Spring in lovely Franklin, North Carolina. Just as surely as the season brings back our beautiful, lush green world, it also promises to deliver literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of puppies to our community.
How many times have you driven by a car or truck in the Walmart parking lot with the back open and a litter of adorable little puppies peeking out of a box or basket? This year will be no different, yet I’m still surprised by how often Good Samaritans end up, before they’ve had the chance to think it all the way through, with two new pups joining their family at once.
You might be tempted to think, “If one adorable little puppy is nice, won’t two be twice as nice?”. The short answer is…. probably not.
Here’s why the responsible pet parent may want to think twice before deciding to “rescue” two puppies at once.
“The puppies will keep each other company during the day while I’m at work.” This is the most common reason I hear clients say they’re taking on two puppies. The idea is that the new puppy will be lonely all day while mom & dad go to work and the kids are in school.
The problem is, once I hear puppies, work and kids all in the same sentence I think…. this is one busy family. Training one puppy to be a good citizen is a lot of work, and training two puppies is …… exactly twice as much work. Except, it’s more than twice as hard- because it takes more skill and patience to train a puppy when there’s another pup right there for distraction — more about that later.
Almost as frequently I hear, “My kids each insist on their own puppy.” My standard answer… “Our home’s not a democracy, and yours shouldn’t be either.”
It’s very rare for a youngster to be able to fully take on all that’s involved in “raising” a great family dog. Right or wrong, I generally see moms picking up extra duty when the novelty of the puppy wears off with the kids. The average dog is a commitment of 15 years — so if you’re getting a dog for a child, be sure to calculate how old your new pup will be when your child goes off to college, or moves away.
I had a client recently tell me that the pups were “going to be yard dogs”. She wasn’t planning on bringing them into the house. But even “yard dogs” need to be trained to have good manners, not jump on or maul guests, and be social to people and other dogs. They also require lots of human companionship.
But most of our clients don’t keep their dog’s in the yard. Most of our clients think of their pets as bona fide family members. They want well-mannered dogs they can travel with, walk on the greenway with, have around house guests and in general be canine good citizens.
At the heart of the two puppies at once challenge is how strongly pups bond to each other when they grow up together. Even if they’re not littermates, puppies that spend all day together while the family is off at work or school have each other for companionship. The humans in the family often become unwitting wait staff for two highly demanding customers.
This month Dr. Todd shares tips for what you’ll need to consider before you bring home two puppies at once:
Tip #1: You’ll need enough time to walk and train each puppy separately. I often encourage people in multi-dog households to spend time walking and working with each dog individually in order to strengthen their relationship with that dog. You want to avoid dogs bonding more strongly to each other than the human family. This is particularly important for puppies.
Training one puppy takes patience, time and commitment. It’s nearly impossible to train two puppies at the same time. The same goes for leash manners – you’ll need to have time to take each puppy on separate walks. If you don’t have the time to train each puppy separately, you should really avoid raising two puppies together.
Tip #2: Crate the puppies separately at night. Assuming the pups will have a puppy-proofed area to play during the day, they should be crated separately at night. This will become critical to your success at house training them. Gradually you’ll need to move the crates further apart, and even put them in separate rooms. The puppies need to learn to be comfortable and relaxed even when they’re not together.
Tip #3: Socialize the pups separately. Puppies are most impressionable before the age of six months. Ideally puppies should meet new people and new dogs daily. If you have two young dogs, it’s important that they get introduced to the world separately. If not, the shyer pup may become overly dependent on the bolder pup.
Tip #4: House training becomes twice the challenge. You have to watch one puppy like a hawk to efficiently house train, now you’ll have to come up with a plan for two. It can be a real challenge to discover who is having accidents in the house. Crate training is an important part of house training. Remember though…. if one puppy wakes up and needs to go out at 3:00 am, be prepared to take both pups out— puppies have really, really good hearing!
Tip #5: Plan for the expense of vet care for both dogs. Puppies need properly timed vaccinations, de-worming, physical examinations, and flea & tick prevention to stay healthy. You’ll also need to plan spay or neuter surgery the first year. Playful puppies also have their share of accidents. Be sure you consider the cost of providing proper care for two puppies.
What about bringing home two kittens?
Cats and dogs are as different as, well…. cats and dogs. We have different expectations from cats than from our dogs. Adopting two kittens at once is far more manageable than two puppies. For more information on having a peaceful multi-cat household, click here.
No matter how many furry family members you ultimately decide to live with, we’re here to support you!