Raising sibling puppies, often referred to as “littermates,” can be a rewarding experience filled with double the fun and affection. However, it can also present unique challenges, one of which is the occasional squabble or even full-blown fights between the siblings.
While some level of play and disagreement is natural, distinguishing between harmless play and problematic aggression is crucial. So, how to stop sibling puppies from fighting?
This article sheds light on the dynamics of sibling-puppy interactions and provides strategies to ensure a harmonious coexistence.
Why Do Sibling Puppies Fight So Much?
Sibling puppies often engage in play-fighting as a natural behavior to establish hierarchy, boundaries, and social skills. This mock combat helps them learn bite inhibition, strength control, and communication cues.
However, as they approach adolescence, hormonal changes, and developing personalities can intensify rivalries. If not addressed, these skirmishes can escalate into more serious fights. It’s essential to monitor their interactions, ensure equal attention, and intervene if play becomes too aggressive.
How To Stop Sibling Puppies From Fighting?
When sibling puppies engage in aggressive behavior towards each other, it’s often referred to as “littermate syndrome.” This syndrome can manifest as excessive fighting, fearfulness without the other’s presence, or difficulty training them individually. Here’s how you can address and prevent excessive fighting between sibling puppies:
1. Separate Training and Socialization
- Train each puppy individually. This ensures that each puppy learns to focus on you rather than being overly reliant on their sibling.
- Socialize them separately. Take them to different places, introduce them to various people, and expose them to different experiences independently.
2. Separate Living Spaces
- Consider providing separate crates or sleeping areas. This gives each puppy their own space and reduces the chances of resource guarding or territorial disputes.
- Feed them separately to prevent food aggression.
3. Establish Boundaries
- Set clear rules and boundaries for both puppies. Consistency is key, so ensure all family members are on board with the rules.
4. Intervene Early
- If you notice the play is getting too rough or escalating to aggression, intervene before it becomes a full-blown fight. A loud clap or verbal interruption like “Enough!” can be effective.
- After interrupting, redirect their attention to a positive activity, like a training session or toy.
5. Teach Basic Commands
- Teaching commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “leave it” can help you control and manage their behavior.
6. Provide Plenty of Physical and Mental Stimulation
- Ensure both puppies get enough exercise and mental stimulation. Bored puppies are more likely to engage in undesirable behaviors, including excessive play-fighting.
7. Rotate Toys and Resources
- To prevent resource guarding, rotate toys and chews so that each puppy gets a turn with different items.
8. Spend One-on-One Time
- Spend quality time with each puppy individually. This strengthens your bond with each one and reduces their over-reliance on each other.
9. Seek Professional Help
- If aggressive behavior continues or escalates, consider consulting a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.
10. Consider Rehoming
- In extreme cases, if the aggression is severe and poses a risk to the puppies or others, rehoming one of the puppies to a suitable home might be the best option. This is a difficult decision but may be necessary for the well-being of both dogs.
Remember, while some level of play-fighting and roughhousing is normal and beneficial for puppies, it’s essential to ensure it doesn’t escalate to aggressive or harmful levels. Consistent training, supervision, and early intervention can help manage and reduce excessive fighting between sibling puppies.
At What Age Do Puppies Stop Play Fighting?
Puppies begin fighting as early as a few weeks old, and while the intensity and frequency might decrease as they mature, many dogs continue this behavior into adulthood. Typically, by 6 to 9 months, as puppies transition into adolescence, the nature of their play might change and become more refined.
However, dogs of all ages can engage in play fighting, especially if they’re social and have compatible playmates. It’s a natural way for dogs to communicate, bond, and learn boundaries.
Preventing sibling puppies from fighting involves understanding their individual personalities, setting clear boundaries, and ensuring each pup gets individual attention and training.
Regularly separating them for short periods, conducting separate training sessions, and monitoring their play can help in curbing aggressive tendencies.
If conflicts escalate, intervention from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist might be necessary. With patience, consistency, and understanding, sibling puppies can grow into well-adjusted adults who share a strong, positive bond.
Also Read: How To Stop A Dog From Resource Guarding?