When getting a puppy, should you get one or two?
It's done with the best of intentions:
- It's time to add a puppy to your family and you want the best for your new furry friend. You have gotten the bed, bowls, and toys...everything for your new friend. You go to pick up your puppy and find that there is one puppy left in the litter that no one has taken home. You watch your puppy playing with his littermate. They are rolling and tussling back and forth, wearing each other out, and a light bulb clicks on in your head. "Our family is busy and there will be times when our puppy is left by himself. I don't want him to get lonely. I want him to grow into a happy dog". You turn to the breeder and say, "I'll take both!" with a big smile on your face...after all isn't having two puppies twice the fun? ...
- You've had Fido for a week or so. Life has caught up to you and you've been really busy! When you get home from your long day at work, your buddy is so happy to see you and wants to play, play, play! You're tired and think," I could get another puppy and they could play together all day so they'll tire each other out and then when I get home it will be "lovin" time." You start looking for a playmate that night as your puppy chews on your shoelaces. ...
- You have a good dog that has a lot of energy! Whew, he wears you out trying to keep up with him! What you need is a doggy buddy for him to play with all day and burn off his extra energy...You'll get a puppy for him. Your older dog is a good dog and can "help" you raise the new puppy by showing it how to behave...
Whatever the reason for a multi-dog household, we have to take our feelings out of the picture and look for the best for our dogs from their point of view. Puppies at the age of 7-8 weeks have, hopefully, had the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons from their mother and their siblings. At this age, they are developing personalities and looking for relationships. They are ready to leave their pack and build a bond with you. This is the easiest window of time for that bond to form. You must bond individually with your dog.
It is much easier for a puppy to look to another puppy or dog for the bond of companionship. They speak the same language. It takes more effort for the puppy to connect with something that doesn't look like him, smell like him, or speak his native tongue. Bonding with a human and learning the human society rules can sometimes be a little difficult. Dogs left alone "to be dogs" are going to do just that... be dogs. They are also going to bond closely, sometimes becoming two halves of a whole instead of 2 individual dogs.
With this situation, we see an increased level of anxiety in the dogs. They become agitated when separated from the other dog, even a distance as close as across the room. They cry when their litter mate is not around. They become manic if one has to go to the vet for an overnight stay. It can lead to constant fighting between the siblings and increased dog aggression. It may even manifest as human aggression because the trust and bond with a human has never been formed. Dogs are reactionary animals. Some of them will land in a humane society where they will be un-adoptable due to their problems. Most people do not realize that this could be a death sentence for the dog. No one wants this for his or her dog's future, so now, what to do? We have to put our feelings aside and make a responsible choice for the wellbeing and sanity of your four-legged friend.
The "Unthinkable" for most people...Re-home one of the dogs. It is very hard to part with the dog you love. Splitting up your dogs is hard for you both. If you have difficulties with the dog already, waiting to see if they outgrow the behaviors can make it VERY hard to find a home. It takes a special person to try to fix a problem dog.
The responsible option is easier on the heart but harder on the owner....spend individual time with your dog. We understand this goes against why you got two dogs in the first place, but in the long run it can be absolute bliss for your family and your dogs! To treat the dogs as individuals means twice the "dog work" for you but also twice the love and devotion. Train each dog separately. Spend time with each one. Let them play together occasionally but you make sure you have more play time with them than they have with each other. They must have their own space to grow and develop that dog/human bond of companionship. You DO NOT have to keep them apart forever but they will need this individual attention for at least the first year of their lives or coming into your world so they look to you for their love and leadership.
Please don't misunderstand. We are not advocating one-dog households, we each live in multi-dog homes and most of our clients have more than one dog. You can have as many dogs as you want but remember that owning a dog is privilege and to live up to that you have to do what's best for those that you care for. We can help you raise and train your puppies. The best option is simply to train your dogs so they may live, love, play together and look to you and your family first and foremost for all their needs.