Litter Mate Syndrome – Don’t Get Two Puppies at Once

Litter Mate Syndrome – Don’t Get Two Puppies at Once

This is Ned. If you saw this without knowing anything about him, you might assume that he has been abused and is traumatised. But you’d be wrong. Ned and his sister Kelly have been in the same loving home since they were bought together as puppies and are now five months of age.

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There are a couple of reasons that Ned is so fearful (Kelly lacks confidence too but it isn’t as severe).

– There could be a genetic factor contributing to the timidity and making it worse. But we can’t know this one for sure.

– The dogs, and especially Ned, have not been socialised early in life (I have spoken about this in other posts and you can read more detail about it on the blog). More so with Ned as the owners could not get the lead on him to take him anywhere – When Ned gets his collar touched for a leash to go on he actually yelps. Not knowing how to solve this, Ned could not be taken anywhere. There was a great deal of difficulty and many attempts to just get him to the vet for his vaccinations.

– The owners bought the litter mates together – a major factor working against them

– The pups were adopted at 6 weeks which is a bit too early and could compound these issues.


Buying litter mates together is something that people often do with the best intentions. It seems like a win-win as the dogs can grow up together and keep each other company when you’re away. But it can cause a lot of issues too.

Litter mate syndrome comes about because the two siblings are so emotionally dependant on each other that their learning is inhibited. Signs include phobias of people and other dogs, fears of anything novel, intense anxiety when separated, difficulty learning even basic training skills and can lead to the two dogs fighting when they hit adolescence.

Litter mate syndrome makes it more difficult to bond with and train the dogs and actually hinders their learning severely. You will likely never see the true potential of each dog as an individual but will have two difficult to manage anxious dogs that are not mentally developed.

This can also occur with two pups raised together from different litters or different breeds.

For the most success, each dog should be raised and trained completely separate from the other, except for brief interactions, until they are over a year old. This is a difficult task and so it’s often best to rehome one of the dogs so that both can develop into confident individuals. While a difficult decision, this is likely the best outcome for both dogs involved.

Many people are not aware of the pitfalls of raising litter mates together so the owners kindly agreed to me writing this with Ned and Kelly as an example to raise awareness so please share and tag anyone who is considering getting two puppies at once.

Puppy Socialisation Checklist

Puppy Socialisation Checklist

In this simple whiteboard explainer video, I discuss what puppy socialisation is and why it is so important as well as HOW to do it correctly.

Socialising a puppy must be done in a safe, social and positive environment such as that generally provided at a puppy school.

I also did a Facebook Live video on puppy socialisation. Also, how do are you meant to socialise your pup when the vet says not to take them out before two weeks after their final vaccination? All this and more is covered in the live video below.

In the video I also mentioned a free checklist you can use for socialisation ideas. You can download it by entering your email below the videos:

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Little Dog Syndrome – Is Your Dog Spoiled?

Little Dog Syndrome – Is Your Dog Spoiled?

Would you like some spoiled milk ? Perhaps in your tea or coffee? Hot chocolate? No? I’m guessing not. Because we aren’t exactly celebrating when milk gets spoiled. So why do we grin and laugh when we say “Oh my baby is a spoiled dog?”.

Another trainer friend used this example when we were chatting on the phone one day and what can I say, I’m a thief. If I get a great analogy, I’ll use it.

So often people giggle as they say their dog is spoiled as it growls at guests or refuses to move off the furniture, barks and lunges at other dogs or even at people!

Or more often, people have no idea that the way that they show love to their dogs is causing big behaviour issues and of course they only mean well.

And I get it, it feels good to spoil our dogs. We want to give them the best. I know I do. But there’s a difference between giving our dogs the best toys, food and care and giving our dogs everything they demand on a silver platter. That’s when we see issues arise. When your dog has no boundaries and do whatever he likes…

Watch: Treat Your Small Dog Like A Dog

I see this all the time and I really do understand why little dogs get spoiled (sometimes big dogs do too!) In fact, I have made major errors by spoiling our own little dog. They just make it so easy!

But we need to try to stop because it’s actually not good for the dog. Coddling and lack of boundaries or rules can actually create anxiety and insecurity in the dog. Without a clear leader present, the dog can feel like the burden of being in charge falls to them. This can even result in aggression. And the majority of dogs don’t want this burden. Dogs feel a lot happier with a clear leader giving them guidance. And that leader is you.

So how can we start being a better leader if we perhaps have a dog that is already too spoiled?

If you haven’t seen my video series on five foundations to a well behaved dog yet, that is where I suggest you start. You can sign up for it here (it’s free).

Now could you do me a favour? If you know someone that would like some help with a naughty dog, perhaps that has been “spoiled,” could you forward this to them? Let’s spread the training messages to all who will listen and start improving the lives of more dogs and their owners 🙂

How to Stop Your Puppy From Mouthing and Biting

How to Stop Your Puppy From Mouthing and Biting


It’s one of the major puppy-hood issues that people face when they get a new puppy. And while it’s normal puppy behavior this doesn’t mean that we need to accept it.

So let’s talk about how to stop puppy mouthing and biting.

But like any behavior, before we start working on it, it’s important to know why it’s happening.

So first…

WHY Do Puppies Mouth and Bite?

Rest assured, it’s rare for a puppy to be truly aggressive. Puppy biting is common and normal and does not mean that your puppy is trying to aggressively hurt you.

I do hear from concerned puppy owners, often parents, worried that the puppy is an aggressive monster because the puppy bites and growls. But it always turns out to be play.

Puppies’ mouth and bite to practice life skills like hunting, to have fun and to work their teeth and jaws. By instinct, these skills need to be practiced to set them up for later in life when they need to hunt for real. This all comes from their natural instincts dating back to when they were wild dogs and wolves.

