mixes) …foster fails… They are 8 months old now. They love to play with eachother, but I have seen some concerns as stated in this article. They were already bonded at 12 weeks when we started fostering them, so we decided to adopt both. The “beta” female does get anxious when her sister is not in sight. It seems they do rely on each other for social cues when meeting other people and dogs. So I will start doing some of the suggestions to ensure they are properly rounded!
I agree with Linda. I have 2 litter mates, male and female, with no problems at all. I’ve even raised a litter from the female. My Mum tried getting 2 females (not litter mates and not at the same time) and she had terrible trouble. I think the difference is in the human and that I’m a much stronger pack leader than my anxious Mother. I did a lot of training and reading to be a good owner with my dogs and all of us are very strongly bonded as a result. I also found the article irritating and scolding and it didn’t take into account the human influence on the dogs, litter mates or otherwise, or the factor of being a strong pack leader. I do everything once with my dogs, what nonsense about training them separately or taking them to the groomers separately! There is no need to if you do things properly.
You may disagree with the article and find it irritating but for some of us the article was extremely informative. You and Linda have obviously been very lucky with your puppy siblings but that’s just it, luck. We have two 4-month old siblings, brother and sister, and like you we trained them together and took them to the puppy groomers together but our story is much different and we can relate to the article which I wished I had read before. We will not part with either as we’ve got attached to them and I’d point out that we are pack leaders to our other 3 unrelated dogs so nothing to do with being pack leader, it’s just some siblings obviously have a stronger bond to each other than other siblings might have. You should respect anyone who takes the time and trouble to write an informative article which is helpful to others, albeit not you.
This is so true. Kudos to you.
The writer is clearly depicting a worst-case scenario and ill-prepared situation. I wrote more about my experience with two girl litter mates I recently adopted (at 8-weeks-old) in the comments, but a good majority of this article is simply conjecturing with a lack of balanced perspective or well-rounded insight. Luck has nothing to do with it! Lol
I feel that all this info is super but on the other hand for those of us that already have 2 little male puppys this feels like a (boy are you ever stupid also.) How about some positive things having these little fellas. Now that I already love the puppies I dont feel very positive about them after coming across your article. Arianna
I adopted 2 Great Danes who are currently going on 5 months old. I didn’t know about littermate syndrome or consider some of the other things. Obviously double everything I knew and they are Danes so everything is more expensive. LOL. The only real problem I’m having is that the male will not walk without his sister. We force it anyway. We go in opposite directions, but it isn’t a good experience. We’ve been working with him since the first week of July and he still has to be forced.
We adopted two male moodle brothers at 9 weeks old. We had planned on getting one but the rescue organisation and the foster carer encouraged us to take both brothers and we fell into the trap of thinking they’d keep each other company when we weren’t home. They are lovely together and play all the time. There isn’t an obvious alpha puppy and they’re not aggressive at all and love to get attention from us at the same time, with no signs of jealousy. Our only problem is training. They are not getting the toilet training thing at all. One will often go in the right place, seemingly by coincidence, and we then shower him with praise but the other one will run over wanting praise too when he hasn’t done anything. The other one has recently taken to weeing in their bed and has done it twice in the same evening in front of me. He just has no idea and we’re beginning to think they will be untrainable. The worst part about all of this is that we live in a two bedroom apartment and therefore are unable to separate them much. We also don’t really have the time to dedicate to training them separately. My partners Mum has said she will take one (she lives a 10 min drive away). As heartbreaking as this is as we absolutely love them both so much, we are thinking it may be for the best but we’re wondering if it’s too late now as they’ve been together from birth. We don’t want to cause them any stress but we also want them to be well adjusted and not to develop separation anxiety. Any advice would be much appreciated!
We went to a breeder to meet a female boxer we had reserved. I mistakenly took my son and the breeder showed us a sister puppie that was also available. We did our due diligence and read stories about not getting two puppies from the same litter. I spoke with two dog trainers that I trust and they disagreed with the negative stories, so we went ahead with the purchase. The two dogs are very attached, but they have a great desire for human contact and attention. Boxers love to run , chase, jump and play. It has been a complete joy watching these dogs play with each other and with the family. There have never been fights between the dogs and they get along wonderfully. I think one of the keys to successfully raising dogs together is letting them know at an early age that you are in charge. We are glad we got both dogs, rather than just one.
