Raising two dogs together offers some wonderful rewards -- and more than a few challenges. If you raise two dogs together -- especially if they're siblings -- they can become so attached to each other that they get sick or might develop behavior problems when separated. According to an article in Canine Development, you should make sure each dog develops into a separate individual -- and for that you need to treat them as separate dogs, not just a pair.
Give each dog his own bed, toys, bowl and leash. Don't treat the dogs as carbon copies of each other, where everything belongs to everybody. If you crate them the dogs, crate them separately -- and ignore all the crying and whimpering this will cause. The dogs need to learn not to rely on each other for everything -- or you'll have them cry non-stop the minute you separate them for any reason.
Spend time with each dog separately. Two dogs brought up together will learn to entertain themselves -- sometimes to the point where you become less and less important. To make sure they bond with you -- and not just with each other -- spend time with each one. Take them for walks one at a time if that's the only way you can get alone time with them.
Train each dog separately. According to Canine Development, if you're going to take them to obedience class, they should each go on a different day. During at-home training sessions, focus on one dog -- and leave the other one in a different room or inside his crate for the time being. Once each dog has learned the basic commands, you can introduce pair training.
Pay attention to each dog's needs and personality. If you get two siblings who are the same age and size, things might be simpler. However, bringing up two dogs who are completely different in size and temperament requires more work. They might need different types of food, require different amounts of exercise and be interested in different types of toys. You can't expect a Cocker Spaniel and a Saint Bernard to enjoy the same activities -- even if they were raised together. The Cocker might be happier running alongside you on the beach, while the bigger Doggie might prefer long naps near the air conditioner.
If you have a choice, get a male/female pair, no matter their age. Dogs of opposite sex will get along better as they get older. Remember to spay and neuter the dogs, though, or you'll end up with a different -- but equally challenging -- problem.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images