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Tuesday Training Byte: Sibling syndrome

As I have posted previously, there are serious and lasting problems associated with getting a pup that is taken away from mom and litter mates prior to age 8 weeks. Another related issue is sibling syndrome. This can happen when you adopt a pair of litter mates or when a pup stays too long with mom or siblings. The result is that the pup can end up bonding with another dog but not the owner. If you get a pup around 12-20 weeks that has not really been separated or socialized you may need to contact a trainer to help. Breeders will sometimes keep back two pups with the later intent of showing them or using them to breed (not to one another). However, breeders usually work with the dogs separately and each has their own kennel, bed, dishes, etc. It is a lot of work to adopt two at the same time. When this happens they have separation anxiety when away from the other dog, fearful, not wanting to play or eat. They tend to ignore the owner. If this is the situation you are facing, be sure to set up indoor training games that are fun with only you and that dog. Also, try to make it a place where the dog cannot run from you and hide under a bed or behind the couch. The dog may be fearful or lack confidence absent its K-9 buddy, so teach an activity that requires your help so the pup can learn to trust you and bond. An example would be climbing up on a footstool where the dog may need your encouragement and assistance at first. Once the dog is successful, try it again praising profusely. Another would be teaching the pup to crawl under your knees. You can lure the pup and guide him gently into position. I like to teach my pup to use her nose to bump the crate door open while I say Open! Of course at first I will help her do it until she can do it confidently herself. Soon your dog will look to you when scary things worry him, rather than hide or cling to the other pup.


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