Are Two Puppies Better Than One?

Are Two Puppies Better Than One?
French bulldog puppies Harriet and Wiz were bred and photographed by Barbara McCarthy.

Margaret Sheehan drove slowly through the unfamiliar neighborhood, looking for the home of the foster family caring for a litter of puppies born in a local shelter. She found the address, took a deep breath, and told herself she would think with her head and not her heart, and that she would absolutely, positively, adopt only one.

Five minutes later, when two warm, wiggling bodies clamored into her lap, she knew her heart was taking over. How hard could it be to raise two? Riding home with both pups snoozing in their box, she was at once elated, nervous and full of love for these two tiny bundles of endless need.

Like many decisions we make in life, adopting puppy littermates has its ups and downs. Their antics are more entertaining than TV, but training challenges will arise. Be on the lookout for double trouble:

  • Say what?- 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 antique table legs, 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.

Training can be streamlined with two puppies, and at just eight weeks of age, they are ready to rock and roll in the learning department. My approach with two young puppies includes a few of my time-saving tricks:

  • Separate but equal– I like to work with one pup while the other watches, and then switch. I hold a new toy at the puppy’s eye level and give a  light Come command as I draw the toy in toward me. This invitation is almost always accepted and the pup scampers over happily.

  • Get it together– Now I put leashes on both puppies and hold one leash in each hand. A cheerful Come command and now I am drawing them toward me with both hands extended.

  • Social studies– It’s a great idea to take each pup out separately for short outings in local parks and to pet-friendly stores. Encourage interaction with human admirers. This will give you a good picture of each puppy’s personality.

Were you unable to resist a pair of puppies? You may question your sanity at times since littermates require twice the patience, twice the food and vet bills (and twice the poop clean-up!), but after a hard day at work; twice the love, loyalty and wet kisses greet you at the door. You have chosen well.

by Amy Robinson