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Raising Two Puppies at the Same Time


You couldn't help yourself. You meant to keep one, the male with the lovely topline. Or the female that put her paws around your neck when lifted and laid her cheek against yours. Or the one that made great eye contact and always followed you around. Or the dam's favorite, the one that slept on her paws while the rest of the litter would sleep in a heap along her underside. But, you're human. You kept two. Now what?


Raising two puppies at a time is a lot more work and takes a lot more time and thought. True, the puppies have each other's companionship. They can wrestle and chase. You won't be raising picky eaters. And they can sleep in a heap when they're tired and full, each keeping the other from feeling isolated and lonely. But raising two puppies at a time has its drawbacks, too. When an accident happens, will you know which puppy had it? When you want either puppy's attention, will you get it? How will each puppy learn to be an individual if it is always part of a pair? If work is long and time is short, how will you socialize and train each puppy separately, then together? And which things can you let the puppies do together, which must they do apart?


Separateness Is Important: In order to raise two emotionally sound puppies together, it is important that the puppies learn to do everything apart as well as as a team. For confidence and individuality to develop, each pup must sometimes be taken out by itself and sometimes be left home alone. If not, the pups tend to become dependent on each other, the more submissive pup always looking to the more dominant one as opinion maker and also felling courage only in the other's presence. Even the more dominant pup will get dependent, feeling at sea when it finds itself alone. If you cannot separate the puppies for walks and car trips every day, doing so two or three times a week is fine. The puppy left alone at home will learn that it can do that, thus gaining confidence and self-esteem. The puppy taken out for a solo walk will socialize as an individual, neither bolstered by its sibling nor waiting for its sibling to make judgments for it. Both puppies will profit from the separation, learning also that they will be happily reunited after a separation. Taking the pups out together and then separately, you will probably see clear differences in the way they behave. Constant company gives a dog false courage. If the puppies do not get the chance to function as individuals early on, each may feel anxious when it has to stay home or go out alone later on. Even adult dogs that always have each other's companionship can get very depressed if separated. So time to function as an individual remains important lifelong, since we never know when circumstances may make it necessary for a dog to go solo for a time.

Teaching Two Puppies: What about educating the pups? How should one teach the basic commands when there are two little students instead of one? Some simple guidelines follow.

1. You can begin simple following and recall exercises with you dynamic duo working together, having both puppies tagging along behind you and running toward your open arms when called. For starters, the camaraderie will help. Dogs love to copy each other and to be part of a group.

2. When you begin to teach commands, do so gently for a few moments at a time. Starting with the sit, train each puppy by itself, with its pal neither visible nor audible. This will help you get and hold the attention of the puppy you are training. Try to have two or three five-minute sessions with each dog per day, a total of up to half an hour of work for you each day.

3. Once each puppy learns a command pretty well, it can work with its roommate. Now when you train, work one puppy alone, work the second puppy alone and then try to work the puppies together. Unless you are very experienced or adept, not to mention fast on your feet, each pup should have its own handler. Following this pattern, the puppies will learn each command individually, then learn that in addition to playing, eating and sleeping together, they will also work together.

One Handler, Two Dogs:

4. After the dogs get better separately and get the message that, even when they are to- gether, if given a command they must obey it, you can begin static commands with one handler and the two dogs.

5. When the puppies begin walking nicely on lead and then heeling, keep them working in- dividually for about a month. Heeling is difficult enough to teach to one pup at a time. However, if you have an adult dog that heels well, you can begin double heeling the puppy and the adult. Keep the older dog on the outside and use two hands and two leads so that you can correct one dog at a time. If this goes well, try double heeling the puppies.

6. It is preferable that the dogs understand that one person can correct them both, so as the training progresses, begin to work on "group" sits and downs with your terrific two-some. You'll also want the dogs to accept the fact that you might work or groom or pet each dog in the presence of the other. So as the dogs' concentration and ability to work improves, you might try alternate recalls, simply replacing the dog that comes when it was its sibling that was called. You can also put one dog on a stay while you groom or even pet the other.

All Dogs Learn:

7. Having more than one dog, you might want your dogs to respond to two names: it own and all dogs, as in "all dogs come" or "all dogs down." This is not difficult to do. The more you teach them, the more and easier your dogs will learn.

8. Now you can add a competitive game to your program. Smell it, find it reenforces the off-lead sit-stay while letting your dogs use their noses.

9. Mother knows best. When your pair gets too wild, do as their mother did and correct the more dominant of the two.

10. When your puppies ignore you and act deaf, put them on lead and train with hand signals.


11. Two puppies will be rowdier and noisier than one. A group down-stay will calm them when they're threatening your sanity. So will a time-out, each pup in its own crate. But two puppies can also be more fun than one, so if you have the stamina for it and you just can't decide between two favorites, raising two at a time may be he perfect way to go.