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A puppy with problems

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behavior' started by Frisbee, Mar 23, 2016.

  1. Frisbee

    Frisbee New Member

    This one isn't for me. A friend got their first dogs, two Alsation puppies from a respectable breeder, and have had some real problems. I'll call the puppies Anne and Bob, not real names to protect owner and breeder's privacy. Anne was fine. She could be left alone in another room, go on walks with out Bob without worrying, and was very, very, calm. Bob wasn't. The only way I can think to describe it was clingy. If he was with Anne he behaved the same way as her, but if he was away from Anne, for example if she walked into another room, or if he was taken on a walk even still in visual distance but not right next to her, he became unmanageable and aggressive. My friend's husband couldn't manage the small puppy when he got in this state. The second he is back with Anne he calms down instantly.

    Trying slowly increasing distances didn't work, and he was at risk of hurting himself. The vet said Bob wasn't safe in a family with children, and the breeder has said she'll take them back (and guaranteed Bob will not be bred).

    I was asked for advice, and couldn't help. I've never seen a dog this dependent on another dog. Are there any puppy trainers who could give advice on how to manage this? Is it common, or are there ways to train it out of them?
  2. IcyFirefly

    IcyFirefly Member

    This is interesting as I too, have never heard of a dog depending so much on another dog. He must have separation anxiety and acting out. I am not a dog expert, but I think the owners should keep exercise the separation time continuously and regularly to break the habit. It may take weeks, or even months to do it but persistence will pay off.

    Are your friend considering giving the dog back to the breeder? If they have small children in the house, they should follow the vet's advice.
  3. Pogykt

    Pogykt New Member

    Most reputable breeders don't allow people to take two puppies for a very important reason- Littermate Syndrome. It's why people who train guide dogs train one puppy at a time. Nearly every single time they try to train two puppies together, littermate syndrome rears it's head and one puppy nearly always ends up unsuitable for guide work.

    What happens is that one or both puppies become entirely emotionally dependent on the other and become extremely distressed when they're separated. As a result, they won't bond with their human family. Eventually, it oftens ends in the two dogs fighting constantly when they reach maturity, and they have to be separated before one severely hurts the other. By that point, a lot of damage is done emotionally and mentally to the dogs.

    I suggest your friend give one of the puppies back to the breeder and make sure to get the dog they keep in training classes. It's nearly impossible to keep two puppies and stop littermate syndrome. The breeder should have never allowed a family to take two puppies in the first place.
  4. Frisbee

    Frisbee New Member

    I spoke to them last night and Bob is going back to the breeder tomorrow, when they have the day off. There are children in the house, so they aren't taking a chance. They haven't had him long and he is still a puppy, so hopefully an experienced dog handler can correct him before there is permanent damage or behavioural issues. They're going to try and keep Anne because she isn't dependent on Bob, happily goes on walks without him, and loves people.

    @Pogykt Thank you for giving a name to it. I wasn't aware this existed, but thinking back I have always adopted adults or one puppy at a time, never two puppies. It can't happen all the time, as I know a collie owner who raised two together that were fine, but I guess there are always exceptions. I think he might have had other adult dogs as well, which might have been what made the difference.

    Do you know any other cases, or if there are ways to correct it? Can adult dogs in the house affect it?
  5. Pogykt

    Pogykt New Member

    @Frisbee It's definitely different when there's adult dogs around. Adults dogs will teach puppies manners and correct their behavior, as is typical in the wild. But two puppies, alone, will bond closely with each other and block out their human family and never learn manners or good behavior.

    AFAIK, there is no way to correct it except for now separating the puppies and trying to heal the damage done. Adult dogs in the house really would only work as a prevention when you get the puppies. There's nothing to be done for your friends dogs now, regrettably, except to separate them and give them a chance at better lives.
  6. Frisbee

    Frisbee New Member

    Well, I caught up with them at the weekend. It seems they took Bob back on the Friday bank holiday over a week ago and kept Anne. Anne's been absolutely fine ever since, she's still pleasant, friendly, and loves people. She was sitting by the park bench, quite happy and very tired after a long session of tennis-ball chasing.

    Bob is now back at the breeder with his parents. They haven't heard much since, although getting him there was apparently very difficult. From what they saw he became a lot more manageable the moment he was back with the older dogs, so hopefully they can correct him and whatever issue he has will be fixed so he can have a good life.
  7. xTinx

    xTinx Member

    I'm not an expert on dog training but it is indeed true that some dogs are more dependent than others, probably caused by a trauma they had in the past (i.e. beaten by previous owners or bullied by fellow dogs) or being taken away from their mother at such an early age, long before they could grasp the idea of independence. When I watched Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan often used his dog Daddy to help withdrawn and dependent dogs become more sociable. He exposed the dog to his other "balanced" dogs until it become more self-assured.

    Consulting expert advice or assistance would be the appropriate thing to do. A dog trainer will pay attention to little nuances and help your friend's dog open up to other dogs.
  8. Lisa Davis

    Lisa Davis Member

    I have heard of this type of behavior before, but perhaps not as extreme of a case. Usually, I was told that the calm dog is sort of an "Alpha Dog" figure so the other dog mimics their good behavior. However, when the other one isn't around to keep the dog in line, they just act out and don't know what to do with themselves. Perhaps this is an extreme case of this sort of cause.

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