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Twice the joy or double trouble?

Why one puppy is all you need

There are lots of reasons why people consider bringing home two puppies instead of one:  maybe that one in the corner looked sad and alone, maybe your kids each picked a different pup, maybe you thought the two pups would keep each other company (and hopefully tire each other out!).  In reality, two puppies are twice the work, twice the responsibility and – all too often – twice the heartbreak.  Please consider the following before bringing home more than one puppy:

  1. Puppies are a lot of work, no two ways about it.  Until they are fully housetrained (a process that can take months), puppies must be supervised constantly to prevent chewing and soiling inside the house.  They must be taken outside every hour to potty and be praised for good results.  The process then continues during the night.  Your puppies may not be on the same schedule; are you prepared to multiply this routine by two?
  2. Two puppies might play together, but at a steep price:  they’re likely to bond so strongly that they can’t tolerate being apart.  All puppies have to learn to be alone so as to avoid developing separation anxiety, but this step will never take place in the constant presence of another pup.  For the first year, they should remain in separate areas of the house with the exception of 30 minutes of daily playtime together.  This means separate puppy-proofed rooms, separate crates, separate sleeping areas for nighttime and when you are away.  Is this even possible where you live?  Is it a commitment you’re prepared to make?
  3. Each pup must be socialized separately so each can learn to cope with unfamiliar situations.  If they are constantly together, they will only learn how to function as a team: the result could be two dogs who cannot handle unfamiliar situations without the other present.  Any puppy owner will attest to the time and energy required to socialize one dog; do you have time in your day to do this twice?
  4. Adolescence is a trying time for dog owners as well as parents:  their charges grow in size, become more adventurous and distracted, test their boundaries and seem to possess boundless energy.  It is the developmental stage most typical of dogs surrendered for problem behavior.  The cute, fuzzy puppy is gone and a powerful, muscular animal is tearing around the house, leaving chaos in her wake.  If one adolescent dog is too much for many families, consider how you will cope with two (especially two that pay more attention to each other than to you). 
  5. Two puppies become two dogs, both of whom must be fed, pottied, walked, trained and stimulated.  If one or both develop behavior problems, this will require even more of your time.
  6. Last but certainly not least:  the cost of two puppies.  Think of all that you spend – or will spend – on food, supplies, vaccinations, vet care, training school, boarding fees, replaced household items and so on…then multiply it by two.  Remember that the average lifetime expense of owning a dog is estimated to be around $10,000.

The bottom line?  Raising a puppy is hard work, but the stakes are higher with puppy pairs because of the high incidence of behavior problems when both are constantly together.  Your pup should bond first and foremost to you, not to his littermate.  Why not wait until your dog is an adult – two years old – and then consider adding another?  Just remember that adding a second dog will not resolve behavior problems in your first:  give your dog the attention and care he needs before adding an unruly youngster to the bunch!

This material is copyright of Animal Humane Society and can only be used with written permission.

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