What To Do When Your Puppies Have Littermate Syndrome 

What Is It, How To Address It, And Why It’s Not The End Of The World.

There’s nothing quite like bringing a new puppy into your household - except maybe bringing in two puppies! That’s definitely a line you’ll hear from someone who’s trying to convince you to purchase a second dog.

On paper it seems like an excellent idea! After all it can be a scary transition for a pup to go from their mom and littermates to a new household with new sights, smells, and people too. 

Having one of their siblings by their side can help them feel more comfortable during this big change, right? 

These owners believe the dogs will be able to entertain one another while you and the family aren’t around. 

You already have to purchase toys and water bowls and leashes, so it's not such a huge deal to double up on some of these items.

Unfortunately, we have to break it to you that while it sounds good in theory, adopting two puppies from the same litter can present some unique behavioral and training problems in your dogs as they grow.

These issues are known as Littermate Syndrome. 

Littermate Syndrome is when the puppies have bonded so closely together it actually impedes their individual ability to learn about the nuances of human and canine interaction and grow into independent mature dogs. 

As littermate syndrome dogs grow they don’t see the world properly and are unable to cope with new stimuli and stressful situations.

Many dog professionals from trainers to shelters and breeders are actively discouraging new pet owners from adopting siblings and some are refusing to place siblings in the same home for this very reason.

What is Littermate Syndrome?

As described above, Littermate Syndrome (also known as littermate aggression or sibling syndrome)  is when siblings from the same litter bond so closely that it makes bonding with their humans and other animals much harder. 

When puppies have littermate syndrome they often become fearful around other humans and dogs. If you separate two sibling dogs with littermate syndrome they’ll grow anxious or even aggressive. 

This is due to the hyper-attachment they’ve formed with each other.

Littermate syndrome makes training dogs so difficult because they don’t respond positively to anyone other than their sibling,

As a behavioral issue littermate syndrome can vary in severity. 

There is no guarantee sibling dogs in the same household will exhibit signs of littermate syndrome, but there is definitely a risk if precautions aren’t taken.

If you do end up adopting multiple littermates, be on the lookout for any signs of it developing so you can address them immediately. 

It’s one of the more serious behavioral issues and can affect both your dogs for their entire lifespan. If not managed, littermate syndrome can lead to needing to rehome one or both of your dogs so they can receive the proper care and attention.

Signs of Littermate Syndrome

The following behaviors are signs that your dogs may be developing littermate syndrome:

Codependency

Codependency is when dogs react to new stimuli or stresses by growing difficult or avoidant in their presence. Codependency in dogs is dangerous because if one of the siblings passes away the surviving dog is emotionally devastated and can’t properly cope.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can really affect your dog’s emotional state. On the more severe end it can prevent them from going anyway by themselves without having a breakdown.

Fear Of People & Dogs

Because dogs with littermate syndrome are codependent it prevents them from exploring the world and engaging with new situations and stimuli. When they begin to encounter new people and dogs it can trigger fear within them.

Poor Social Skills

Puppies with littermate syndrome spend so much time with each other they don’t learn how to interact with other dogs. They often communicate in their own language and it prevents them from becoming friends with other dogs.

Usually in these pairings one of the dogs is dominant and the other is submissive. When you put the dominant of the two in a group of other dogs at a dog park it can become a dangerous situation fast.

The sooner you can begin socializing your dogs to play nice with others the better.

Difficulty To Train

Training one puppy by itself can be challenging, training two with codependency is even harder. They already have short attention spans and having a sibling there can provide for an even bigger distraction. 

Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalries among dogs with littermate syndrome isn’t common, but it does occur. When dogs are young the rivalry seems cute and harmless but as they get older it can become quite serious for both dogs. In these cases owners will have to separate the pair sometimes in different homes to protect the submissive sibling. 

If your puppies are showing signs of littermate syndrome there’s a lot you can do to lessen its effects and improve their behavior over time with training techniques.

As soon as you bring your puppies home, you can begin taking preventative measures against littermate syndrome. 

Early Warning Signs Of Littermate Syndrome

If your dogs are showing you any of the above behaviors, it’s likely they have developed littermate syndrome. 

From here it’s not impossible to change their behaviors, but it is much easier to prevent codependency from forming even before it starts.

