You know what's cuter than a new puppy? Two (or three, or four) new puppies! When first-time owners are picking out a new dog, it can be tempting to take them all home. Of course, that's not always possible—but some people do have room in their hearts and homes for more than one puppy. Bringing home two dogs sounds great on paper: they can play together, they'll keep each other company throughout the day, and they might even be easier to potty train. Dog owners won't have to worry about their pups lacking proper socialization and they definitely won't suffer from separation anxiety. The pros definitely outweigh the cons, right?! Not quite.
While it may be tempting to bring home two new puppies at once, there's one major drawback. Professional trainer and K-9 handler Garret Wing of American Standard K9 explained the dangers of "littermate syndrome" in a recent video shared on his TikTok account. This phenomenon involving multiple young dogs can lead to serious—and potentially dangerous—behavioral issues down the road.
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"Littermate syndrome can come about when you buy two dogs from the same litter," Wing says in the clip. "Instead of bringing one puppy home, you said, 'You know what? Our puppy needs a friend. Let's buy two puppies.'" He goes to explain that this will "come back to bite you in the butt" as the two puppies grow up in the same house.
"Inevitably, they're going to do pretty much everything together. They'll eat together, sleep together, drink together, play together," Wing says. "What's gonna happen is they're gonna form an extremely tight bond—such a tight bond that you are no longer part of their pack."
Rather than connecting with your new puppies and forming a family, Wing says you'll be more like a zookeeper. While this is called "littermate syndrome," it can still happen with puppies from different litters and even different breeds. In the video, Wing shows two puppies who are having so much fun playing with one another that they never check in with either of the humans. He explains that no dog owner can recreate the fun that they have together or penetrate their bond. This behavior continues as they become adult dogs. In part two of Wing's video, he explains what the continuation may look like.
The two dogs in the video, Blue and Murphy, are around 4 months old and play with each other often—but they do not live together or play all the time. However, when they are together, it's clear that they don't care about the humans around them. Wing points out that your puppy can form friendships and have play dates with other pups, but you need to space it out, so they don't become too attached.
When you bring home a new puppy, it's crucial form a bond with them immediately. Take them everywhere with you to form a pack. If dogs do not form a pack with their humans, and instead form one with another dog, they can become hard to control. As a trainer, it becomes difficult to teach them new behaviors because all they want is to play with their buddy and they're not used to looking to people for direction.
If you suspect your dogs are suffering from littermate syndrome, it takes a lot of work and a professional trainer to break through the dogs' bond and have productive training sessions. Sometimes, dog owners may need to consult with an animal behaviorist to work through any behavior problems that may come with having two puppies at the same time.
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