Thank you for this article. I found it helpful and informative. My husband and I are looking for another pup. We lost our beloved Havanese back in May. We were seriously considering getting two from the same litter, but my gut was telling me it wasn’t a good plan. This blog validated my fear. We will be getting one and will consider a second later. Thanks again!
There are several problems with raising litter mates.
Firstly they are much MORE work than double the work involved with one pup.
Secondly, they age at the same rate, so when they reach their allotted span, you lose two dogs very close together.
Just never get two thinking they will be company for each other and you won’t need to train them, exercise them or give them any of your attention 🙁
On the other hand I have twice kept litter mates and never regretted it,
First time was two sisters – they never fought but I suspect that Pearl would have been happier as an only dog. She was quite submissive and all the male dogs preferred her sister, who was a flirt 🙂
I now have brother and sister. No fighting at all, though Sallee finds her brother plays too rough.
Just like normal families 🙂
We are now raising our second pair of male/female corgi litter mates. The male from our first pair crossed the rainbow bridge at age 11, his litter mate (Lacey) is still with us at age 12 with our 10 month old puppies, Gunner and Ivy. I will agree they do share a special bond with each other but they also have an incredible bond with each one of us, including Lacey. I believe if you spend quality time with your pets and train them you should never have a problem raising 2 puppies.
Totally agree. It comes down to quality time and training. I just adopted two siblings 3-weeks ago (both 10-weeks-old now) and I don’t have any major issues with them.
Couldn’t agree more. We had three littermate dachshunds. Only one left at 15 years old. I wouldn’t have traded a single moment, and trust me they were bonded to us. They loved each other too, but I feel like it’s in a dogs nature to bond with their humans. Of course some breeds may show that more easily than others too.
Problems Associated With Adopting Two Puppies at the Same
You could definitely see your enthusiasm within the article you write.
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This article seems to be a bit myopic. I recently purchased two Pomeranian girls (at 8-weeks-old) from a breeder. They are littermates/siblings. I brought them home and the first few nights they slept/ate/played together in their playpen and were put on an eating and potty schedule. Then I separated them a few days later with their own sleep/eat/potty areas (in the same room). They did fine.
At the moment, their daily schedule involves separate time with me during the day, and playtime together (2x/per day). I pick them both up a lot and give them individual attention. They do get jealous if they see each other getting picked up, etc. But they whine, I tell them to be quiet, and they wait until it’s their turn.
I’ve had them for 3 weeks and they are both 10-weeks old and both crave their individual time with me. The one girl does so more than the other, but she is just more mentally developed and very bright. She obeys commands, they both know their name.
The smaller girl takes lead from her (the more dominant one) when I say sit, etc. So, they learn from each other during playtime. One is more aggressive than the other, so I always monitor their playtime, but they love each other and don’t show malicious behavior. They both like to play and one gets tired (the smaller one) so she walks away.
While the author makes some valid points, as a thirty-something who has adopted two sibling puppies, it’s not necessarily harder. You’re doing activities that you’d do with one, but it’s times two. I get a full night’s rest, they know my schedule at 10-weeks and there are no big issues.
Every situation is different, so I wouldn’t use this as the holy grail when deciding to adopt two puppies. I knew I wanted two going in, as I’ve owned two before and at one juncture … just one. I always regretted not getting their siblings. It’s easier to raise them together as pups, in lieu of introducing another pup down the road.
I’ll caveat that I am an entrepreneur, and work from a home office. So, my schedule is my own in that regard. This could make it a bit easier for them to bond with me since they see me a lot during the day.
And Barbara is right. If you spend quality time with each one and train them, you won’t experience a lot of problems with two pups. The issue is usually associated with a lack of training. If you don’t have the time to train, hire a dog trainer and focus on the bonding aspect.
Also, I read some comments about potty training issues with two dogs.
