In short, it’s usually a bad idea to buy two or more puppies.
When you buy a puppy or even a trained sheepdog, it’s important that the new dog ‘bonds‘ with you, as quickly as possible. Bonding doesn’t mean the youngster wags its tail when you pat it though! There’s more to it than that.
All dogs are pack animals. That means they form a strong bond with the other members of the pack. To the dog, the pack will include human adults and children living in the same household. Obviously other dogs will be their first choice though.
Whether there are other dogs around or not, the new dog should include its owner (and the owner’s family) as respected pack members. Importantly, it should see the new owner as its pack leader. It should see itself as junior to all other family members.
Occasionally, people ask if they can purchase more than one puppy from us. We rarely say yes.
If you buy more than one puppy – particularly siblings from the same litter – they will already have a very strong bond between themselves. Unless you know how to cope with multiple pups, their bond is likely to be so strong, that it will exclude you!
Imagine two active pups out in the garden, and you call them to you. The pups know that going to you will be boring, after all, they don’t much care about you… The game they were already playing is far more fun, so they ignore you. If the pups bond with each other, rather than their new owner, it will be far more difficult shift that bond.
Do you really want more than one pup?
If you want a couple of pups, it’s far better to be patient and get one first. Establish a good bond with it. Then perhaps after about six months, when your young dog is really obedient, and respects all the family members, by all means get another. This way you’ll find that there’s no problem with bonding. The well-behaved older dog will teach the younger one, quite a lot about daily routine and how you like your dogs to behave.
What if I already have two pups?
In the end, if you do have more than one puppy, the position is by no means hopeless. It simply means you have to spend much more time with your young dogs INDIVIDUALLY.
This is not as simple as you might think. While you are out having fun with one pup, the other will know full well what’s happening, and it’s likely to be quite upset that it was excluded. You’ll feel guilty, and if you have children, they might not understand why they can’t play with both pups at the same time.
Just as upsetting will be caging the puppies separately at night (and when they sleep in the day). Left in a cage together (and yes, cages are excellent for young dogs in the home) the pups will play during every moment that they’re awake. This will increase their bond with each other, and reduce the bond with you.
Pups should be housed, played with, and trained separately most of the time. Of course they should be allowed to play together for short periods, but it will be hard (you’ll feel guilty) if you separate them. It’s much better to have one puppy at a time.
Bonding with the dog.
Establishing yourself as pack leader doesn’t mean you need to be cruel to the dog. Far from it. All you need to do is be Firm, Fair and Consistent. Play with the dog by all means, but teach it good manners. When you say stop, play should stop immediately. Biting hands or clothing MUST be forbidden from day one.
No matter how tempting it is to carry on playing with this “little cutie” don’t allow the dog to persuade you, or other members of your family to keep playing. If you do, the dog will learn that it can control you. It’s respect for you as a leader will diminish. It truly is “the thin end of the wedge”.
Find out about bonding with your dog (and getting a good recall) in our Sheepdog Training FAQ.
BORDER COLLIE SHEEPDOGS & FRIENDS – STILL OFF DUTY! (DVD)
WATCH THIS TRAILER!
Watch Pearl Glen, Mel and lots of the dogs you saw in our first DVD Border Collie Sheepdogs – Off Duty! PLUS MANY MORE! The DVD is available from our DVD Store – and we automatically ship the correct format for your country. More info.