Should I Adopt Two Dogs at Once?

Adopting Littermates Does Not Double the Fun

Getting any Two Dogs at the Same Time is Not Better than Just Getting One. With any luck you are reading this before going to bring home your new dog. I’m telling you now, don’t let a breeder or the rescue talk you into taking two dogs at the same time.

I am a huge proponent of adopting dogs from rescue, but sometimes I hear “The rescue said they have always been together, so we didn’t think we should separate them.” Or the family says, “We got a second dog to keep our first dog out of trouble.”

But the one that really bugs me is when an unsuspecting person goes to a breeder to purchase just one dog and ends up with two littermates. I have heard it all too often. “The breeder said we should also take his brother.” Often an unscrupulous breeder will try to twist your arm to “take the last two of the litter”.

No matter how you do it, it’s going to be harder to own and raise two dogs. They just don’t take care of each other. I have trained many sibling puppies and littermate pairs. The owners come to me with the commitment of a monk, ready to devote “all the time and effort they need to training”. A few days later they still think that was a great idea, the dogs can keep each other company and occupied when the family is busy. After a while they tell me it isn’t going so well and it is always a lot harder than they thought it would be.

Here is a common scenario:

A family was just going to get one dog, but the breeder/rescue/pet store said they should get two. A few weeks later one of the dogs seems a lot more dominant than the other and one seems to be a lot shyer, even frightened. Although the owners think they have socialized the dogs because there is another dog for them to play with, in actuality it hasn’t worked out that way. The dogs are both uncomfortable around new dogs.

A few months later things start to get out of hand. The dogs are stressed whenever they aren’t together. It’s nearly impossible to get either of them to pay attention when they are together because one is commonly hogging the attention of the other. And it’s more than impossible to get them to pay attention when they are apart because they are always looking for their counterpart.

At that point training begins in earnest and maybe the family even contacts a professional. Often trainers let you practice lessons with them together, because that’s what works, and mistakenly think that’s the better solution. Unfortunately, even though you don’t realize it, it’s still getting worse. Since the dogs are really more of an influence on each other than the owners, they actually look to each other to decide to do something.

We really want you to think long and hard before getting two dogs at the same time. So if you haven’t made the mistake of adopting littermates, then don’t. Get and train your dogs one at a time and get to know each dog as an individual. If you have sibling puppies, the simplest advice is to proceed as if they are really two individual dogs. Make a point to give them each their own identity by giving them their own space and individual time with you.

Look for our follow up article: “How To Train Littermates Or Sibling Puppies Adopted Together” which will be coming soon.

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