Look, I brought them home and put them on a strict potty and chow schedule for the first week. Every two-three hours, they were picked up from their initially-shared bed/crate and placed on the pee pad and I’d say “Go Potty” after feeds (3x per day) and on their potty schedule. I set this routine so they’d learn fairly quickly where to eliminate. I did this at 8-weeks. They are both 10-weeks-old and get up from their crates/beds and go to separate potty pads when they need to eliminate.
Keep in mind, they are so young and it’s all about repetition. I also don’t give them free rein of the house. They are supervised during playtime in a specific space. Meanwhile, they eat/sleep and potty in their separate crate/bed areas within the living room.
I change their pee pads 1x per day (at the same time) and recently bought a Smart Trash Can to make that simple and efficient. It’s a TOWNEW Self-Sealing and Self-Changing Kitchen Trash Can and I dump their pads at the same time and replace them in under 5 minutes.
The first week was rough because their schedule left me a bit tired (after waking in the middle of the night to let them potty. But they have the hang of it and go on their own now. It seriously is all about training the basics and separating them while giving them supervised together time. Just like kiddos, puppies need structure. As their leader, you have to give it to them… or there is mass chaos.
Sure, it’s double the work to feed/play/potty but it’s work you’re doing anyway. If you create the right systems and train your pups, you’ll minimize your stress and behavioral issues.
Thank you for the positive support I am single and getting 2 puppies from the same litter
RE: double bookings and time wasting. That’s literally nonsense.
“Signing up for puppy training class? Set aside two nights, not one, and take them to separate classes. Going to the groomer? It’s two trips, not one. Time for that next set of puppy shots? Make two appointments, not one.”
I schedule their vet and shot appointments together (at the doctor’s suggestion and request). Very simple. The same thing with grooming. I schedule a mobile groomer to come to the house regularly (which is one appointment for both dogs). Very simple. Meanwhile, dog training classes are generally in a small group session so you can schedule both at the same time.
Don’t blame dogs for one’s own lack of foresight and proper planning.
The aforementioned examples have nothing to do with the inconvenience of having two puppies, but rather the failure to plan by an owner. (Lol)
Literally, this article is highly-skewed and lacks a well-rounded dialogue on the aspects noted. While some points are par for the course and common knowledge, the rest (a good majority) is mere conjecture.
Thanks for your perspective
Lastly, sharing thoughts online doesn’t make one an expert.
Real-life experience does.
I can’t say whether the author has adopted two dogs at once personally, but I do know that 12.5 days of training hours within the last 3 years and a multiple-choice test to get certified as a dog trainer doesn’t make you an “expert” at something.
So, I’d take this article with a grain of salt. Instead, talk to people who have done what you’re trying to do. Be realistic about your personal situation and capabilities. Weigh the pros and cons (list them if necessary) and make an informed decision.
While there are a few valid points in this article, it’s fear-mongering at best and the worst-case scenario of someone who can’t put one foot in front of the other. If you adopt pets and a) don’t spend quality time with them and b) don’t take time to properly train them – you will have issues.
Some dogs are higher-maintenance than others. So the breed will also play a role. Overall, I’m glad I adopted two girls (8-weeks-old) from the same litter.
What I’d do for one, I just double-down on for the other (e.g. Amazon Prime delivers their food monthly, etc.). I double-book appointments (i.e., vet, mobile grooming, etc.). I change their pee pads at the same time (5 minutes max). And I set aside sister playtime (2x per day) and individual time with me.
Consider their daily needs and how that fits your schedule and desire to make room in your life for two pups. It’s not ideal for everyone, but it’s not a hassle, nor impossible.
“I can’t say whether the author has adopted two dogs at once personally”
I’m guessing you don’t know who Pat Miller is. I feel safe in assuming that her opinion was formed by having many, many clients come to her with behavioral problems like she described in her post.
So while I’m happy for anyone, including you, who has had a very different experience, it’s just that. One person’s experience. Your single experience versus however many clients have come to Pat asking for help. Anecdotes versus multiple data points.
For the three commenters that adopted/purchased at the same time and had no problem, there are at least three times the number of commenters that wished they’d seen this article before doing it themselves or thanked Pat for a dose of reality before taking the plunge.
