Training secrets by Commando Kennels


Two is better than one?

So you’ve decided to expand your family and get a dog. Wow great, but then you think- wait a minute, what if I get two? That would mean double the fun, double the excitement at almost the same cost – right? Wrong!

Why two?
Often prospective pet parents tend to believe that adopting two puppies would be better than having just one. With the busy schedules they have, they find it hard to give time to our dogs. The logical conclusion is that if there are two of them, they would miss them lesser in the day. Probably true, but this one solution creates a whole gamut of other problems.
Here are the top reasons why a pet parent would like to adopt two pups instead of one:

  • Company for the pups when pet parents are away at work or otherwise busy.
  • Since pet parents plan to have two dogs ultimately, they think it’s better to get two at once as the pups would grow to be best friends.
  • Breeder offers a discount on buying two puppies.
  • Social compulsions like neighbours have two dogs or two dogs would look so nice on your Facebook page!!

Two is not always better than one…
My advice to prospective pet parents is that raising two pups together is not a good idea. There are many reasons for the same. To understand why it’s a bad idea, we need to have a basic understanding of dog behaviour especially with regards to their pack drive. Dogs are essentially pack animals, as in you will find them moving, hunting and living in packs in the wild. By pack drive, I mean they are internally wired to fit into a social structure. Without going into too much detail, I would like to emphasise that the pack has a leader. When the dog enters our family, he needs to know where his position is in this pack. Believe me, almost all ‘dog biting pet parent’ cases would be avoided, if only the pet parent had taken little extra care to get this message across to his dominant dog.
What happens usually, when you get a puppy, is that the dog soon realises that he is in a new pack. He also identifies who is the leader of the pack and where is his position in the pack. He just picks it up from the way we interact with each other and the pup. However, when we get two pups at once, they tend to over bond, often to the extent of ignoring the human pack. While the single puppy looks at you for all its social need, the pair feed off each other. On the surface this may seem fine, but it leads to larger problems. Some of which could be:

  • Disciplining becomes an issue as they are always playful.
  • Training becomes difficult as you cannot get their focused attention.
  • Little or no bonding with the pet parent.
  • Dogs fight to establish rank in the pack.
  • Display of dominance to other dogs, family members and guests.
  • Separation anxiety related behaviour when the dogs are separated for a short time.

The behavioural problems…
The recessive one: You can imagine the plight of the recessive puppy, who is growing up with this bully of a sibling. He would have been so much better off in another family. He would have grown into an independent, well adjusted and happy adult. Instead he is left to be bullied for the rest of his life. This pup will never reach his potential as an individual.
The dominant one: It’s not too much better for the dominant pup. He lives in this false sense of security. His energy comes from the fact that he has this push over sibling around. Such dogs show extreme anxiety when alone. They also show aggression towards other dogs.

The facts…

More pups, more time: As for the ‘logical’ reasons for buying two puppies – If you are too busy to rear one pup, rearing two will need more of your time and not less…more potty training, more socialisation, more walks, more play, more tired pet parent!
Friends: you or someone else: Yes, your dog will have a ‘best friend’, but wouldn’t you prefer that best friend to be you?
Sale…he’s not a product, he’s a life: If a breeder offers two pups, I would advise you look somewhere else. No responsible breeder would suggest two pups for the same household. As for the cost, you might save a bit on the puppy, but double everything else – vaccinations, training charges, kennels, travel, boarding, accessories, the list goes on…
Don’t adopt for social compulsion: You are obviously getting a dog for the wrong reasons. Such pet parents usually end up with dogs in the garages and not in their homes. The only difference for them would be that they would be ruining two lives instead of one. Forget two, I would not recommend even one dog!

Rearing two puppies together…

However, if you feel confident, two puppies together is still an option you can consider, provided you bring them up responsibly and follow some rules:

  • Crate/kennel them separately.
  • Take them out for walks separately.
  • Define and assign their together time with structured play.
  • Lots of ‘only human’ interactions.
  • Train separately.

The operative word is ‘separately’. The purpose being, you want them to bond with you more than they bond with each other. You want them to grow individually into confident fully bloomed individuals away from the influence of the other.
Goes without saying that it is going to be lot more effort. Do you want to put yourself through this? It takes a lot of time, commitment and effort to raise two pups together. If you decide to get just one, you will soon realise that it is a lot of fun. Happy rearing!
(Philip A Butt is CEO of Commando Kennels – Hyderabad, India’s premier dog training kennel. He has pioneered many new dog sports and training techniques in India – Schutzhund, Flyball, Heel Walk to Music, Agility, French Ring Sports, to name a few. He is trained in ‘Arms explosive search dog training and methods’ at the United Kingdom Training Centre of Corporate Search Limited, Nottingham, UK. He also learnt techniques in positive reinforcement training at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, UK. As Joint Secretary of the Hyderabad Canine Club, he is an astute dog show organiser).