Welcoming home two puppies at the same time ... Twice the love? Sure! Twice the fun? At times.
Unfortunately, it is also way more than twice the work. As bringing home two puppies simultaneously, or even within a few months of each other, is such a unique situation with its challenges, I figured it would be a good topic for a quick blog. This most commonly happens when someone purchases two dogs from the same litter (a.k.a. littermates). Still, the situation can also arise when purchasing two young puppies - similar or within a few months of age - from different litters as well.
I've raised and trained a puppy every year for the past three years, so the reality of the work involved in raising a well-adjusted puppy is crystal clear in my mind. Yes, puppies are sweet and adorable. But they are also crazy little nuts that you have to keep out of dangerous situations, teach good manners to, socialize to new people and canines, stop them from chewing on everything in sight, all while trying to remember when they last went to the bathroom (and when they will need to again), and the list goes on. It's exhausting. Now imagine that times two. Will you be able to tell who destroyed your shoes? Mischief certainly seems to double when there’s a teammate. How about a wet mark on the carpet? Do you have a good enough eye to decipher which puppy peed? It's incredibly hard to keep track.
So while the idea of having two puppies at once might seem like a good idea at first glance - "The puppies will keep each other busy!", "You can put in all the work at once!" - it can quickly turn into a nightmare if not managed well.
I'm a big fan of multi-dog households. Adding a second dog to your family can be wonderful if you have the space, time, and means for more than one dog. Adding a second can allow your first dog to form a unique relationship and special relationship with their new family member, separate to the relationships it has with your family. But in most situations, the best scenario for adding a second dog to a family is after the socialization, training, and bond with your current dog is cemented.
Instead of buying two puppies at once, I suggest waiting at least 12 months after acquiring dog number one before bringing a new puppy into your home. That way, your first dog will be a great role model for the puppy. Some people have asked me what the perfect age is for the existing dog to be before getting a puppy. This is just my personal opinion based on my experience, but I think 2-3 years is ideal. The dog has matured a bit and is, depending on the breed, exiting the puppy stage by then and have the maturity to be an excellent example while still being young enough to play with an active young dog.
You develop a special bond with your puppy, especially in the first several weeks after they come home. When two puppies are bought simultaneously, they bond tightly to one another and less so to their humans. You might wonder if the same bond occurs if you bring a puppy into a home with an existing adult dog. Suppose one has an older dog in the home. In that case, the older dog generally won’t be as constantly interested in the puppy as another puppy would be and are often instrumental in teaching the young dog rules of the house and manners.
Puppies also feed off other dogs’ energies. Raising two puppies at once can result both dogs ending up in states of extended arousal. I compare the experience of being a child and your cousins coming over to visit. The excitement goes on and on as little rest occurs as no one wants to nap and "miss out" on the fun.
I will say, though, that there is one situation where I wonder if it might be a good idea to raise two puppies simultaneously: Land Guarding Breeds. Although I am fascinated by Land Guarding Breeds, I know very little about their training process. So, I asked Natalie Thurman of Apex Anatolians in Montana, and Natalie told me she does not raise two puppies together. She tried once with littermates that she imported to the states, and even though she kept them separated as much as possible, there were still issues, and one had to go live on another farm with another family.
If you're already in the situation where you have brought home two puppies, it is important to know it can work out, but it will require tons of work. Make sure they are crated to sleep and while you’re unable to supervise them in different rooms (floors if possible) in your home. If you have a child living at home, their bedroom might be a good space to keep one of the crates. Take the puppies on separate walks and definitely take them out for separate training sessions. Puppy training doesn't have to belong (5-10 minute sessions), but it should be daily. If you have a spouse or child old enough to walk them and follow your training instructions, these tasks will be less time-consuming. Regarding the separate training sessions, I would work with the puppies to go from training with you alone to training with human and other canine distractions to training with their littermate as the distraction.
Is getting two puppies at the same time a good idea? Probably not. Can it be done? Yes, but you’re in for a lot of work. Have you raised two puppies at the same time? Let me know what worked and what didn't in the comments below!
Ian Lynch is a comedian, on-air personality and Canadian Kennel Club member.