You have some experience with dogs. You don’t think this is valuable information for a first time dog owner? Is it so important to you that strangers validate your choices or that your experience be universal?
It’s true that Pat is a trainer, so by definition, she sees the owners that are having problems and not the owners that are thriving. So her experience isn’t universal, but neither is yours. Her experiences are probably more diverse though, with hundreds of dogs encountered to your handful. This is definitely an “err on the side of caution” decision. You’re affecting the lives of thinking, feeling beings, each with a different personality (that includes you and your family members). “I know a person who didn’t have a problem” isn’t exactly the best predictor of anyone else’s success.
Thank you so much for this article!
We recently volunteered to be fosters for the first time. They gave us two 8-week-old littermates and insisted that two puppies would be easier than one. It’s utter nonsense; I think the rescue organization just wanted to offload them for convenience (or if their intentions were pure, then they were woefully mistaken). Having two puppies at once is much, much harder—not twice as hard, more like five times as hard!
Our puppies have completely different problem areas, so we’re constantly scrambling to solve issues. He’s a loud barker. She’s a chewer. He bites. She wriggles out of the playpen. He steps in her poop. She rolls around in his. And they both scream like crazy when they are out of each other’s sight, even just for a second. It never ends!
We work from home and we give them lots of supervision, but even then it’s just overwhelming for us. We decided that we aren’t going to be fostering any more dogs in the future, and that’s a shame. Shelter pups need love and affection, and we went into this with really open hearts. They will be adopted out in two weeks and I hope they will be placed in happy, caring, separate homes.
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We have a 6month old shiba inu puppy (male) and found out that we could adopt a 4 month old puppy (also male).
They bought the pyppy a week ago, but their kid is very allergic…
Now I don’t know what to do… Would love to give the puppy a forever home, but affraid that it will not go with our other puppy. The one we have now reacts very playfull to other dogs, is not agressive, …
We just got an 8 week old female corgi and have been planning this whole time to get a female pug of the same age to grow up with her. The pug will not be ready for another 3 weeks. Reading this article makes me second guess our decision. Right now we are crate training our corgi and she wakes up 3 times a night to pee or poop. I am not sure what to do from here, because the pug we are getting is one I have wanted for so long- there is no guarantee that there will be another like her in a year. I’m easily persuaded by articles such as this one, now I’m just bummed and torn! Has anyone out there had a pug and corgi puppies together? Did you have any issues?
I’ve currently got one female cavoodle and plan on getting a 2nd one (a male) from another breeder so they are not siblings. The difference in age is 5 and a half weeks. Do you think they will still have the problems as listed above? the female one we have currently is nearly 4 months old so both are puppies. Do you they still need to be crated separately or does this apply to certain breeds.
Just want to put my experience out there…
We got 2 female litter mate Yorkshire terriers.
They have been the best dogs we’ve ever had.
They bonded with both my husband and I and with each other. They trained quickly and have never fought over food or anything else.
They are now 11 years old and despair of when we will lose them, but would do it again in a heartbeat.
We just brought home two male mini AussieDoodles at 8 weeks and they have very aggressive play time right now. We crate separately for sleeping and only bring them together a few times a day to play. How do you recommend breaking the aggressive play?
We bought a 8 week old German Shepard Pup. When returning to the breeder for his 10 in 1 shot she had said that one of his litter mates had been returned because of a heart murmur. Most puppies outgrow this – but the person wanted their money back and wanted to return the dog (not sure how this happens as we instantly loved our pup). Anyway of course she can’t sell him in this condition and she mostly trains dogs, so her concern was giving him love and attention. With that being said – we are living the 2 pup life now. We didn’t intend to do this but our hearts are big and we wanted to give the new little guy the love and attention he deserves. So with that being said I found the article helpful. I don’t feel like I was crazy or stupid getting two littermates – but I see the difficulties in this now. I do feel that they could bond more with each other and I do see that challenges and will strive to remedy this by the suggestions offered in this article. Before reading this we had already decided that my daughter who has two adult rescued dogs is taking the one pup who is aggressive and won’t leave the other one alone home with her for a while to give them space for separation and training time. But I do see the need to make sure they both have that one on one time with us separately – but not extreme.
