Q&A: Should I adopt two littermates?

I have a 6-month old cavalier that we have had for 2 months. She has adapted well to our home life and is doing well in her obedience and trick classes. We are enjoying her so much that we would like to adopt her sister. I know that littermate syndrome is a problem. We would take both dogs to obedience training (each with their own person). Do you think the problems that are often seen with littermates might be less since they have lived apart for 2 months? ~Wendy

Hello Wendy,

I think I can help you there! Socialization questions are actually some of my favorite.

I’m guessing this is the breed you are talking about? Tell you the truth, breed is beside the point for your question; social development is much the same in every dog breed. So, let’s tackle your concerns!

Puppies do first begin to develop important social skills among litter-mates, vital to lifelong growth. Since you’ve been immersing your pup in a social environment with several other handlers and puppies (the classes you’ve spoke of), she has continued to strengthen these skills. In my opinion, the social contact your dog is getting in these classes is far more important to her lifelong development than the actual training you are paying for.

Remember those ‘priceless’ commercials on television? You might say ‘Obedience training can be bought, but social skills are priceless!’ That being said, keep it up! The socialization puppies get in these classes is fantastic; every owner should do this!

I don’t think you have to worry about Littermate Syndrome, especially since your puppy has already been building upon her social skills by meeting and interacting with so many other humans/pets.

Her sister might be a separate issue, but as long as you continue to focus on socialization training for both of them, introducing them to other animals/people and ensuring each experience is a positive one, they should be fine.

Dogs are more prone to developing ‘Littermate Syndrome’, or fear around other humans/dogs in general, if they either receive no social contact outside their siblings, negative social contract, or are very poorly socialized. As long as you keep doing what you are doing, both will grow to be happy and social dogs!

I always like to point out- it is far easier to socialize a puppy. Trying to build social skills in a poorly trained adult can be much harder to near impossible.

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Junior Watson

Junior is the DogTrainingBasics.com resident "Top Dog". He enjoys walks in the park, chasing invisible cats, and of course... bacon strips!

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