So you are ready for a puppy, aren’t you? You have given this a lot of consideration. You moved from an apartment into a house with a good-sized yard and even reduced your hours at work to ensure that between your spouse and you, someone is always home with the dog you bring home. You have done all the Internet research on what breed is best for you and you have determined that the breed is not so important but rather the temperament of a dog that outranks breed. You have ensured that your backyard has ample running around room, there is nothing in the yard that can harm whomever you bring into your life and you purchased a bowl, a training color and a leash. Depending on the size of the dog you bring home, you have a crate in mind and can go larger or smaller as needed.
The appointed day arrives and the two of you walk into your local shelter. Samantha shows you around the facilities and is proud to declare it a no-kill shelter. This resonates with you both. You tell Samantha that you would like to see low to medium energy dog and age is not as important as temperament. One who comes from an abused home is not your first choice, but the two of you will definitely consider it. Good for you, you have done your homework.
Two For the Price of One!
When Samantha returns, she has with her several dogs. Some are mixed breeds of indiscernible heritage, one you look at and say, “I am a Doberman, Collie Mix” and a second you say, “Hmm, Labrador, Terrier of some kind.” Two are off by themselves playing and you potentially identify them as being Golden Retriever, Labrador and some kind of Shepherd you can’t quite place. “Are those two friends?” You ask.
“They’re sisters.” Answers Samantha. “They were living in wretched circumstances and they are inseparable. We really don’t want to have to separate them. I know you didn’t say you wanted sisters, but I thought if you saw them, you’d fall in love.” Your spouse and you look at each other. It wasn’t in the plans, but you can meet the two lovelies.
Lolita immediately comes to you, tail wagging, big happy grin, tongue is dangling to one side and clearly has a sweet disposition. She flops down at your feet, goes immediately into a submissive pose and as if almost to say, “Take me home”. She has stolen your heart.
Her sister, Dim Sum is an entirely different story. When you walk over to her, she pees on herself and cowers in the corner. Your wife reaches out to her and Dim Sum can’t fade further into the wall. “We believe they were abused. We aren’t certain, but Dim Sum shows all the signs of it. Lolita seems inured, if she were abused as well, we aren’t sure.” Samantha explains. You have seen enough to make at least talk things over with your wife. Having walked away, Lolita and Dim Sum continue playing. You look back and Dim Sum immediately sits down, without being commanded to do so and gets a serious look on her face. It doesn’t convey aggression, but rather just serious. You wish you could get inside and talk to her.
Although the two of you hadn’t thought about bringing home two dogs, you conclude that separating these two wouldn’t be fair to either of them. Dim Sum may require more patience to earn her trust, but you both agree that you are up to the challenge.
Preparing Your Home For Two Dogs
You tell Samantha that you would like to schedule a home visit and that you would potentially like both sisters. On the way home, you go to the pet store and buy identical everything and deciding that these two girls have the potential to be at least 50 pounds, you buy two large dog crates.
After passing the home inspection, references have been called and checked out, you get the call to please come pick up Dim Sum and Lolita. In the car, Dim Sum appears more dominant than Lolita; indeed Lolita even seems to be submissive to her sister. A few days later, you notice that although Dim Sum started out timid and fearful, she stays up at night, almost as if she is guarding your home. Also, she despises her crate. Reluctantly, she sleeps in it, because she has already proven herself to be obedient, but she has already let you know that she would rather not. Lolita took to her crate immediately and seeks it out, it seems.
Although they spend lots of time together and play together very well, Dim Sum has taken on characteristics of a dominant, slightly over-bearing sister. She takes to training well, but when communicating with her sister, it is clear that she runs things and Lolita is submissive. Lolita falls in rank and learns to be a 45-pound ‘lap dog’. But you are beginning to realize that they are two very different dogs.
On occasion Dim Sum is bossy toward Lolita and your wife and you aren’t entirely comfortable with this. Once Dim Sum snapped at Lolita. Your training sessions with Dim Sum find you being more stern with her. Lolita seems to go with the flow more. In fact, a few times you found yourself needing to put Dim Sum in a submissive position (on her back, belly exposed to you, hands and feet raised). When done correctly, this does not hurt your dog, but it takes practice. It is not recommended if you are at all comfortable doing this. Initially it will require both hands and eventually you may be able to do so with just one. It is a corrective technique meant to drive home the point that you are the pack leader and your dog is not.
One day your wife and you ask yourselves whether you may have bitten off more than you can chew adopting two dogs. Although a noble gesture on your parts, you are concerned that maybe you don’t have the expertise to deal with this. You search the Internet and learn something rather interesting.
All of the things that you have noticed are symptoms of what is known as Littermate Syndrome. What this article describes is how the realization creeps up on people. It is a gradual one and once it becomes obvious, dealing with it depends on the trainer you listen to, your patience level, your willingness to be diligent and a whole lot of luck.