I am in the Masonry Business and I agree with all your safety tips. You actually reminded me to have a refresher with my staff about safety precautions. Thank you and looking forward for more post from you.
I have recently adopted 2 chis , a brother and a sister when 8 weeks old. They are now 5 months old. I have to say that I have been spendig incredible amount of time with housebreaking, obedience training and socialising them. It is my first time I have been raising the puppies and though I tried reading as much, I made some mistakes however, i can conclude the following:
1. crate them separately ( this helps w managing hyper energy pent up, witching hour, etc)
2. teach them where to potty immediately
3. Teach them obedience
4. Teach them fetch or any other play
5. Socialise them early w ppl, dogs, streets, etc.
6. Give them love, tenderness and care
7. Leave them alone for some time ( separatoon anxiety)
8. Do not allow them into bed until fully obedient ( establish rules)
9. Learn tricks how to teach them good manners ( not biting, nipping, barking, etc.)
10. Have fun& lots of patience!
It took me 3 months of hard work but I can say that my puppies are well bonded with one another, as well as with me, other people and doggos in the park. It is all about time and devotion to training them.
This is a great article with sound advice.
We definately fell into the category of wanting two forever dogs, so why not get them at the same time.
We had always had multiple dogs and didn’t even consider that they wouldn’t fall under our spell, as all our other dogs had done, and quickly.
We were quite prepared for all the extra time and commitment they would require, and toilet training seemed to take a good 6 months, even though we would take them outside 3 or 4 times a night, whenever they stirred.
The first 12 months were just hard. They were very destructive, ruined furniture, carpets (by chewing it) even chewed holes in our walls. They were not left to their own devices as my husband was home with them all day every day, but this still happened. The problem was that they were so bonded to each other and took their cues from each other and didn’t take any notice of our attempts at discipline and training. We had training, dog obedience and then specialised training to try to understand the problems and rectify bad behaviours.
Fast forward and they are now 2.5 years old. Through the passage of time and maturity they are now very bonded and responsive to us. They seem very social with other dogs and people and we are more than happy with how they have turned out.
They can be seperated for a few hours with no distress, but they do read each others minds and the only real issue we have is that when we are at our local park, when they get hot, they will suddenly look at each other and say ‘lets go!’ and they will take off. We have absolutely no recall over them (they have great recall any other time) and they go for a great cool off.
This is their only failing. We have all come a very long way, but the first year was costly, frustrating and far from what we had envisaged.
I would do it all again but knowing what I know now, I’d do exactly what this article advises. We did the opposite. They were always together and that made it harder and more challenging than it needed to be.
We have two male labs from the same litter and they are 10 months old. Yes they are a lot of work but on most days worth it. They are crated together and pretty much do everything else together. Have only been separated one or two times when one went to the vet and the other didn’t need to. We thought this was the best idea until reading this. Is it too late to start crating separately now? I am afraid I would cause too much stress for them.
I am in the same situation. Two black lab sisters who are nine weeks. I have never heard of this until after I got them. I have had littermate dachshunds before, and it was a dream.
i didn’ realise there was all this wonderful stories out. i am 76yrs old and for several years i have been buying a puppy when i already had a beautidul older dog. Then after a few weeks the excitement leaves me and i make up a reason to return the puppy. then i get another puppy with the same excitement and expence an repeatthe cycle. sometimes i get my money back but often not.. i thought i was mad but it is wonderful to hear other people who have problems. i have done this several timesnow & have actually contemplated suicide.I have just returned a little toy poodle and my heart is hurting as i began to love him. Has anyone heard of someone like me. would much appreciate replies. thank you
I understand the puppy blues. I am going through it right now with my two black lab puppies. They are a ton of work, but I know it’s just temporary. I really hope you seek help. I think what you are thinking and doing is not typical. I am not judging you, but if you are having those thoughts you need to get to the root cause. Also just my opinion, resist the urge for now to bring another animal into the equation, I don’t think it’s helpful to you or them. Hope you are doing better, but please talk to a professional about how you are feeling so you can work this out.