We frequently get requests to purchase two puppies from the same litter as families like the idea of their dog having a playmate and being raised with a sibling / littermate. Many people also (mistakingly) think raising two puppies at the same time will be easier than just having one. While it sounds enticing, we want to make sure that prospective owners are familiar with a very real issue labeled "littermate syndrome" before making the decision to purchase two pups.
Littermate syndrome refers to a condition that can occur when two puppies from the same litter are raised together in the same household. It is characterized by an unusually strong bond between the littermates, which can lead to behavioral and developmental issues if not properly managed.
When two puppies are raised together, they may become overly dependent on each other and have difficulty forming strong bonds with humans. They may exhibit separation anxiety when separated, struggle with socialization and training, and have difficulty adapting to new environments or experiences outside of their sibling relationship.
Littermate syndrome can manifest in various ways, such as increased aggression or fearfulness towards other dogs or people, difficulty focusing on individual training, and an overall lack of independence. The strong bond between the littermates can prevent them from fully developing their own identities and learning important social skills.
When our prospective families ask to purchase littermates, we discourage but we don't refuse. Instead, we educate families on how to mitigate littermate syndrome, Taking proactive measures from the beginning can help eliminate the issues. Here are some strategies to help:
1. Separate their living spaces: Provide separate sleeping areas and crates for each puppy to promote individuality and prevent excessive dependence on one another. This helps them develop independence and reduces the likelihood of separation anxiety.
2. Individual attention and training: Spend quality time individually with each puppy. Engage in separate training sessions, playtime, and walks to establish a bond with each dog. This helps them develop their own relationship with humans and build confidence outside of their sibling dynamic.
3. Socialization with other dogs and people: Expose each puppy to a variety of social situations, different dogs, and new people. This helps them learn how to interact with others, build their social skills, and become well-rounded dogs.
4. Separate training sessions: Train each puppy separately to ensure they learn to respond to commands individually and focus on their own training. This prevents them from relying solely on each other for cues and commands.
5. Independent experiences: Allow each puppy to have separate experiences outside of their sibling relationship. Take them on individual outings, introduce them to new environments, and expose them to different stimuli to build their confidence and adaptability.
6. Gradual separations: Gradually increase the time spent apart from each other. Start with short separations and gradually extend the duration. This helps them learn that being alone is not a cause for distress and reduces separation anxiety.
7. Seek professional guidance: Consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who has experience with littermate syndrome. They can provide personalized advice and guidance to help you navigate through the challenges and create an effective training plan.
Remember that preventing littermate syndrome requires consistent effort and dedication. Providing individual attention, training, and socialization opportunities will go a long way in ensuring that your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies develop into well-adjusted, independent dogs.
Keeping your CKCS busy is essential for effective training. It facilitates easier crate training, lessens destructive behaviors like chewing on shoes & furniture, eases teething discomfort, and provides a distraction from nipping or barking. It's best to have a toolkit of options on hand when training a puppy and then switching things up to keep things interesting.
This may seem like a big list, but it will likely take some trial and error to determine which methods will work for your puppy. Something they didn't love? Donate any stuff your puppy doesn't use or love to your neighborhood animal shelter so they can be given to puppies in need.
Here is the list of supplies we keep on hand::
CRATE TRAINING - Making the crate or pen somewhere your puppy likes to go is vital to crate training. It should be a safe area and provide some stimulation to cut down on boredom, barking, and whining. Feeding your puppy in the crate, while also offering stimulating treats, is one simple method to make that happen. Look for durable items that can be offered unattended when shopping for crate training items. Avoid anything that could choke your puppy (for example puzzle pieces or small toys), and never utilize rawhide (inside our outside of the crate). Here are our best recommendations on Amazon:
GENERAL CHEWING – Dogs chew for various reasons, such as boredom and teething. Determining the cause of your dog's chewing may assist you in selecting the ideal toy or item to reduce or eliminate the need to chew personal items. Additionally, increasing activity and mental stimulation through training is always the greatest remedy if your dog is just bored. These are a few of our preferred options for cerebral stimulation and teething:
TRAINING TREATS – Training your puppy is fantastic because it stimulates the mind and helps control undesirable behaviors, but also strengthens the bond between you and the puppy. The secret to successful training is to determine a reward that's meaningful to your puppy. For most pups. that's treats. Many dog treats include unhealthy substances and other items that could hurt your puppy, so please only train with high quality (preferably single ingredient) treats.
