Watch Maymo save his sister Penny from a toy snake attack! 🙂 When Penny found the motorized snake, she was apprehensive and quite scared of it but no worries, her brother Maymo saves the day.
When raising pups, getting siblings appears to be ideal. They could stimulate each other and keep themselves company, hopefully alleviating any separation anxiety. They could also imitate the good characteristics of each other and do everything together. What could go wrong? A lot, it turns out.
Many dog behaviorists, trainers, breeders and shelters discourage adopting and raising sibling dogs. The puppies come to count only on each other and it weakens both of them to the extent that they become withdrawn from everything other than themselves. They often bark when left at home or if someone comes in the door. They may become too mindful to anything that may be invading their territory. Normally it is merely one of the dogs starting this behavior while the other one joins in acting as a mimic.
Aggression in dog siblings is to be expected as they approach both physical and social maturity. Fights and squabbles may regularly break out where they cannot stand the sight of each other. Even though dogs live as members of the human family as pets, they are pack animals with behaviors and a social hierarchy very similar to wolves. One of the dogs in your “pack” is more assertive than the other because this pup has assumed a leadership role; the Alpha dog. The more submissive one has taken the role of follower.
This is how dogs naturally organize themselves. Fights are likely sparked when the Alpha sees or believes that the other dog is getting more resources and attention.
If you do decide to adopt siblings or you’re raising them now but not sure how to deal with all the fighting, it is important to think like a dog. Dogs aren’t “human children” with the same structure of equality that we have developed in the modern world; they are members of a canine pack with a social structure that is leader-follower based. The next time your dogs greet you, acknowledge the Alpha first. Feed him first, let him play first and let him enter a room first. Don’t feel bad about the others because they know and understand their position in the pack. This will minimize fights to a great extent.