Two puppies may be twice as much fun as one, but having two can also double your troubles. Confrontation is a staple of canine socialization, so it can take a while to train them out of aggressive behavior. Your dogs may be fighting over food, dominance or even you.
Mother dogs provide the nourishment and warmth that her puppies need to survive. Unfortunately, puppies who lose their mother in the first few days of life miss out on a lot more than these staples. Mothers also teach their offspring the basics of socialization, so they understand the difference between acceptable and "rude" behavior. Puppies raised without a mother don't understand the subtleties of canine communication, so they are more likely to slip up. Even if they aren't trying to pick a fight, other puppies or adult dogs may see their actions as a challenge. This is particularly dangerous if a puppy acts this way around a large adult dog, but it can also suddenly start fights between socialized and non-socialized puppies.
Playing and Development
Biting and rough play are normal parts of a young dog's life. Puppies spend up to 90 percent of their time chewing or biting on other puppies, which helps them precisely control their bites as adults, according to Partnership for Animal Welfare. Keep your eyes and ears open when your dogs are engaged in an epic conflict. Dogs often growl during play, but it's time to break it up when you see bared teeth, yowls of pain or snarling. If one takes it a bit too far accidentally, the other pup may respond nastily and suddenly. This unexpected outburst is alarming, but is likely to happen until the two establish the proper play boundaries.
Possession and Dominance
Jealousy is a powerful motivator for dogs. If one has a bone or toy, the other will surely want it. If one is sleeping in the good bed, the other will want to do the same. Having two male pups of the same age is a handful for sure, since both will compete for your attention, treats and other goodies. Both dogs should have their own crates in separate parts of the room or house. If your pups fight over food or treats, then feed them separately. You can even feed them in their cages to be on the safe side. Give both of them attention and discourage competitive behavior by ignoring the dog who picks a fight with the one you are petting.
Never respond to your puppies' fights with painful discipline. In a 2009 study, University of Pennsylvania veterinary researchers found a correlation between aggressive punishment and fighting between dogs, according to Northwestern University Medill Reports. Reward good behavior with treats, toys and praise. Never reward aggressive or poor behavior. Remember to keep your hands and arms out of a dog fight. Separate them by spraying them with a squirt bottle or making a loud noise. Another great strategy for managing aggression is making sure your two boys get plenty of exercise. They are less likely to fight if they are exhausted from a run around the block.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.