By Julie Tobiansky
Fielding all the incoming calls about training, as I do, I get to chat to all the new and prospective members inquiring about puppy class. More and more of the calls I seem to get lately are from people who want to bring more than one puppy to class. Whenever I hear this my heart falls. Without wanting to sound like the prophet of gloom and doom I ask them why they decided on two pups and more often than not, the reason is that they feel guilty that they work and the puppy will be alone all day. I try not to think of all the dogs we help re-home who are the “other” pup which didn’t work out. Unfortunately many of the 2 puppy families choose the same breed, the same sex and worst of all…..two pups from the same litter. More than I like to mention also add to the mix the fact that the brothers or sisters are Terriers! ”Why not two?” they ask, “Won’t the pups be happier with a playmate and surely they won’t fight if they are family?” The truth of the matter is that your two pups are likely to:
• Bond with each other to the exclusion of you
• Fight with each other
• Be more destructive and boisterous
• Mature later
The best scenario would be to get one puppy first. Raise the pup, socialise it, housetrain it, play, train and bond with it. Once the pup is a minimum of 5 to 6 months old, you can start to think about whether you would like to get a second dog and start the process all over again.
The only good reason for getting dog number two should be that you want to own two dogs. If you are sure this is what you want, choose your second puppy carefully to ensure the dogs will be compatible.
It would be best to go for the opposite sex, a suitable breed (similar energy levels) with the right temperament.
Puppy number two needs exactly what puppy number one had with you:
• daily socialising (without the help of big brother),
• house training,
• play sessions and training sessions.
When the time comes for pup number two to go for walks, the walks should be separate at first until the puppy is well bonded with you and can cope without the older dog.
All of the above spells major commitment from you, the owner. Where does this leave the puppy owner who is sure they want (or is already committed to) two pups?
To prevent your pups becoming over reliant on each other the pups need to spend a portion of every day away from each other. Play sessions, training and walks should be separate. It also helps if each pup has it’s own handler to work with. Extra care needs to be made with housetraining as it is difficult to watch both pups all the time. Use a puppy pen or keep the pups on the lead while working on house training.
To prevent fighting, a natural hierarchy needs to be allowed to develop between the pups which means that unless blood is shed, you must not intervene in squabbles. Once you see a pattern of one pup seeming more assertive, help the pups by making more of a fuss over the pushy pup in front of the other. Make sure both pups defer to you, the owner, for example sitting for petting or treats to ensure that your pushy pup doesn’t start pushing you around too!
If you are lucky enough to have avoided the trap of two pups, do think carefully before getting a second puppy as two are definitely double the effort, expense and commitment as one. If it is too late – hang in there – pups do grow up quickly and with the right input and effort you can help to prevent some of the problems and make sure your pups turn into great dogs.