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Dog times two

Households with two or more dogs are more common than you think. Here’s the scenario I hear over and over:

We went to the breeder and there were only two puppies left. We had only planned to get one, and we picked out the one we wanted, but then the other one looked so sad to be left behind, so we took that one, too.”


This occurs so often that I’m beginning to wonder if breeders put two puppies in the pen and remove the other littermates to some other place while there is a buyer present. This could be a successful tactic given that the urge to not leave a puppy behind is so compelling.

Now I’m going to talk about Beagles.

I like the website called Your Pure Bred Puppy because it breaks down the essence of breed characteristics into realistic components – what’s good about the breed, what’s bad about the breed. Here’s what the site says are the bad things about Beagles:

Slowness to learn and an independent “what’s in it for me?” attitude toward training — can be very stubborn; running away, oblivious to your calls, when an interesting scent catches his attention; slowness to housebreak; baying and howling; shedding; distinctive houndy odor; chronic health problems (joint, ear and skin).

Keep in mind that these traits have nothing to do with an individual dog’s temperament. I’ve met manic Beagles and couch potato Beagles. That said, if the Beagle you adopt has any of the aforementioned traits, you have some challenges ahead. If the Beagle is a puppy when you adopt it, there are also the usual puppy behaviors to expect: chewing, obedience, and all-around taming of the wild beast within.

My clients are a lovely couple who adopted Mindy and Morgan, two female Beagles who are sisters from the same litter. I was hired when the puppies were approximately eight months old. This roughly coincides with Mindy and Morgan’s adolescence. If you have ever had teenage children, you may have an inkling of what my clients were experiencing.

Two puppies from the same litter, and they are Beagles, no less.

Here is the conversation overheard between these dogs when I met them:

Mindy: Who’s at the door?

Morgan: I don’t know. Let’s go see. But first, let’s bay really really loud and run in frenzied circles around the room, jumping on all the furniture. You take that chair that always falls and crashes on the floor. Cool! I’ll leap on the door, and then you join in, okay?

Mindy: Good idea. Hey, it’s some tall lady. Let’s run out now while the door is cracked open. I’m not wearing a leash or a collar. This is great! Freedom!

Morgan: Wait up, I’m right behind you.

Mindy: Hang on for a sec. I have to stop and poop on the front lawn.

Morgan: That’s alright; I’ll eat it. That really grosses out Mom.

Mindy: Here she comes. Just like I thought she would, she’s gonna chase us. Run faster. Look back at her, too, it really drives her nuts when we do that.

Morgan: You gotta bark louder. And go across the road as quick as you can. Don’t worry, that car isn’t going very fast. You can beat it.

So, the owners and I dutifully chase down the girls, bring them in the house, and watch their playful antics while we muse on creative ways to manage the twins.

I usually start by separating the dogs. It’s nearly impossible to get a dog’s attention when her closest buddy is in the vicinity. But of course, once separated, the dogs are nearly frantic about the location of the other dog. I therefore I advise the owners, for future reference, to keep the dogs apart from each other for short walks, trips in the cars, etc., for just this reason.

We do some basic one-on-one leash work with each individual dog – sit/stays, coming when called, and walking to heel. Each dog learns to not answer the door, since they can’t pay the pizza guy anyway. Then, we put the dogs together, pause while they greet each other after that heartbreakingly long separation (20 minutes, give or take) and do the whole thing over again as a pair.

Dogs in multiple in a household are a wonderful concept. I have multiple dogs myself. However, there is an easier way to have more than one dog than getting two puppies from the same litter. Easier, that is, in terms of your own blood pressure, sanity, marriage, and furniture. Before you consider the addition of multiple dogs to your home, here are some suggestions:

  • Dogs are unrelated

  • Dogs are opposite genders

  • Dogs are spayed/neutered

  • Dogs are different ages

  • Dogs are obtained at different times (preferably a year or two apart)

  • Dogs have proven that they get along with each other outside, and inside, the home

  • Owners have the time to feed, care for, walk, and train both dogs together and apart

Yes, there are many, many exceptions to these suggestions, which is why they are suggestions, not rules. Your own household may have 10 dogs, all the same gender, all littermates, that are models of canine citizenship. If so, by all means, tell me! I’d love to hear about them.

One more suggestion. If you already have a dog and want another, visit or your local shelter or rescue group adoption clinic – a few are listed in the margin of this blog – and give your second dog a second chance.

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