littermate syndrome unrelated puppies

A common thread seems to be that littermates are more likely to thrive when introduced into a household with an older dog, who perhaps acts as an arbiter and stabilizing influence. Try a joint game of fetch or alternating tug-of-war games with you, she suggests. Because littermates are so focused on each other, it’s difficult for pet parents to get their attention. To help avoid littermate syndrome or put a stop to dogs showing early signs of attachment, there are a few things you can do. This separate-but-equal arrangement is timeconsuming, exhausting and seems to defeat the original intent of acquiring siblings. Since fear is the canine’s default reaction to odd or unfamiliar stimuli, this muddled understanding of the world around them can lead to impaired coping mechanisms later on. She lives with her husband, daughter, three cats, one dog, and a pet dove. Dogs experiencing littermate syndrome may only want to eat if their sibling is present. Anecdotal evidence suggests that behavioral issues may arise during key development periods because the two puppies’ deep bond impedes their individual ability to absorb and grasp the nuances of human and canine communication. Copyright © 1997-2020 The Bark, Inc. Dog Is My Co-Pilot® is a registered trademark of The Bark, Inc. Littermate syndrome has potential downsides. Access our library of professional veterinarian resources. An owner should know that preventing littermate syndrome doesn’t just double their workload, but rather triples it. ", Cohabitating siblings may become so emotionally dependent on each other that even short separations provoke extreme distress. Dr. Cathy Barnette is a small animal veterinarian with 13 years of clinical experience. This happens because littermates bond so intensely to each other that they fail to develop connections with their human family. The key is to treat them as individuals, says Collier. From the beginning, pups recognize their littermates primarily by scent and that recognition is strongest when they are young, says Dr. Karyn Collier, medical director for wellness medicine at Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey. Socialize them each with other dogs. I will say I have had dog trainer friends raise littermates together without an issue on multiple occasions, so it can be done. Period. While there are indeed struggles in raising siblings—including ongoing dog aggression and fighting often seen between same-gendered littermates— there are also well-adjusted cohabitating pairs. She currently splits her time between part-time clinical practice and freelance writing, as well as serving on her county Board of Health. The email described a familiar scenario: “We were planning to adopt one puppy, but the breeder said that raising two sisters would be easier. Consider adopting unrelated puppies a few weeks or months apart, suggests Graddy. Perhaps one puppy is a bit of a bully, which his littermate puts up with, but his rude behavior might not be tolerated by a new dog in a new setting.”. This bond and the personality traits and training challenges associated, is littermate syndrome Signs of Littermate Syndrome Many experts and organizations in a position to know (for example, animal behaviorists, dog trainers, and rescue professionals), discourage dog guardians from acquiring puppy littermates. Sister's littermates. AND a $500 SHOPPING SPREE at Muttropolis! As your puppies adjust to their new normal, use treats and praise as rewards for staying calm when they’re apart, says Collier. If you’re considering adopting two puppies at the same time, it’s important to consider the challenges that may come along with this decision, so that you can devote the time and energy to positive-reinforcement training. Over lunch, veterinarian and dog behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar and I discussed raising sibling dogs. Our content and products are for informational purposes only. Is Littermate Syndrome Real? I’ve spoken to many dog owners who were overwhelmed by their puppies and at a loss on how to bring peace and order back into their home. The term ‘littermate syndrome’ refers to behavioral issues that arise when two or more sibling puppies are raised together. Potential issues include separation anxiety, neophobia (fear of the unfamiliar), and aggression. “While the amount of work will decrease after that time, it will be essential to continue separate training and play times with them throughout their first couple years and, in some cases, forever.”. Raising a puppy takes a lot of time and energy, regardless of how you go about it. After we brought the girls home at nine weeks, their behavior became increasingly out of control. I also know many people have and are raising littermates that are happy, healthy, well-socialized dogs. For these reasons, adopting two puppies at a time may mean more work, not less, for some pet parents. Remember that littermate syndrome is not a dog … If you have sibling pups that have been misbehaving (or you’re considering training two puppies from the same litter together), read on to learn everything you need to know about littermate syndrome in dogs. Littermate syndrome affects dogs over 8-10 weeks of age, which is typically when young puppies join their forever homes. She now approaches people out of curiosity. Diana, if you read the article, it recommends against this practice as it can cause a different and more severe type of anxiety issue. Maybe getting two puppies at once sounds reasonable, but many dog trainers, breeders, and shelters say that it’s much better for everyone involved if you add just one puppy at a … As University of California, Davis, veterinary behaviorist Dr. Melissa Bain points out, “Two fearful littermates very well may be genetically predisposed to fear.” Bain is less inclined to apply the term syndrome to the set of symptoms. Pet parents may notice these problems early on, though they may not arise until pups reach adolescence, notes Graddy. Cataract: Keeping Puppy Dog Eyes Clear and Bright, How to Help With Separation Anxiety in Dogs, 8 Things We Do That Really Confuse Our Dogs. We now separate siblings and inform adopters about the rationale for our policy.”