5 Things to Consider Before Adopting Littermate Puppies

We did it again.

We adopted another set of littermate puppies.  Some people wonder if we’re nuts.  I’m convinced many people think this was my idea.  But most people know that we’re prepared for littermate puppies.

My boyfriend’s guard was knocked down by high pitched bark and puppy breath and I got the text message “were you serious about wanting to adopt two?”

I never said anything about adopting two, but Scout and Zoey joined our family a week later and it’s been like riding a bike.

Newest family members Scout and Zoey

A year into being dog parents to Rodrigo and Sydney, I started receiving emails from people looking for someone to support them in their decision to adopt littermate puppies.  I get it, I did the same thing when I decided that Rodrigo needed a playmate.  But the flack that I got for the decision to adopt two puppies at once inspired me to do my homework, because it’s not easy.

When visiting an adoption event, shelter, foster family, or a reputable breeder – being in the presence of a litter of puppies is dangerous to your common sense, so I’m not surprised that people end up selecting two puppies instead of sticking to the plan of bringing home one.

If you’re standing in a room, soaking in the puppy breath, here are a few things to consider about your new puppies…

Puppies are expensive – food, vet appointments, pet insurance, dog training, dog beds, toys and other supplies.

We adopted a boy and a girl (again) and the vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries are going to run about $600 for both of them.  We feed our dogs a raw food diet and puppies eat a lot, because they’re growing.  Pet insurance is going to be about $50 more a month (for both dogs).  And toys and supplies are another cost that we have to monitor (it’s tempting to spoil them).

Money saving tips…

  • Ask if your vet has a puppy package that will reduce the cost.
  • We’re going to make raw food instead of continuing with a premade service.
  • Considering increasing your pet insurance deductible, which will decrease your monthly premium.
  • Sign up for a pet supply/treat subscription package.  Our four dogs share the spoils from one monthly subscription.

Puppy class may not be a possibility – with Rodrigo and Sydney, puppy class was too distracting and stressful, because the trainers wanted us to separate the puppies.  Each set of littermates is different so you may experience something different, but prepare for the expense of working with a private trainer.

Also, potty training littermate puppies can be challenging.  Rodrigo picked it up quickly, Sydney wasn’t convinced.

Money saving tips…

  • Ask if your training will offer you a deal; Rodrigo and Sydney’s trainer wanted to help us succeed as owners of littermate puppies and she discounted her fee and came to our house for training.  It was amazing.
  • Not many people like pet store training programs, but we met an amazing trainer at a local pet store and she gave us a break on follow up training sessions with our dogs which were helpful and did a great job engaging our dogs’ minds – they loved the fun.

Creating a routine – the biggest mistake I made with Rodrigo and Sydney was allowing them to turn our home upside down as I changed everything, because we had puppies.  Bringing home a puppy is going to change your day, but helping a puppy (or littermates) adjust to an established schedule is much less stressful than trying to create a new system once they’ve arrived.

With Scout and Zoey, we made slight changes to account for potty breaks, kennel training, and potty training – the rest of our day is the same and this has made the stress of adding two more dogs to our family less stressful.  More noisy, but less stressful.

Fighting for dominance – one of the warnings many potential dog owners receive is that there will be a time when the littermates will fight for dominance.  Rodrigo and Sydney had a few scuffles, but nothing to worry about.  We quickly learned what their triggers were to avoid them taking out their stress on one another.

  • Eventually the dogs started eating on opposite sides of the kitchen; they were too far from each other, but far enough to give each other space.
  • We didn’t leash them up until we were ready to actually start walking; putting them on leash in the house always lead to a fight if there was a delay in leaving, because our dogs’ over excitement eventually led to frustration, which led to a fight.
  • Confidence and consistency is key.  One thing I learned with our first set of puppies that if we don’t step it up as leaders of the pack, then they would and there’s nothing like two bratty puppies trying to tell the humans in the house what to do.
  • An exercised dog is a well behaved dog.  Daily walks and play sessions have always been important with our dogs.  A walk, a trek through the woods, or a play session in the yard.  If our dogs enter the house happy and exhausted, our house remains peaceful.

Partnership is key – my boyfriend and I had several discussions about who was responsible for one; both financially and chores.  It’s important to make sure the humans are on the same page, because once the dogs arrive, there’s no taking them back (for us).

Make sure that no one feels taken advantage of; make sure that all bases are covered, including who picks up the poop in the yard and who takes on the night shift – potty break(s).  Who will prepare and pay for food, pet insurance, vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, etc.

Working together will allow you to enjoy the all too brief puppy months and succeed during adolescence.

Dogs at the Beach, Littermate Puppies, Keep the Tail Wagging

Sydney and Rodrigo at 2 years old (or so)

We’re having a blast with our dogs and our puppies (I’m still stunned that we have two sets of littermates), but this is because we had an honest conversation about how this will change our lives and prepared for the work, the cost, and the responsibility.  Before you (or a friend) brings home two puppies, please help them weigh the pros and cons of such a choice.  Too many dogs end up in the shelters, because people didn’t full think through the decision to bring home a puppy.

If you’ve had one puppy or two, what advice would you offer someone considering adopting littermate puppies?

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