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Littermate Syndrome

Littermate syndrome. What is it? Is it real? How do you avoid it?

To start with, yes it is very real. What most people do not know however is that it can occur with any 2 or more puppies within 6 months age of each other. It does NOT occur just with puppies from the same litter. So what is it? Well it is generally described as a hyper attachment/emotional dependency on each other. This is where the puppies bond more to each other than the humans in their household. While some people may not see this as a problem and instead may feel it could be a good thing because when the owner is off at work the dogs won't feel so lonely. You see, what is often misunderstood is that what ends up happening is that you get puppies that love each other who turn into dogs who can't function without each other. Dogs who will blow off the owners commands because the other dog holds more value. Often one if not both, pups grow into adult dogs who suffer from extreme anxiety and lack of confidence when faced with a situation where the other dog is not present. But that is just one side to littermate syndrome. There have been many situations, particularly with dogs of the same sex, who once they reach maturity begin to fight. In the beginning it may seem manageable but it will and does escalate into a situation where one dog may not survive due to injuries sustained in the fight. This isn't something that just happens with littermates who are not dog friendly outside their pack, this can and does happen with dog friendly littermates as well. Is this sort of fighting always the end result? No, of course not.

You see there are many things that can be done to help prevent littermate syndrome before it even begins. It is ALOT of work but if you are dedicated and knowledgeable or guided by a trainer who is, then it is possible to raise puppies of the same or similar age together and get happy, healthy and well rounded dogs. How do you to this? Well, I obviously can't write you a step by step guide but I can give you a few tips to get you started until you get set up with a trainer who is familiar with littermates. Feed and crate separately. In separate rooms. Walk them separately. Do not allow wrestling when they are together. Remember that these are just the very basics to setting your pups up for success. Be sure you get in touch with a trainer as early as possible to ensure you get a training plan that is right for your pups. Most of all, do not get littermates or puppies with 6 months of age of each other unless you are absolutely sure you have the time and dedication to see it through to success. The easiest and most successful way to have multiple dogs is to get one, train it, then get another a year or so later.

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