Puppy Power: Yes, You Can Raise Littermates Together!
Charles M. Schulz summed it up best when he said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” So, if happiness is one puppy, then more must be bliss! Having raised three Siberian Husky puppies at one time, I can certainly attest to that bliss, sometimes zany bliss, but bliss just the same!
So, where does one raising multiple puppies start the training process?
First, let me start off by saying there are so many varied experiences and advice from others shared on a variety of sites across the Internet that sometimes it can be confusing and conflicting to know which way to go. Whenever seeking training and behavior advice for your dog, always verify your source to be sure you are getting the best and most accurate information possible. I have seen some really outrageous online conversations about not raising multiple puppies from the same litter. I say, why not?!
My daughter and I not only raised three puppies (two girls and a boy) from the same litter, but we had two other young Huskies, a two-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy, already in our family. A popular question I am asked is, “How did you do it?” To which I reply, "throw away the rulebook, because when raising multiple puppies together, there really is no hard and fast one-size-fits-all rule." But, there are some important things to keep in mind.
Here are some of my FiveSibes™ tips:
- Enroll in School. Puppy kindergarten class is a great way for you and your family to bond with your puppies, socialize them, and get helpful tips on everything from teaching commands to teething and potty training. Check with your veterinarian, groomer, breeder, community dog park patrons, and your local rescue or shelter staff to ask for their recommendations on a reputable trainer and canine behaviorist.
- Have Patience. When puppies are crying at night, chewing up the woodwork, or are decorating your floor with their puppy poop, you will need patience. I say just breathe, embrace it, and enjoy the ride! In reality, it is such a short period of time before puppy shenanigans will be a thing of the past.
- Quality Time. While it is important to teach them respect for each other as a bonded group, it is just as important to give them each their own quality time to bond with you. It is also especially important to carve out some solo time for the dogs already in your family, so they can be assured they are still your best friends. It also helps to ease any stress they may be feeling with a whole bunch of young’uns invading their territory.
- Positive Reinforcement. This is my mantra for all things canine. With positive reinforcement, training is much faster and pups are happy and proud with each goal they achieve, the same as with us humans!
- Don’t Fear the Crate. When they are ready, separate them into their own crates, positioned facing each other. A crate not only offers a safe haven for puppies, but most will love their “den” well into their dog years.
- Training Tools. A frozen (creamy) peanut butter filled rubber treat toy will become your best friend and help to keep the puppies happily occupied.
- High-Value Treats. Treats are our secret weapon! Make sure they are not only wholesome but also something über-special that they do not get at any other time to ensure you will have their undivided attention and desire to perform commands upon request!
- Be Consistent. Repetition—keeping to the same schedule each day—is truly the path to success with teaching multiple young pups at the same time. By being consistent, it lays down the guidelines to successful training.
- Sense of Humor. This goes without saying! Especially when one puppy successfully does his/her duty on a training pad and, while you are happily praising the proud pup, the other two decide it is more fun to rip that soiled pad apart in a spontaneous game of Tug o’ war, spilling its load (pardon the pun) everywhere!
- Record the Memories. Be sure in the midst of all the craziness to take time to photograph and videotape the growing pups. When the pups are all grown, you will love to look back at their puppy days and see how the family all came together.
To watch siblings grow up with each other, having the security of being able to play together, eat together, and sleep together—never being separated from each other—is truly a special kind of joy.
Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books: What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the FiveSibes.com, an online encyclopedia for the Siberian Husky breed and Canine Epilepsy information, as well as her international award-winning FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in American Pet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of "The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.
Dorothy is a 9-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2017 and 2016 for her writing, photography, and design. Her book EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy received the 2018 Independent Press Award for “Excellence” in the Reference Book category and 2017 NYC Big Book Award for “Excellence” in the Animal/Pet book category. Dorothy was also named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign and partnered with The Anita Kaufmann Foundation for #Paws4Purple Project, both inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Google + , Twitter, and Instagram(@FiveSibesMom).