What Is Littermate Syndrome? How To Stop and Deal with It


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You had been so thrilled to get two cute puppies from the identical litter.

However now they’re starting to have some habits issues. So that you marvel what occurred.

Otherwise you’re eager about getting two younger puppies on the similar time and marvel if it’s advisable. 

Golden Retriever littermates in a box. Do they have littermate syndrome?

On this article, I’ll describe what littermate syndrome is and what you are able to do to forestall or handle it.

What Is Littermate Syndrome?

Littermate syndrome describes what happens when two puppies who’re raised collectively bond an excessive amount of to one another. This will likely sound nice at first, however it isn’t. 

They’ll bond to one another greater than they bond with you. 

As a result of the puppies bond so significantly with one another, they turn into so depending on one another that, when separated, they expertise excessive stress and nervousness.

The 2 puppies don’t should be from the identical litter. Littermate syndrome can even happen should you get two puppies which might be close to in age, corresponding to inside about six months of one another.

Though littermate syndrome doesn’t all the time happen, it might. 

Behavioral Points that Might Develop Due to Littermate Syndrome

As a result of two puppies with littermate syndrome over-bond, they don’t undergo regular puppyhood improvement phases and will have behavioral issues

Puppies experiencing littermate syndrome typically lack social abilities as a result of an proprietor could consider that they’re enjoying and dwelling collectively is the one socialization they want. Nothing could possibly be farther from the reality. 

Every must develop as a person to flourish. Puppies with littermate syndrome could undergo from the next behavioral issues:

  • Concern of individuals and different canines, which might probably result in aggression
  • Excessive separation nervousness
  • Crating points
  • Points when encountering new conditions when with out the opposite pet
  • Leash reactivity
  • A better incidence of the 2 puppies preventing as in comparison with non-siblings being raised collectively

The problems typically aren’t skilled straight away. They develop over time and may intensify when the puppies attain social maturity.

Begin every pet out on the best paw.

Indicators {that a} Pet is Anxious or Confused

There are various indicators {that a} pet is confused. These embody:

  • Yawning when not drained
  • Vocalization (whining, barking, howling, whimpering)
  • Resisting getting into the crate if already crate educated
  • Panicking and attempting to succeed in the opposite pet
  • Salivating and drooling
  • Panting
  • Lip licking
  • Trembling and shivering
  • Fidgeting or pacing
  • Tense physique language
  • Chewing or licking self
  • Vomiting
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation’
  • Diarrhea
  • Damaging habits

How To Stop Littermate Syndrome

One of the simplest ways to forestall littermate syndrome is to not get two puppies on the similar time. 

Littermate syndrome could happen should you get two puppies from the identical litter. However it might additionally happen should you get two puppies inside about six months or extra of one another.

It’s arduous sufficient to lift one pet due to their many wants, which embody home coaching, crate coaching, train, obedience coaching, and socialization.

So assume lengthy and arduous earlier than deciding to get two younger puppies collectively. 

After I obtained my sheltie pet Amber from an amazing breeder, my husband wished to get one other pet from the identical litter. In any case, they had been cute. 

However cooler heads prevailed and we solely went dwelling with Amber. 

The breeder knew how tough elevating two puppies is. And I additionally knew the potential issues that might develop and the huge quantity of labor it might be to efficiently increase two puppies.

Typically, good, conscientious breeders, rescues, and shelters gained’t undertake two younger puppies out collectively to keep away from littermate syndrome.

How To Handle Littermate Syndrome

If you have already got two younger puppies, there are measures you possibly can take to make the state of affairs work. However I gained’t child you, it’ll take loads of dedication in your half. 

You want for every pet to trust when separated from the opposite and that nice issues occur once they’re aside. Progressively get them used to being unbiased. 

And also you additionally want to show them to have good habits once they’re collectively. 

Some puppies expertise littermate syndrome higher than others. Usually one of many two puppies experiences extra stress and nervousness than the opposite does.

To assist keep away from or handle littermate syndrome, you are able to do the next:

Crate every individually. 