The instinct to chase and grab prey. ie fast moving or small furry objects is also a strong one. This is why young puppies often bite children – they move quickly, pull their hands away quickly and squeal. Just like prey! The puppy thinks it’s a great game!

Which leads us to…

HOW Do I Stop My Puppy From Mouthing and Biting?

The first clue to stopping an unwanted behavior is in the WHY.

Looking back at the reason why puppies mouth and bite, can you guess what the first thing is that we need to change?

The first thing that we need to do is remove the fun game.

Every time the puppy has fun mouthing and biting, it is learning that mouthing and biting pays off.

So the first thing we need to do is take that fun option away. Every time the puppy starts to put teeth on skin, say “no,” get up, and walk away. If the puppy is chasing and grabbing at your heels, stand up and stand completely still. Once you have said, “no” once, say nothing else.

A big mistake people make is using too many words when trying to teach their puppies. So say one clear word and then show the pup what it means by standing still or leaving immediately afterwards.

For additional effect, you could quickly and quietly pop the puppy into a time-out.

TIME OUT – For a time out to work, it needs to be a small, boring area with nothing to do. If you send a child to their room and they start playing video games in there and having fun, are they going to feel like they are being punished? It is the same for puppies. If you put puppy in a big room with things to grab and play with or interesting things to look at, they will quickly be occupied with something else. A time out should also be no long than one minute as past that point, there is no additional effect or learning.

How To Train Your Kids – Be A Tree

Part of stopping the puppy from biting the kids involves also training the children. While child training is not my specialty, here is a technique I have success with:

Teach the kids to “be a tree.” This means they stop what they are doing instantly, fold their arms and stand still, not even looking at the puppy.

How to stop puppy biting

IGNORING a puppy means not even making eye contact or looking at them


You can even make this training into a game with the kids.

It’s interesting to see how quickly the puppy gives up, gets bored and leaves when the children stops all reactions and stands still.

After the puppy has given up and calmed down, calm games may resume. But everyone needs to be really consistent that all play and attention stops the moment that the puppy starts to mouth or bite.

If everyone is consistent you should see the behavior getting less and less before your eyes! Puppies are such fast learners!

I would estimate a few days to a week of this for the behavior to stop completely.

Of course, there are other methods we can try if this doesn’t work but I find that this is the best approach to start with.

You can see a video lesson of how I treat mouthing and biting in the Puppy Priorities course, along with lessons on other common puppy issues like toilet training.

You can also join our Puppy Priorities Program for only $47.

In this course, we will cover everything about:

  • What is socialisation and HOW to socialise the RIGHT way
  • How to get through toilet training with less accidents
  • How to house train your puppy to not destroy your prized possessions and furniture
  • How to crate train your puppy
  • How to start leash training your puppy
  • How to stop mouthing, biting and jumping early on

* All Prices Are Displayed In US Dollars

5 Lessons Every Puppy Should Learn

5 Lessons Every Puppy Should Learn

It’s hard to pick a top 5 most important lessons for a new puppy. This article will cover some of the lessons I consider most important (other than socialisation which is THE most crucial!)

Being left alone is OK

Take it from me – separation related issues is one thing you really want to avoid. Most new puppies cry when left alone and this is not the same as a dog with separation anxiety. Train the puppy early to be comfortable while alone whether in a crate, laundry, back yard or dog run etc. Never go to the puppy and let her out when she is crying for attention

Come when called

A reliable recall would have to be THE most important obedience exercise. This is a safety issue. You do not want your dog to think twice about coming when called if there is an emergency – such as your dog running towards a busy road to chase a bird. Make sure that every time your dog comes when you call her, she feels rewarded. Never punish your dog after she has come when called. Even if she has done something wrong beforehand, the last thing she will remember and associate the punishment with is that she came to you when called.

Remember, punishment is what the dog finds undesirable. This may include putting the leash back on to go home.

Sit & Stay

A good reliable sit is useful for many training situations. For example, train a solid sit and teach your dog to sit to greet people rather than jumping up. Rather than teaching dogs the word “stay” after we have said “sit,” we teach dogs to hold the commanded position until they hear their release word. Such as, “ok” or “free.”

Stationing training where we teach the puppy to get on a mat and stay there until release is also an extremely useful skill.

Crate training

I find a lot of people have never heard of crate training. I too was sceptical at first but now I can’t imagine raising a puppy without crate training! Puppies need strict supervision just like a toddler. You wouldn’t let a toddler roam free in the house without supervision so why would you let a puppy do it? Free roaming allows puppies to practice bad habits such as chewing things and toileting in the house. Crate training is so useful for those times you can’t supervise, great for toilet training, a place for puppy or dog to sleep and also for travel or medical reasons. Teach your puppy to love her crate as her safe haven where pleasant things happen such as games, treats and meals.

Leave it

Protect your puppy from grabbing and eating harmful things such as cane toads or unknown edible items on the foot path by teaching your puppy to “leave it” on command. Reward your puppy with a better alternative for leaving the original item.

The Soundproof Puppy Training App for Socialisation!

The Soundproof Puppy Training App for Socialisation!

The soundproof puppy training app is an app available on Apple and Android that has useful sounds to condition your puppy to. This is very useful for socialisation in the puppy’s critical period of development.

We highly recommend it!

Click on the image links below to download

Here is an example of how the app can be used to condition your dog or puppy to sounds.

The soundproof puppy training app is an app available on Apple and Android that has useful sounds to condition your puppy to. This is very useful for socialisation in the puppy’s critical period of development.

We highly recommend it!

Click on the image links below to download

Here is an example of how the app can be used to condition your dog or puppy to sounds.