A Puppy’s Perspective
I remember snuggling up to my brothers and sisters and feeling safe and secure when I was born. My mother was so gentle with us and taught us many things in my first few weeks of life. The people that looked after my mother made sure she had lots to eat and didn’t bother us much.
Then something terrible happened. My counting is not that developed but I think it was around my sixth week with my mother, brothers, and sisters that people started to come and look at us. They stood over us and made all sorts of funny noises, they looked happy enough. Then they started to pick us up, this was a little bit stressful for all of us, but our mother comforted us afterwards and we felt very tired.
Just as life was getting back to being the same, a few of the humans returned and after making a lot more noise, they picked up my brother and took him away. He never came back. The next day my two sisters left with different humans and they also never came back. Now it was just my brother and I, we played a lot together and I was so worried that he would disappear next.
A few days later, a group of humans came to look at us and we clung together trying to keep them away. They eventually managed to pick us up separately and we both screamed to be put back down. We settled when they stood next to each other and we could be close again. The little humans were doing a funny dance and making a strange whining noise, it was really terrible to be put in their arms.
I felt insecure, like I might be dropped or they would run away with me and I would never see my brother again. After what seemed like a very long time, these humans took us to a funny shaped box that smelled unusual and put us inside. The box started to move and we both cried till it stopped. The humans let us sit close together and they kept stroking us and making quiet sounds at us. We felt they were telling us we were right to be scared. We missed our mother and I vomited up my breakfast. The little humans screamed and that was really horrible.
It has been a few weeks now and we have been to puppy school. This was okay however, the human who taught us some manners and had very yummy tasty treats tried to separate myself and my brother and we screamed in fear and unsettled all the puppies, so they let us stay together.
The human with all the tasty treats has a lot of conversations with our humans, they did not always look very happy. Our humans have been working hard trying to help us learn to be apart, but we just can’t control our fear. They sometimes get really upset with us. The other puppies in the class seem okay without their siblings, they are better at exploring the room and playing together. My brother and I don’t always get along with the others, we prefer to be together. I feel afraid down on the ground by myself.
I can’t believe we are a year old today, we are both big boys. Our humans didn’t continue on with our education because we just can’t be apart and they got very frustrated with us.
We have been getting into a lot of trouble as we really miss them when they are gone during the day. We calm ourselves by chewing on things around the yard, digging some big holes to lie in, and we bark a lot to let other humans know this is our home. We don’t go out much anymore because our humans get very angry with us and yell a lot. When they try and walk us separately, we become so fearful we scream. Other humans look at all of us very strangely and ours get very embarrassed and move us away quickly.
I wonder will we ever get to explore beyond our fence again, it’s been a very long time.
A Trainer’s Perspective
All around Australia, each and every day, sibling puppies are being sent out into the world to live a life filled with constant stress and anxiety due to their natural predisposition to over bond. They often find it very difficult; if impossible to separate and will therefore never develop their own independence. Sadly they often develop behavioural issues due to their constant state of stress as the only way to calm them down is to leave them with their sibling.
As breeders, pet shop owners, and trainers we have a responsibility and a duty of care to educate and inform potential owners about the long-term implications of taking home sibling puppies. It may pull on potential owners heart-strings to separate them. They may think that two puppies will be company for each other (terrible misconception) and they will avoid behavioural issues, or they may feel they can train out what nature has created, but the reality of having two over bonded puppies will quickly set in and the emotional trauma for both puppies and owners can become extreme.
We also have a duty of care to the puppies we are raising and selling or training to use our expertise to speak for the puppies. How different and much more emotionally balanced could their lives be if they could have spoken for themselves and told us what life together would be like. I strongly doubt that the loving family with all the best intentions in the world would have taken home those two puppies if the breeder had educated them properly and advised against it.
Ingerlisa Matthews – Head Trainer
Certificate IV Behaviour and Training
Note from Editor:
This is a true story of two puppies booked into one of our many classes. Unfortunately this story repeats itself constantly. Some cases are extreme; some cases are mild however the separation anxiety is always there. We are always there to support owners with their choice as Australia’s leading educators in behavioural training however our 35 years of experience tells us that one puppy at a time makes the best present for a life of enjoyment and happiness between man and his best friend.