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My two puppies are littermates and are now fighting all the time - what should I do?

Bringing home two puppies to keep each other company might seem a good idea but, as well as double cost and time involved, there are lots of hidden traps. In fact, many experienced breeders will not allow two littermates to go to the same home due to the problems that can easily develop.

These problems are sometimes referred to as ‘littermate syndrome’ and often include:

The puppies bond closer to each other than they do to their human family.

Two puppies are much harder to house train – as a result of which they are soon put outside and become yard dogs.
  1. Puppies that are inseparable often don’t learn their own name properly and so learning to respond to simple words such as ‘sit’ or ‘come’ is more difficult.
  2. Training is much harder with two puppies as they are a constant distraction to each other during lessons and so have to be kept apart during training sessions.
  3. If they are ever separated from each other – as when one puppy is hospitalised – they can become anxious and, as a result, house soil, bark or destroy furniture.
  4. As the puppies mature, playful fighting can develop into rivalry and serious aggression problems – especially between females; this often leads to the distressful choice of which dog to have re-homed.
It is hard enough bringing up a single puppy to be a relaxed and confident family pet dog that is happy in his or her own company.
 
Only knowledgeableand dedicated owners, with plenty of time on their hands who are able and prepared to spend time with each puppy every day, should contemplate the additional challenges and responsibilities of raising two puppies at the same time.
 
Problems don’t always happen and, if for whatever reason you already own two puppies all is not lost, these suggestions will make a difference in allowing them to become separate well-behaved adult dogs with their own personality and individuality. They will each bond to you and your family and listen to you rather than bonding to each other and ignoring you.
 
* Have separate sleeping areas.
 
* Feed them separately.

* Make them sit for one piece of food, then drop for another piece of food, then stand for a third piece of food.
 
* Use the remainder of the food to practice restrained re-calls (comes).
 
* Have separate crates.
 
* Play with them separately – with the other puppy out of sight and out of hearing range.

* Have separate toys for each puppy - especially food toys like Kongs.
 
* Allow lots of daily play with each other, but use playing as a reward for doing something good for you first.

* Take them in the car separately.

* Take them to the vet separately.

 * Take them to puppy school separately.

* Train them at home separately – with the other puppy out of sight and out of hearing range.
 
* Train them at separate group classes. 

* Take them for walks separately - until such time as they can walk properly on a loose lead without ever pulling, then it is fine to teach them to both walk at the same time on a loose lead.
 
 * Take them to safe off-leash dog parks separately. [If it's a long drive to the park, alternate their days. When they can both walk on a loose lead from the car to the park gate and come when called then taking them both is acceptable but not nearly as good as individual time with their special person.]

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