Here are some early warning signs that your dogs might be forming a hyper-attachment. 

Remember, this is for dogs who are 3-6 months old.

Seeking comfort together when facing new people and dogs.

If they avoid situations with new people or dogs and stay within close contact with one another. This is an early warning sign of codependency.

Distress when separated.

If your dogs whimper, whine, pace around, and otherwise show signs of stress. This is indicative of separate anxiety forming.

Difficulty learning basic commands.

If they fail to learn basic commands like sit, down, and stay. The hyper-attachment formed by littermate syndrome dogs makes it hard to focus them during training sessions thus their ability to learn is impaired.

Fighting Between siblings

If the siblings fight frequently and begin to show signs of an imbalanced power dynamic. This can lead to aggressiveness as your dogs grow if the power dynamic isn’t corrected.

Overall anything that doesn’t seem like normal puppy development should set your littermate syndrome radar off.

Addressing Littermate Syndrome In Your Puppies

If you have committed to raising siblings together, be prepared for the challenge. 

Raising one puppy can be difficult enough, and raising a second at the same time isn’t just twice as difficult, it’s closer to ten times as difficult. 

But if you are serious about it, and want to give both dogs the best chance possible at developing into mature independent dogs, then we will give you all the best techniques possible to ameliorate the effects of littermate syndrome.

The best thing you can do for your puppies is to separate them as much as possible throughout their daily routines.

This allows them to form attachments with other people and animals and decreases their reliance on one another. 

If you allow them to spend too much time together a hyper-attachment may form.

Alone, they will have no choice but to become independent, and with your guidance, competent and then confident as they grow in their puppyhood.

The ultimate goal is for your dogs to be able to live together and have a great dynamic between each other as well as with you and your family. It’s only by separating them for the time being that we can later reunite them as healthy independent canines.

Separating Your Puppies

Breaking down your daily routines to accommodate two puppies separately is a significant challenge. It’s best if you can enlist family members, friends, and dog professions to assist you throughout the challenge.

Separate Walks

Start walking your dogs separately. You can begin by walking them together but with different handlers. This allows you and the other handler to experiment with walking further apart and heading in different directions briefly. Watch how they react at different distances. If they react with anxiety, begin a training plan to ease them moving in and out of sight with each other. 

Over time this will acclimate your dogs into having independent experiences in the world without having the other to lean on. 

Socialize Separately

Work on socializing each dog on their own. Take them on outings to dog parks and public places. Expose them to as many stimuli and types of people as possible. Get them used to cars, trucks, adults, children, dogs, cats, birds, bikes, and the area around your home. This goes a long way to creating an independent dog later in life.

Separate Crates

Stop crating your dogs together! Get a second crate asap and start creating separation between your dogs. You can start by leaving the crate next to one another in order to ease any separate anxiety they may be experiencing, but as they get used to the separate kennels you can begin moving them further apart. 

Go slow and if they are experiencing too much anxiety, slow down your process. As they grow comfortable, progress to moving the crates to opposite sides of the same room and then to separate rooms in your home. 

While they are crated separately in the same room they’ll still be able to see, hear, and smell one another but they won’t be able to be in physical contact. This will decrease the codependency they are forming and begin to allow them to act independent.

Separate Training Sessions

Separating them at training time is of crucial importance because your puppies have to learn to look to you for direction instead of the other sibling. You want each of your dogs to feel the strongest bond with you instead of one another. If you are bringing your dogs to obedience classes it’s best to enroll them in separate sessions.

Separate Feeding

Start feeding your dogs separately. This means separate dishes for food and water. As you continue to work on their anxiety levels, move the dishes into separate rooms.

Remaining Apart At Home

Keep your dogs separated when you are all at home going about your daily business. They should be comfortable spending hours apart self-entertaining. Try to make their alone time as enjoyable as possible. Give them a toy like a Kong with a treat inside to keep them active and busy for a while.

This will distract them from thoughts of their sibling while they work for a tasty reward.

Stick To Your Plan

We did warn you that dealing with Littermate Syndrome was no easy task and it’s serious enough that it needs to be addressed immediately. It’s not just a simple behavioral issue, it’s your dog’s social development on the line.