. ... 02 Littermate Syndrome. Puppies with littermate syndrome only interact with each other and become highly dependent on one another for a sense of safety and normalcy. “Dora has blossomed in the last three months into a delightful household companion, and she continues to improve. A quick Google search of “littermate syndrome” will yield a … So, when we closely examine what has traditionally been reported as “Littermate Syndrome”, we see that it is actually not an existing syndrome and there is no such entity. One of the most common signs of littermate syndrome is fearfulness around people or other dogs – this may also occur when the two puppies are separated from each other. One of the most common signs of littermate syndrome is fearfulness around people or dogs. In turn, they could fail to learn and develop appropriate social interactions with humans, too. I've been doing some reading and came across "Littermate Syndrome". In fact, most trainers, myself included, do not recommend it for most dog owners. “This uniformity makes it difficult for the siblings to delineate a hierarchy,” she said. “It’s more than twice the work; it’s exponential. Littermate Syndrome (also knows as Sibling Aggression or Littermate Aggression) is a non-scientific anecdotal term that refers to a whole host of behavioral issues that tend to present when canine siblings (Littermates) are raised in the same household beyond the normal 8 to 10 weeks of age, when puppies are usually placed in homes. Most commonly, puppies develop separation anxiety due to hyper-attachment. It is not an official, recognized dog issue. It might seem more efficient, or easier to socialize and exercise two pups at once, but it rarely works out that way. Littermate syndrome can be serious if you’re not experienced with raising dogs and don’t work with a dog trainer. Wilde notes that planned separations must begin immediately. As we mentioned previously, related pups tend to fight MORE than unrelated ones and these little tussles can get quite heated. Unfortunately, the opposite is sometimes true: “Be prepared for two puppies to be twice the work of one,” says Dr. Heather Graddy, a relief veterinarian and veterinary behavior consultant in Englewood, Colorado. I think so. Make sure that your pups are getting plenty of exercise and interaction with you, your family, and others—not just alone time with each other, she says. 'Littermate Syndrome' refers to any undesired behavior expressed by a pet (usually a dog) that was raised with another animal from its own litter. The condition develops when two young dogs end up bonding too tightly with each other. Littermate syndrome can affect dogs of any breed, and it may also affect unrelated puppies who are adopted at the same time and raised together. We know she would still be fearful had we not separated the two before it got any worse. In her downtime, she enjoys meditating, weightlifting, and playing soccer. At first, puppies with littermate syndrome may seem like they’re acting out or in need of obedience training. My husband and I could not get their attention for more than a second or two—it was as if we weren’t even in the same room. “People assume that having two same-age pups who play together and interact constantly covers their dog-dog socialization needs, but they in fact don’t learn how other [dogs] play and have no idea about social skills with other puppies, adolescents or adult dogs. There are a lot of reasons why reputable breeders and reputable rescues will not sell or adopt two puppies to the same household. And, if you’re a cat person, know this—littermate syndrome doesn’t seem to afflict kittens. If socialization with other dogs is important to you, you may also want to take them out for separate play sessions with other pups. Unwillingness to engage with people or toys when alone. Littermate Syndrome Issue 1: Lack of Training and Socializing Training, socializing, housetraining, and caring for two young puppies can be more difficult than you'd imagine. I have successfully raised two sets of littermates and have not witnessed or experienced littermate syndrome. “Once we’ve done that, yes, he can live with other dogs and have free run of the house. It seems harder to get their attention, harder to teach them emotional control and harder to teach them boundaries" she continues "I have seen some nasty cases of bullying or outright aggression between dogs of the same litter, and it feels as though it is more common than between dogs who come into the family from different litters. “It makes you think all littermates have problems, which is not the case.” She also emphasizes that the level of owner involvement is key, saying, “The symptoms escalate when the owners treat them as one dog with eight legs.” When conflict ensues between the pair, Bain believes it’s due to the dogs being similar in size, age and gender. Interceptor is a trademark of Elanco or its affiliates. Most would encourage new owners to adopt a single puppy who suits their lifestyle and to focus on the training and socialization that strengthens the interspecies bond unique to humans and dogs. It is difficult to train and properly socialize two puppies at the same time. Tension develops in training and compliance as they squeeze the owner out of the relationship. Why? Don’t Take Two Puppies: Littermate Syndrome in Dogs | The Bark Learning basic coping mechanisms and picking up on important human–canine communication signals is difficult or impossible for them. Dunbar agrees that it’s often best to separate littermates, especially if symptoms appear early, so that each has a chance to develop normally as an individual. Dunbar, too, is adamant that one of the key lessons a puppy must master is how to be content with being alone, which is all but impossible with two siblings. “Littermate syndrome in dogs occurs when two puppies from the same litter living together develop such a strong attachment to each other that it interferes with their ability to interact in a normal manner with other people, other dogs, or any situation where