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Littermate Syndrome

What’s cuter than one puppy? Two puppies!! But before you decide to bring home more than one new pet, it’s important to know about littermate syndrome.


Puppies in a wagon

 

What is littermate syndrome?


Littermate syndrome refers to the dependency that can sometimes occur when two or more puppies grow up together. Contrary to what the name might suggest, littermate syndrome does not only apply to puppies from the same lineage, but is a bond that can form between puppies of similar age.


What is the significance of age regarding littermate syndrome?


The early stages of a puppy’s life are crucial in terms of socialization and being introduced to the world. Puppies are like sponges and their impressions of people, other animals, different places, or even smells and noises can affect their perception of the world as they age. For example, dogs who did not spend a lot of time around other dogs or cats when they were young may have a harder time socializing with other animals as adults, and may even be fearful or aggressive as a result of this lack of socialization.


For better or worse, socialization with other dogs can be a very powerful influence on young dogs. After all, it’s natural to learn best from your own kind! People who own a calm, even tempered, patient adult dog may find that their new puppy grows up with similar qualities. Now, imagine two high-energy puppies who are not yet trained or experienced in the ways of the world learning from each other. It’s easy to see how that kind of arrangement could lead to behavioral problems later in life!


What are signs to look out for with littermate syndrome?


Littermate syndrome usually refers to behavioral issues that may arise, including difficulties socializing, house training, obedience training, resource guarding, or destructive behaviors. For example, while your pups might know how to play with one another, they might find it more difficult to interact with other pets in social settings such as out on walks, at the dog park, or at doggy daycare if they aren’t exposed to different pets early in life. Additionally, more undesirable behaviors such as urinating in the house, chewing on furniture, or playing too rough/biting are behaviors that can be learned or encouraged between littermates.


Is littermate syndrome inevitable?


Definitely not! It is absolutely possible to raise two puppies in the same household successfully. In fact, sometimes, having two puppies at once can be a wonderful thing for the pups and the entire family. The key to avoiding littermate syndrome is to ensure that each puppy gets a unique upbringing. It’s important that each puppy gets an opportunity to experience new things - animals, people, training - without their sibling around sometimes. Allowing each puppy to experience new things independently can give you more control over the situation and avoid influence from their littermate.


If you are noticing any concerning or new behavioral issues in your pet(s), please contact your veterinarian for advice. Meeting with an obedience trainer or dog behavioral specialist may be beneficial.





For additional questions please contact us at 972-347-6100.


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