The longer you wait in dealing with littermate syndrome the harder it is to reduce the attachments they’ve developed and allow them to socialize normally.

Every week that goes by makes it that much harder so please don’t delay in forming your plan.

Establishing Independence & Reuniting Your Dogs

As your dog's progress through their training they will begin to establish their own independent personalities. You should see major changes in each dog’s behavior from the time you began addressing their littermate syndrome. They shouldn’t feel anxious engaging in daily activities alone and should be comfortable not seeing their sibling throughout the day. 

It’s now time to reunite your dogs! 

You can start doing activities with both siblings together again. Take them on walks together, playdates, to the dog park! Remember to reward them for their good behavior when playing nicely together. Life with your puppies will be a breeze compared to the gauntlet of raising them separately.

Final Thoughts

Successfully raising two sibling dogs is quite a task. Life is already stressful enough without having to carefully manage your pet’s lives. If you’ve taken on this challenge kudos to you, you’ve proven yourself to be an incredible caretaker of your dogs and you’ve likely learned a ton in the process.

If you’re considering adopting siblings and this blog has changed your mind, that’s perfectly okay too. Many breeders won’t even place siblings together because most owners aren’t experienced enough to avoid the pitfalls of raising siblings. If you really have your heart set on owning two dogs right now, then it may be best to just adopt one and wait six months until you adopt the second. This will allow you enough time to properly socialize your first dog and avoid the littermate training protocol.

However, if you are planning to move forward with siblings then we hope this article has given you a starting framework to conduct your training. We’re here to provide you with further professional assistance in creating a happy home for you and your dogs.

Throughout the pandemic, many dogs in need have found their forever home, but creating a space where they can enjoy outside can be difficult if you live in an apartment. Apartment patios are a great space for pets to explore the outside world from the comfort of your home, and can even become a sanctuary for your furry friend. So whether you are looking to create a space for your dog in Denver, CO, or helping your pet adjust to their new home in San Diego, CA, here are apartment patio ideas for dogs, straight from the experts. 

Create a potty section with artificial turf

Artificial turf or even live sod on your balcony makes potty breaks in an apartment super easy, but keeping it smelling fresh can be a challenge in such a small space. We recommend cleaning your dog's balcony potty with a natural enzymatic cleaner that destroys odor safely from inside out. Make sure you avoid cleaners with added fragrances as they can overpower our dogs' sensitive noses. - Porch Potty

Dog-proof the railings to keep them safe

Safety is the number one important factor to keep in mind when preparing a balcony space for your dog. We recommend buying a set of sandbags in order to securely place a chew-proof leash away from the edge or railing. Pairing that with an outdoor bed and a small piece of turf to practice potty training is the perfect combination of safety, training, and comfort. - Crafty Canine Club

Add dog-safe greenery for your dog to enjoy 

Turn your balcony into doggy heaven by adding some greenery that your pooch can munch on! Chamomile, marigolds, basil, lemongrass, sprouts, rosemary, etc. are all excellent choices to bring some life to your concrete escape and provide your dog with something to sniff and add to chew on. Adding nutrition to their diet and possibly yours… if you like sharing with your pup. - Wild Child Dog Training

A few rules to go by when creating an apartment patio for your dog

When creating an outdoor patio for dogs there are a few rules to live by:

  1. Safety. Stay outside on the patio/balcony with your dog until they learn safety rules (no climbing over, squeezing through rails, or jumping after squirrels). Privacy fence panels are great ideas for the mischievous pup. Keep tables on the side furthest from the railing, even the most well-behaved pup may not be able to resist the urge to chase the wildlife.
  2. Bring a little nature in. Plants that make the area safe for your pup and beautiful for you are a necessity to bring nature to your balcony/patio. Daisies, azaleas, and daffodils are beautiful but toxic if ingested. Stick with sunflowers, marigolds, or camellia flowers to add pops of color. If you enjoy edible gardens, rosemary, dill, thyme, and more are safe for dogs and provide pleasant scents for you both. 
  3. Make a space just for them. A corner for them to enjoy the weather with their favorite bed, their favorite toy to keep them occupied, and never forget the water. Ceramic bowls are great for hot days to keep the water cool. - INN the Dog House 2