they are not together,” says Collier. Littermate syndrome can be difficult for pet parents to deal with, due to the numerous behavioral issues that are involved. Littermate syndrome is when two puppies adopted from the same litter give more attention to each other than their adopted family. If you find you don’t have the time, space, and energy to train and bond with your pups separately, consider reaching out to your veterinarian, a certified dog trainer, or a certified veterinary behaviorist for professional help. Littermate Syndrome is the name given to the common behavioral problems that arise when two puppies are raised together beyond the typical 10-12 weeks (about 3 months of age) that professional breeders recommend. Littermate syndrome is the acquiring of two (2) puppies from the same litter that often leads to them becoming very aggressive to eachother down the road, placing family members in harms way. However, when dogs experience littermate syndrome, these behaviors are linked to their relationship to their littermate. Often certain components of puppy rearing are lost or done halfheartedly when there's more than one pup, as so much time is dedicated to 'surviving the madness.' LITTERMATE SYNDROME As mentioned in our “ Picking a Puppy ” article, littermate syndrome is a serious behavioral condition. When she's not working or caring for animals, she can be found enjoying the outdoors or reading a good book. Difficulty with basic training. The two combine to produce levels of energy that we can barely measure. Littermate syndrome: The pups are fighting . In the worst-case scenario, littermates may attack each other. If you’ve ever watched a litter of puppies at play, you’ve probably wondered: Do dogs know their siblings? “They were so bonded to each other that I literally could not take one and walk a few feet away to practice loose-leash skills because the other would scream.”, Wilde believes the problems are rooted in hyper-attachment, which leads to hindered social development and communication issues. Littermate syndrome makes training two puppies from the same litter especially difficult, says Graddy. Training two puppies from the same litter may take longer than expected because puppies are so distracted by one another. Those committed to raising a pair of littermates should ensure that the puppies spend significant portions of every day apart so each learns how to be alone—a key lesson in any well-thought-out puppy program. Two puppies being raised together were fighting. But if you don’t teach puppies early on how to be alone, and especially with siblings who have always been together, it will be catastrophic when one dies.” Dunbar encourages multiple dog households— “I always like having three dogs”—but the timing, temperament and age that each enters the home is paramount. She loves writing about all things related to health, pets, fitness, politics, and activism. Currently, in behavioral science, the advice is not to have two pups period, let alone littermates due to the possibility of “LitterMate Syndrome”. During my appointment with the family, we determined that the best course was to rehome one of the 12-week-old siblings. Aggression between housemates is more common between littermates adopted together than unrelated dogs adopted at different times, says Graddy. In some cases, the two dogs will fight incessantly. The easiest way to prevent littermate syndrome in puppies is to not adopt two pups at the same time, says Graddy. Sometimes this connection causes troubling behavioral issues known as littermate syndrome. When she’s not working on a story, you can find her walking in the woods with her partner and two rescue dogs, a black Lab named Forrest Gump and a Lhasa Apso mix named Abi. Jeff Stallings, CPDT-KA, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., owns Better Nature Dog Training and works with clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Littermate syndrome can take toll on a family, especially with kids. But I'd say more often than not it … However, preventing littermate syndrome can also be as simple as treating siblings as individuals from the moment they enter your home, says Collier. But if you don’t teach puppies early on how to be alone, and especially with siblings who have always been together, it will be catastrophic when one dies. Let me first say that there is officially no such official thing as ‘Littermate Syndrome’. While adopting two Littermates is not often recommended, it can be done IF you know what you are getting into AND are willing to put in the time to prevent the “Littermate Syndrome”. This fearfulness can occur when the puppies are together or separated from each other. Most people have never heard of littermate syndrome, finding out about it while researching their dogs’ problematic behaviors. After all, the thought of separating brothers and sisters from the same litter can tug at your heartstrings. While raising sibling puppies successfully can be a tall order, it is possible. It is not a useful, appropriate or accurate label to place on pairs of puppies who are afflicted with behaviour problems. Based on very little information, a surprising number of people jumped in and proclaimed this to be Littermate Syndrome and prescribed rehoming one of the dogs as the only possible solution. What’s more, you might think that training two puppies at the same time would be easier than adopting them one by one (and starting house training all over again!). Gradually separate your dogs. The good news: not all puppy pairs develop littermate syndrome and pet parents can prevent significant issues with specialized training methods. Littermate syndrome can be managed, but it is a lot of work. And then they started displaying alarming fearfulness of people and other dogs.” I made an appointment for a home visit so I could meet the family and the puppies. Because dogs with littermate syndrome are so focused on each other, they may also bond less with their pet parents. Myriad factors affect dog behavior, including genetics, early life experiences and owner engagement. 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