It’s necessary to not crate them in the identical crate. As cute as they might look collectively, being collectively too typically will simply promote littermate syndrome to happen.

Begin with crates subsequent to one another, transferring them aside over time. 

It might take days and even weeks to maneuver the crates to reverse ends of a room and finally into separate rooms.

At first simply transfer them inches aside, then additional and additional aside over days or even weeks with out stressing the puppies.

Set them up to reach their crates. 

Train every pet earlier than getting into his crate in order that he’s much less more likely to be troubled. And make the person crates an amazing place to be.

Put a frozen stuffed Kong that every will get solely when he’s within the crate. Prepare every to like being alone in his crate.

Plan separate time alone with you. 

Take every pet in an space of your own home away from the opposite pup. Make it a celebration to be with you and away from the opposite pet.

Play video games with particular toys. Give him particular treats. Have him fetch and play tug. You need every pet to see that you’re a lot of enjoyable to be with–much more enjoyable than being along with his brother or sister. 

You additionally need to have some calm time with you. After the pet’s had a ample quantity of train, have him calm down with you. Pet him and gently therapeutic massage his again. Reward and reward calm habits.

PRO-TRAINER TIP: Have a provide of nice, yummy treats that your pet can’t resist prepared as a reward. They need to be small, no bigger than a pea. All the time have your reward treats prepared earlier than giving your obedience cue. Utilizing a particular deal with corresponding to small items of cheese or boiled, deboned hen may help a canine have a constructive affiliation with one thing.

Plan separate outings with every pet.

Be sure that every pet is taken out on walks and to new locations to socialize and train them individually.

Generally take every completely individually the place the opposite isn’t even conscious of his sibling’s journey. 

Have them greet new individuals and pleasant canines when alone. You can provide the individuals particular, high-value treats that you just present for them to provide to the pup. It’s necessary that every sees individuals as welcoming beings. 

On some outings, take the puppies along with separate handlers, finally separating and taking totally different routes from one another. 

In fact, you possibly can stroll them collectively generally and take them locations collectively often. However on most outings, take them individually.

Get them used to a automobile trip individually. 

Every must study to like to journey alone. In the event that they’re all the time taken collectively, they might have automobile nervousness once they’re aside.

Prepare them individually. 

Educate every pet all necessary coaching instructions throughout classes once they’re aside. Every ought to study to concentrate, stroll on a free leash, come reliably, sit, down, keep, go away it, and drop it. 

After every has realized these habits cues individually, you are able to do some coaching classes with the puppies collectively. However nonetheless proceed to do some every day coaching classes once they’re aside.

Feed them individually. 

You need them to be unbiased and never attempt to take one another’s meals–or probably guard their meals as they enter social maturity. And have a feeding schedule.

Home practice every individually. 

Take every out individually when educating them to potty. In any other case, they might study to go to the toilet solely when the opposite is current.

And that may result in avoidable accidents as a result of they might want to go to the toilet even when separated. 

Groom every individually. 

Getting a pet used to dealing with and grooming is necessary. However with two puppies, you need every to trust and settle for–and even get pleasure from–being groomed once they’re aside. 

Have a routine schedule. 

Canines are creatures of behavior and do properly with a schedule. So plan their feeding, crating, train, socialization, and coaching. This can assist every canine trust in his world.

Use holistic aids. 

For something they’ll ingest, first test together with your vet if it’s alright for them to take the help. There are various holistic aids that you should utilize to assist a canine really feel much less nervousness.

There are calming tabs, CBD oil, and Rescue Treatment

There’s additionally a product known as Adaptil, which mimics a canine mom’s pheromones and is available in a collar, spray (for objects, not on the canine), and a plug-in for the house. You may as well strive the ThunderShirt, which is sort of a hug and, when launched correctly, may help alleviate a canine’s nervousness.

Play calming music. 

Calming sound may help reduce a canine’s nervousness. There’s even a product known as By way of a Canine’s Ear that was developed to assist alleviate a canine’s stress.

Stay calm. 

Canines learn our physique language, tone, and odor. So if we’re confused, they’ll feed off of that. I do know that it’s simpler stated than carried out if you see that your pet is anxious.