Keep your dog comfortable throughout the year

Create a comfortable space for your dog to catch some rays. We offer vet bedding designed to keep your dog cool in the summer and warm during chillier seasons. Lennypads will also make a great addition – they are highly absorbent, reusable potty pads perfect for a patio or balcony. Lastly, consider installing a dog door so they can go inside and outside as they please with your supervision. - Lakeside Products

Disguise Fido’s bowls as decorations

If you have a smaller space, your pup’s food and water bowls may be at risk of being knocked over. A plant pot with a heavy lid can easily be converted into a secure ‘cookie jar’ for your dog’s treats, and your pup’s water bowl can be placed inside an appropriately-sized planter or pot. This simple solution gives these items a secure base and adds a decorative touch to your patio or balcony. - Nature’s Advantage

Furnish your balcony with the basics

Mock fencing can be used along your patio to ensure that your dog does not fall through the balcony bars. Additionally, adding non-toxic plants to a potting bench, and a patio rug is a tasteful way to add dimension to your space. Turf can be added to a small area of the patio for an eco-friendly and reusable alternative to replace potty pads. - Alpha Instincts Dog Training

Create an area in the sun and the shade

If your balcony has sun and shade, create a resting spot for your dog in both areas. Some dogs love to lay in the sun, others don't, but many like to go back and forth. So make sure you have comfy spots for them in the sun and in the shade. - Zen Dog Training

Dedicate a space on the balcony just for your dog

You can start with a cute artsy-looking dog tent (covering almost half the balcony) that can really spruce up your balcony and also double-up as a fun and safe house for your dog. Put a comfy bed that stretches a little over the outside of the tent. Place a few colorful favorite toys to keep them active. Dress up the water bowl in a corner to match the tent. Place some safe plants like peppermint, rosemary, camellias, or anything your fur buddy likes or matches the artsy theme. Finish the setup with a dirt-free grass wee pad that absorbs urine & controls odors. While we focus on the theme, ensure to dog-proof (proper railing) the entire space. Can’t wait to chill with my mate on a lazy Sunday afternoon. - PawSpace

Add dog-safe plants that you can use too

One way to elevate your patio space while creating an enriching environment for your pets is through doggie-safe plants. Herbs like rosemary, parsley, oregano, and peppermint engage your dog's need to explore with their senses in a safe way while simultaneously beautifying your space with greenery. As an added bonus: you can use these herbs in everyday recipes, too. - Pampered Pet Resorts 

Try all-natural potty pads

No one wants unsightly plastic pee pads on their balcony for everyone to see. Try an all-natural dog potty pad made from real bark. The Bark Potty is like a dog park in a box, so the natural outdoorsy smells will compel your dog to "go," while keeping the rest of your balcony clean. - Bark Potty

Use an umbrella to add shade to the space

It is very important you have shade on your balcony on hot summer days. You can set up an umbrella to give a partial shade so your doggy can cool off when needed. You don’t want your dog barking at people and dogs passing by, so consider covering the street view if you think it might be an issue. Set up some plants which are dog friendly and maybe a small swimming pool if you have enough space for it. - K9 University Chicago

Create a doggy garden 

While there are many awesome ways to turn your apartment patio into a space your dog will love, our favorite idea is creating a doggy garden. Spruce up your balcony with a fenced-in area featuring artificial grass or hydroponically-grown grass. Then, add everything your pup needs to feel at home—a comfy doggy bed, some pet-friendly greens (sprouts are a great, healthy option), or even a portable dog pool if they can’t get enough of the water. - All Paws Express

Waterproof your balcony 

Your loyal companion is entitled to an outdoor space of their own— somewhere that’s safe and accommodating for sun naps and fresh air. Here are our favorite ideas to transform your balcony into a doggie haven; waterproof dog bed and furniture with washable covers, cooling turf, faux grass or disposable potty pads, upgraded water bowl, and most importantly: coverage for railing gaps that’s been approved by your building management. Gone are the days of Fido not living his best life. - Team Tapper

Designate an area for your dog to cool down

Dogs love to have that spot on the balcony to soak up the sun and then a place to hide from the sun when they need to cool down. Making a spot for sun and shade is perfect and this can happen with an umbrella or some kind of dog house or table where your pup can find a shady spot to move to. - Warren London

