How to Stop Sibling Puppy Fights

Puppies from the same litter may develop sibling rivalry.
Puppies from the same litter may develop sibling rivalry. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Buying sibling puppies may seem like a great idea at first; the pups may play together and keep each other company when left alone. However, the puppies may eventually end up fighting, a phenomena known as ''sibling rivalry.'' For this reason, most reputable breeders will not allow potential buyers to go home with pups from the litter.

Sibling rivalry may not be seen right away, but can occur when both dogs reach social maturity and learn about dominance hierarchy. If re-homing one of the pups is out of question, you can employ strategies to reduce sibling rivalry.

Things You'll Need

  • Collars
  • Leashes
  • Crates
  • Food Bowls

Learn how to establish yourself as a strong leader and avoid letting either puppy see himself as dominant over you. One way is to teach your puppies that you do not allow fighting; when they start, order a "down" when both puppies must ignore each other and focus instead on you.

Determine which of the puppies is dominant over the other, suggests Stan Rawlinson, a dog behaviorist and obedience trainer; always pet, feed, treat, and let out the dominant puppy first. A dominant puppy is the one more likely to bully or pick a fight when the subordinate puppy received preferential treatment. Owners often have a hard time understanding the hierarchical structures of dog packs and may feel compelled to treat the puppies as equal, but do to so only exacerbates the rivalry.

Invest in two collars, two leashes, two crates and two food bowls. In order to allow the puppies to bloom into two separated entities you must walk, feed, crate and play with the puppies separately as much as possible.You want to prevent their total reliance on each other and raise well-rounded, non-aggressive or fearful individuals, according to Rawlinson.

Find a professional dog trainer that understands the inherent difficulties of sibling rivalry; enroll the puppies in separate classes on different nights. Try to bond them to you more than to each other by working with them separately in this way, and whenever you practice their training.

Follow these guidelines until the puppies reach the age of 12 to 14 months, by which time they will have reached an equilibrium in their relationship. They will be more confident than sibling puppies that are kept together constantly, and they also will fight less because you have established and maintained the hierarchy and are acting as the leader of the pack.

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