Try several of these treats to find one your puppy truly appreciates. Here are some of our much-loved treats, but don't be shy about trying other homemade goodies like deli meat, ground beef, etc.
Although the focus of this post has been on pups, we use every product here for our adult dogs too — we just size up on some Kong-style toys and don't cut the goodies in half! Best wishes on keeping your dog busy.
WANT TO LEARN MORE - See our other post related to this topic on WORKING FOR FOOD.
We like using the Kong to train and entertain puppies. Read more about Kongs and training here.
Some of our puppy owners are unsure of how to utilize the Kong and specifically pique a puppy's interest in playing with it. We also hope to avoid owners using the unhealthy options for Kong stuffing offered in pet stores.
Here are a few basic tips and recipes to get you started on Kong stuffing, and to give you the confidence to start developing your own recipes.
TIPS FOR BEGINNERS:
• Begin by using your pet's own food in the Kong. When the dog is hungry and eager to work for his or her food, provide the Kong BEFORE any meal. This aids with the puppy's conceptualization. You might want to start with high-quality kibble in the Kong if you feed soft food.
• Once your puppy has a basic understanding of the idea of struggling to retrieve his or her food from the Kong, make it more challenging by inserting an edible plug for them to figure out before getting the food. Depending on the size of your Kong, you might want to try a blueberry, some peanut butter, some cheese, or even a reward that you can shape, like Little Jacks Dog Training Treats.
• Once your puppy has mastered the fundamentals of a Kong, you may start getting more inventive. Use the following to maintain your dog's interest:
These are only a few suggestions to assist you in Kong stuffing. Don't be scared to try out several recipes to identify a few personal favorites for your CKCS. Just be mindful of the extra calories and sugar, and think about giving your dog's stuffed Kong when ensuring they have a balanced diet.
Have a preferred Kong recipe? Please share it with us in the comments!
If you're having trouble with crate training, dealing with an overactive pup, or simply trying to alleviate puppy boredom, this blog post is a must-read!
Keeping dogs mentally stimulated is a key to their overall well-being and trainability, and making them work for food is an easy way to provide this stimulation! By replacing the traditional food bowl and introducing food dispensing toys, you can give your puppy a fun and engaging challenge. This approach is especially helpful for fast eaters, puppies with separation anxiety, and those who need in-crate entertainment.
Oh, and these are fantastic for retreating to your room in peace for a long enough period of time if you haven't had any "intimate time" since getting your dog… (sorry, it had to be mentioned).
EASY AMUSEMENT: SNUFFLE MATS & SLOW FEEDERS
Snuffle mats are common tools used by breeders to facilitate weaning and playtime for puppies. Work up to serving a full dinner by beginning by concealing some top-value treats in this mat. High-quality kibble can be placed on the mat to limit your dog's eating, keep them occupied in a crate or pen and teach your puppy or dog to hunt for food. The majority of LierChonPoo dogs & puppies have experienced one of these possibilities:
Small Snuffle Mat: This mat is portable and reasonably priced. Both puppies and adults can use it.
Medium Snuffle and Play Mat: We adore this medium mat since it has several areas to hide meals and treats for larger breeds, households with multiple little dogs, or an entire litter. We also appreciate the simple washing and suggest doing so once a week.