Add synthetic grass 

Give your dog a nice place to relax by using synthetic grass in your home’s outdoor living spaces. Not only does it feel cool and comfortable like conventional grass, but EnvyLawn grass also has anti-microbial additives keeping your furry family friend clean and safe. A perfect place to relax, do their business, take naps, and it looks great too. - EnvyLawn

Incorporate balcony furniture to keep your dog safe

A turf pee pad for preventing accidents would be the most appealing to the eye, blending well into a nice outdoor space. If the balcony has banisters, for safety it’s important that there is a blocking object to prevent them from trying to squeeze through. For this purpose, although chicken wire can be used, plants may be a more aesthetic way to achieve the same objective. It's also important that there aren’t any high objects which can be used as a platform to jump from. If you want to keep a bed outside, it’s best to use a tepee, as the pointed top will stop the most adventurous. - Hepper

Alabama Dog Training

Alpha Instincts Dog Training
(256)-482-6553

When it comes to potty training, while we do not directly address this in our program, we know all the tips & tricks to help you get started and help you avoid puppy pads completely!

1. Remove the Puppy Pads: If you are using these, they actually teach your dog that it is perfectly acceptable to go to the bathroom inside. By putting these pads on your floor for "potty needs", whenever they touch that similar flooring with their paws it creates an association in their brain that it is okay! This applies to how she feels about the kennel for the time being.

2. Potty Training Schedule: Your pup, at this age, needs to be taken out on a leash every 2-3 hours, around the clock for starters. As they get better, you can extend that to 3-4 hours. We do this on-leash because it shows the puppy there is a difference between "potty time" and "play-time", and they get less distracted.

3. Do not punish your puppy for accidents, they are still exploring the world and still learning. If you punish your dog, rub their nose in it, etc. they will just start to be sneakier or develop excitable or submissive peeing tendencies. If we keep an eye on them, accidents are less likely to happen because the body language they demonstrate is usually telling. If you notice a puppy starting to have an accident, pick up your puppy and take them immediately outside, and reward them heavily for finishing outside with food from their meal. Consistency is key!

4. Kenneling is absolutely necessary. A kennel should only be big enough for them to walk in, turn around, and lie down. Any extra room/space will give them the ability to create a "potty corner". Dogs should be kenneled whenever you are unable to pay attention to them, overnight, and whenever you're not home. This will help with accidents, as young dogs are no different than toddlers! If we do not watch them, they're bound to do something they are not supposed to! If kenneling isn't an option for you, you can attach a leash to your belt and keep a close eye on your puppy at all times!

Alabama Dog Training

Alpha Instincts Dog Training
(256)-482-6553

Alabama, the Yellowhammer State, is a fantastic area to visit, with many breathtakingly gorgeous cities, villages, and sights to see! Here is a selection of 15 stunning images of this magnificent state. Enjoy these top Alabama tourist attractions:

Huntsville Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens in Huntsville provide visitors a tranquil setting in which to relax and unwind.

Visitors can stroll around the flower displays, forests, and wildflowers.

Make a point of visiting the Garden of Hope, which is devoted to cancer sufferers and their families.

Cheaha State Park

Cheaha State Park is located in the counties of Cleburne and Clay.

The park is truly breathtaking and brimming with natural beauty.

Talladega National Forest, which boasts Alabama's highest peak, surrounds the park.

Chewacla Falls

Chewacla Falls is located in Chewacla State Park and is a great place for a family outing.

The park's centerpiece is Chewacla Lake, which offers a variety of activities such as fishing, swimming, and boating.

Mobile's Downtown

Mobile, Alabama, is a lovely city in Mobile County. It is densely packed with art museums and other performing arts venues.

The city is well-known for hosting the country's oldest carnival.

Florence, AL

Florence, Alabama, has a population of about 40,000 people and is located in the northwest region of the state.

This small town is well-known for the tourism events that it hosts each year. Every year, visitors rush to this town to enjoy the W.C Handy Music Festival.

Fort Payne Depot Museum is located in Fort Payne, Alabama.

Fort Payne was built in 1891, at a period of high mining activity in the town.

