You go to the local shelter to choose your longed-for puppy. There are two left, both as cute as the other. It seems so cruel to split them up and leave one lonely puppy behind. Then it dawns on you – why not take them both? You’ll be housebreaking one, so one more won’t make a difference. Right? That’s how my husband and I came home with not one, but two bouncy balls of puppy fluff. Looking back, it may have been a naïve decision, but we have two canine companions whom we wouldn’t change for all the money in the world.
Over the years, I’ve met many breeders who state that under no circumstances would they allow anyone to buy more than one puppy. In fact, some suggested that it was tantamount to animal cruelty. But as I think of the years Sam and Lizzie have spent together, I wonder what might be so terrible. I know that I am biased, but we have two fabulous dogs. Everyone says so. That’s not to say that raising two puppies at once has been easy, and it’s certainly not for everyone. If you are thinking about getting two instead of one, there are five things you should definitely consider first.
1. The cost of two puppies
A lot of people think getting two at once will be cheaper. One dog bed, one crate, etc. Think again. Two puppies equals twice the cost. Vet bills, food bills, boarding bills – they’ll all be doubled. And you might want separate dog crates for them so that they have space of their own.
2. Their genders
If you’re going to bring two or more dogs into the same home, you need to consider the sex of each dog. Two un-neutered males can become very aggressive with each other as they vie for top-dog status. Likewise, two female dogs will not necessarily get along with each other. Spaying and neutering is highly recommended and, if you get a boy and girl as we did, it’s essential. In a home with multiple dogs, it is key to avoiding unwanted litters and unwanted aggression.
3. Whether you have enough space for both as adults
Do you know how big each dog will get? My husband wanted a Pomeranian, and we figured they would be so small that two would barely take up any space. What we didn’t learn until later is that they are a Pomeranian-Siberian Husky mix. By the time Sam topped out at 55 pounds, we were the owners of a much larger crate and a large indoor run. Fortunately for us, size was not a problem, but it’s an all-too-common story of the owner who dumps the dog at the shelter because he’s no longer small and cute. Be absolutely sure of how much dog you want. If they grow to be bigger than expected, can you handle having two in the house?
4. The challenge of house training two puppies
We were fortunate that Sam never wanted to use the inside of our house as a toilet and, for the most part, Lizzie copied and learned from him, (with the exception of the day she kindly dragged my shoes over to rest atop the pile of poop she left on the stairs). We were lucky. You may find yourself at the other extreme and constantly cleaning up twice the puddles and piles.
5. Behavior – good and bad – and puppy training
This is where owning two puppies can have numerous pros and cons. On the one hand, they can learn from each other, which can help enormously with house training and behavior training in general. On the other hand, if you’ve seen the destruction that one bored puppy can do, try to imagine what two can do together! Fences, furniture, carpet – it’s quite amazing what two sets of sharp, little puppy teeth can accomplish in a very short time.
One key benefit of owning two puppies, or two dogs of any age, is the company factor. Dogs are social pack animals by nature. They love company. The staff at Dogtown, a dog daycare in Lexington, note that dogs who live with other dogs tend to be less depressed when their owners are gone for long periods of time and, because they have a constant playmate, are often less likely to be overweight. They also tend to do well in group play with other dogs. There is the risk of over protectiveness, though, and one may become more aggressive if they feel that their sibling is being threatened. This is something that can be dealt with in training. Good training is vital with any dog, but even more so with two.
It is important to make sure that the puppies, much as they love being together, learn to spend time apart from each other. Although this may develop naturally as they grow older, you should spend one-on-one time with each of them and occasionally separate them so that they are not entirely dependent upon one another.
Rearing two puppies is not an easy task. Like any dog owner, I think that my two are the greatest creatures in the canine world, but would I recommend getting two puppies at the same time? It depends on the person, and in most instances, I would suggest getting one and then getting another a few years later. Having two people rather than one in the household certainly helped with training and discipline, and there are most definitely things that we would do differently next time around. Then again, as I look down at my feet and see Lizzie curled up under my computer desk and Sam lying protectively across the doorway, I know that I am lucky to have twice the dog, and twice the love.
Let’s hear from you, readers. Did you get two puppies at the same time? Please share your experiences and tips in the comments.
Read more about raising puppies on Dogster:
About the author: Fiona Young-Brown is a British writer and author in Lexington, KY. When not catering to the every whim of her two Pomeranian-Siberian Husky rescues, she writes about food, travel, and health. You can follow her on Twitter at @fionayoungbrown.