Getting more than one puppy at the same time isn't a good idea ... Fran Ardley explains why

Q: I am just about to get my first gundog and have the opportunity to buy two puppies at once from the same litter. I keep being told that this is not a good idea. What do you think and, if I do, how should I go about training them?

A: My instinct is to say don’t do it. However, much will depend on your circumstances and how you plan to house two puppies. If they are to be looked after in the house, then I would probably advise against getting two from the same litter as the management of their training could be quite problematic. Litter siblings will often form a strong bond and it can be difficult to get them to focus on you as the handler. You may also encounter separation issues when you take one away from the other. Raising two puppies from different litters or breeds can also create similar problems.If you plan to kennel them outside, I would suggest you use separate kennels and train them at separate times.

Taking on two dogs at one time and training them yourself means that you will have to make extra time for each of the dogs and therefore you must make sure you can accommodate this additional work.
It may well be better to buy just the one puppy, get some help training it, gain some experience and then in future, if circumstances allow, add another puppy to your team.

working cocker spaniel puppies

You will have to train each puppy separately

Other things to know about taking on two puppies at once

Many gundog trainers believe that you should not take on a second puppy until the first one is almost mature – irrespective of breed, same litter or sex.

Bringing dogs together with too many similarities (for example, age, size, sex, temperament and breed) can spark conflict. So many related characteristics make it difficult for the dogs to distinguish who is the alpha or top dog and fights can occur because of this.

Everything the dogs do must be done independently to allow the youngsters to have any chance of becoming separate entities. You must:

  • Walk them separately
  • Feed them separately
  • Train them separately
  • House them separately
  • Play with them separately

This regime will not have to be for life as the puppies will, after a period of about 12 to 14 months, have formed their own personalities and temperaments.

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We cannot stress how important it is to separate the youngsters until they are older. It will produce two individuals rather than an impaired two parts of the whole.