Slow feeders: Although similar to snuffle mats, slow feeders are intended to slow down a rapid eater and do not provide the same stimulation level. You can maximize the slow feeder's fun value by combining your kibble with top-quality wet food that takes a lot longer to consume when distributed on the feeder's walls.
LEVEL 2: SNOOPS
Snoops are marketed as an interactive treat dispensers, but we frequently use them as bowls to feed & occupy puppies by filling them with a combination of kibble and other food. Due to their simpler manipulation by the puppy, we start snoops before feeding in Kongs. You can buy the smiley face insert to make it more challenging, but we've found it's simpler to stuff food and bulkier parts into the hole to increase the difficulty. To introduce these, we will combine a little kibble with a few high-value treats. Once the dog is familiar, we'll switch out the rewards for chunkier bits of cooked chicken or jerky that are harder to get to. The difficulty can be raised by filling the Hole in the bottom with treats or kibble or adding items like peanut butter or plain yogurt inside. We appreciate that Snoops are covered in mint oil to help keep breath fresh and that they can be put in the dishwasher on the top rack. Our young dogs will play with these for twenty to thirty minutes, providing us with times as we tidy up around them, run errands, etc.
Level 3: KONGS
Possibly the Kong is the most well-liked "work for food" toy available. In order to keep pups clean & stuff, you should start them off with the little binkie Kong and purchase the multi-pack. Go up to the medium as your puppy develops and matures (or to feed complete meals). We have written a full blog post HERE about stuffing the Kong from the simplest to the most complex. We will reiterate that the Kong is an excellent tool for rewarding and entertaining puppies in crates, as well as for making them work for their food.
Level 4: PUZZLES & INTERACTIVE TOYS
It is uncommon for us to serve an entire meal in one of theses toys or puzzles, but it is possible if you give your dog a high-calorie kibble like PawTree.
Although our dogs love the Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy & the Tug-A-Jug, we utilize them sparingly because they can be challenging to clean and are truly only appropriate for kibble or treats. Depending on how the dog learns to give the treats, they may also be noisy.
Again, if you use these frequently, ensure you only use top-quality treats with one component and account for these calories to prevent your puppy or dog from becoming overweight.
Puzzle Toys are entertaining as well, but with certain cautions. With these kinds of toys, you MUST watch over dogs & puppies because the majority of them feature bits that, if handled carelessly, can be chewed and even eaten. They can be challenging to clean as well.
Lick Mats: Our pups and dogs also love these well-liked lick mats. Typically, we only use these on occasions when we want to treat and amuse the dogs for a while. If you're going to use these mats effectively, you must discover a mixture to distribute on the mat that is nutritious and tempting to your dog. Various ideas are covered in the Kong stuffing section also apply here.
For our dogs, we take it a step further and store these fully prepared in the freezer: natural peanut butter combined with plain greek yogurt, pureed pumpkin mixed with peanut butter or yogurt, Ollie dog food spread & re-frozen, or Ollie mixed with yogurt.
We hope you found this post helpful and will let us know what is effective and what doesn't.
Remember that any toy or bowl that doesn't support your pet's entertainment can be donated to your neighborhood shelter for a needy dog, so trying new things is never a waste. Please also check out our post on keeping your pup occupied!
We were thrilled to discover that Brandon - star of the show Lucky Dog and author of Lucky Dog Sessions: Train Your Pooches in 7 Days, now teaches his own dog-training class on MasterClass. If you're unaware of MasterClass, it's a fantastic service where you can take courses on various subjects. Serena Williams taught us how to play tennis, and Gordon Ramsey taught us how to cook. Both classes were excellent, but the opportunity to witness Brandon McMillan teach his dogs LIVE was fantastic. Brandon explains his straightforward and efficient training method to help you build confidence and control with your dog in fifteen video lessons that last about three hours together.
MasterClass has a 30-day money-back policy and charges $15 per month. We simply can't suggest this enough for all new puppy owners wondering how to raise the ideal companion. If you decide to give it a shot, we'd love to hear your thoughts.
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