But when your physique language isn’t confused and you employ a peaceful tone of voice, it’ll assist your pup additionally stay serene.

Get skilled assist.

Littermate syndrome can result in some extreme behavioral points. I counsel that individuals get any help wanted sooner somewhat than later.

Should you’ve tried the above strategies and your puppies are nonetheless confused, get assist from a professional constructive reinforcement coach or behaviorist who has efficiently handled puppies with littermate syndrome.

Rehome one of many puppies. 

If the puppies aren’t making progress being aside, it’s typically finest to rehome one. I notice how tough this may be since you’re connected to each.

However, for their very own good and in order that they don’t develop behavioral points, it’s finest that they develop to their full potential aside.

What NOT To Do: Don’t Attempt This at Dwelling

There are particular actions that you just shouldn’t take when working via the littermate syndrome challenge. Doing so gained’t assist the difficulty–and will even do loads of hurt.

Don’t transfer too shortly in separating the puppies. 

In fact, you must make fixed progress. However pushing them too far too quick could make them anxious and panicked.

So, for instance, when separating their crates to totally different areas of your own home, transfer every aside slowly.

Don’t simply transfer a crate to a different room with out first transferring the crates aside over days or even weeks whereas in the identical room at first.

Don’t right them for his or her nervousness. 

If one or each appear confused, don’t right them verbally or bodily. Doing so will inevitably make the matter worse and may even result in different behavioral points–together with aggression.

Don’t power them to socialize with new environments, individuals, or canines. 

When taking every out individually, don’t power the pet to work together with new individuals or canines. And don’t power them into scary environments. 

One of many puppies could also be extra outgoing than the opposite. Socialize every at his personal tempo. You need them to know that the world away from one another is a constructive place that he needs to work together with.

And don’t take them to environments that may overwhelm them or be too irritating, corresponding to a loud avenue if that bothers them. You need your pup to see the world as a constructive place.


I’m eager about adopting two younger puppies? Ought to I? 

Typically not. They might develop littermate syndrome wherein they bond too carefully to one another. If this happens, they aren’t more likely to correctly bond with you or different canines or individuals.

And they’re going to develop behavioral points starting from stress, extreme separation nervousness, crating points, leash reactivity, and points when encountering new conditions.

It’s finest to get puppies not less than six months aside, the place you’ve educated one after which practice the opposite, after which practice them collectively. And get every used to being alone in separate crates and areas of your own home.

I’ve adopted two puppies, and so they continually cry once they’re aside. What ought to I do? 

You must slowly get them used to being aside. This implies coaching, pottying, crating, socializing, feeding, and strolling them individually nearly all of the time.

Additionally spend some enjoyable and enjoying with every individually. If the difficulty is extreme, get skilled assist from a behaviorist or constructive reinforcement coach who has expertise with littermate syndrome.

I’m getting a lab pet. The breeder has two puppies left and can give me a reduction on every if I take each. Ought to I get each puppies? 

No! They might develop littermate syndrome wherein they over-bond to one another and never bond sufficiently with you and others.

They might additionally develop many behavioral points corresponding to: fearfulness of recent individuals, animals, and conditions; extreme separation nervousness; and leash reactivity.

Additionally, analysis any breeder that you could be receive a canine from to make sure that they carry out really useful well being clearances on the breeding dad and mom and have expertise with the breed.

Closing Ideas

It’s finest to not get two puppies on the similar time. When two puppies of roughly the identical age are raised collectively, they might get littermate syndrome. 

Because of this they’ll turn into too bonded with one another and will not bond as properly with you as they in any other case would if alone. They’re additionally more likely to develop behavioral points that you’ll have to cope with. 

Have you ever ever gotten two puppies on the similar time?

If that’s the case, did they develop littermate syndrome?

What did you do about it and was it profitable?Please inform us about it within the feedback part under. 

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What Is Littermate Syndrome? - Two Golden Retriever puppies in a box.

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What Is Littermate Syndrome? How To Stop and Deal with It was final modified: March 14th, 2023 by Debbie DeSantis


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