The structure is now a museum containing various Native American artifacts.

The edifice is a sight to behold, especially the round tower that rests in one of its corners.

Gulf Beaches

The Gulf Shores of Alabama are a great area for relaxation, enjoyment, and adventure.

With white-sand beaches and breathtaking sunsets, you'll never want to leave.

The sand is composed of quartz grains that have been washed down from the Appalachian Mountains over thousands of years.

Martin's Lake

Lake Marin is a massive 44,000-acre lake. It has a shoreline that is over 750 kilometers long and is densely forested. The lake is a reservoir created by the construction of the Martin Dam.

People who wish to camp, water ski, or go boating flock to the area.

Birmingham, Alabama's Magic City historical structure

Shades Creek's historic mill was built in 1926. The mill had fallen into disrepair by the year 2,000.

Mike Franklin and John Parker erected a new wheel, which has transformed the facility into what it is now.

Perdido Bay

Perdido Bay is a coastal lagoon with barrier islands and an entrance located near the mouth of the Perdido River.

A barrier system used to restrict tidal flow can be found near the pass's entrance.

Alabama's Wetumpka

This bridge, which was erected as a Federal Aid Project in 1927, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

In 1989, the bridge was modified to support only one line of traffic, and in 1991, the bridge was closed to traffic and a new one was constructed alongside it.

Alabama Dog Training

Alpha Instincts Dog Training
(256)-482-6553

Getting a new puppy really does mix things up a bit!  So I thought I would share a few Puppy Dog Training TIPS for all you puppy owners out there:

  • Puppies take lots of time and effort (be prepared for these little bundles of fluff to rule your life for a little while) but they are so worth all the effort!
  • Consistent training is the key to success and it is never too early to start training your puppy
  • Keep the training sessions SHORT (10 mins x 4 times per day is plenty)- Quality is better than quantity
  • Reward & focus on the positive behavior
  • Watch them ALL THE TIME, puppies are inquisitive and are into everything!
  • PATIENCE, PATIENCE and more patience
  • Establish a routine early on that works for you and your puppy- please remember all puppies are different (more on that below!)
  • Avoid fearful experiences and situations, it is all about positive happy moments
  • Socialize your puppy in a safe manner
  • Introduce your puppy to new sights, sounds and smells- make those positive associations (always have your treats to hand to give a super reward)
  • Find a local Veterinarian- we have so many fantastic ones in the Valley, we really are spoilt for choice
  • Take your Puppy to Puppy class- your pup will get to meet other puppies and learn some good manners!
  • Puppy Socialization class/puppy training
  • Puppy proof your house- remove accessible food, cables, shoes, anything that could be chewed or injure your puppy should be removed. AGAIN- puppies are into EVERYTHING

Woof you be mine?

February 13th 2021, 12:00PM
Owners & Dogs are encouraged to wear Pinks, Reds, & Purples to help spread the love on this pack walk!
Location: Railroad Bed Trail, Huntsville, AL
Our trainers will be following our company's policy regarding COVID-19 protocols and wearing masks. As this is a group event, we ask for those in attendance to regard the health & safety of others, so that we may enjoy this time with one another!


By migrating together in an extremely structured environment, you can teach your dog to follow you as a leader, using tools, body language and energy.
Your dog's behavior & social skills will improve by being around other dogs (in a pack) in a safe & structured environment.

This is not a meet & greet or dog park social experience!

Creating a safe environment (for humans & dogs) is our first priority. Our goal is to provide a positive experience for everyone!
Reactive dogs are welcome, but all dogs attending must be under control at all times.

All dogs in attendance are required to wear properly-fitted leashes and collars:
- 4-6 Foot leash (non-retractable)
- Properly fitted SLIP LEASH
or E-Collar and/or Prong Collar
- Limit to one dog per handler

Dogs that have bitten other dogs or humans are not allowed to attend unless they have completed training with Alpha Instincts Dog Training, are muzzle-conditioned, and are on a properly-fitted prong and/or e-collar.

This is Atomic.

All the pages you see here are built with the sections & elements included with Atomic. Import any page or this entire site to your own Oxygen installation in one click.
GET OXYGEN
© Copyright 2021 Alpha Instincts, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | 256-464-1352
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram