Adopting Littermates: Double Trouble or Twice the Fun?
You did your homework. You studied the breed, found a responsible breed rescue and are now kneeling among the cutest little furry dumplings you have ever seen. The male climbs into your lap and his sister flops alongside him, charming the socks off of you. The choice is not easy, so why not take both pups?
Like many decisions we make in life, adopting puppy littermates has its ups and downs. Their antics are more entertaining than any TV show, but training challenges will arise. Be on the lookout for double trouble:
- Short attention spans - Littermates are very focused on each other and not so much on the humans (or the rules) in the house.
- Puppy see; puppy do - If one puppy has a bad habit of gnawing on the coffee table leg, his puppy pal will likely develop a taste for finished wood, too.
- Sibling rivalry - Puppy littermates will have noisy disagreements and one may dominate the other to a large extent. This can crush the confidence of the more submissive pup.
Of course, even if raising two puppies does mean double trouble, it can also bring double the joy. Setting yourself (and your new four-legged friends) up for success requires more than being able to rub two bellies at once, though. Having a training and bonding plan is crucial during their developmental stages.
Daisy and Jake, two sleek and sassy Jack Russell terrier littermates, hone their play skills while I watch with their proud pet papa, who wants to build a connection with the pups both separately and as a team.
The first lessons will include the following:
- Separate but equal - I like to work with one pup while the other watches, and then switch. Start with the pup’s name followed by a light Watch command as you bring a tasty treat up to your nose.
- Get it together - Put leashes on both puppies and hold one in each hand. Repeat the Watch command and this time, use both hands to bring treats up to your nose. Praise them when they look up, and keep them apart as you dole out the goodies.
- Social studies - Once you’re able to get their attention and have established yourself as their person, it’s time for them to meet the world. Take them on separate outings to local parks and pet-friendly stores. Encourage interaction with calm, friendly canines and human admirers. This will give you a good picture of their individual personalities.
You may question your sanity at times, since raising littermates requires twice the patience, twice the food, and twice the vet bills (not to mention the poop cleanup!); but after a hard day at work, twice the love, loyalty and wet kisses greet you at the door.
You have chosen well.
Been there, done that with littermates? Let’s hear your tips!