As you can imagine, many of my clients have more than one dog. They often call me because they realize that training more than one dog at a time is a little harder than training just one dog. I thought I’d share with you the game-plan that I give these clients in the event that it helps you accomplish some of your training goals in your multiple dog household. By the way, for those of who only have one dog, but visit regularly with friends’ and family’s dogs, this little game-plan can help you gain some sanity in those relationships as well. Additionally, I’ve embedded our video mini-lesson on this topic, which is a short pre-amble, mini-lesson from our video training course, which helps people customize the video course to their situation.
The Three Phases
These three phases for training more than one dog is really just a specific manifestation of what I call “the natural learning process”. The definition for that, in my mind, is, to start everything as easy as you can and then incrementally adapt to progressive challenge. So, that leads to the question, “how do I start this process as easy as I can?” Well, that’s easy. Start by training only one dog at a time.
Phase 1: Individual training
Develop a functional relationship with each dog individually. Work through walking on a loose leash, some basic functional obedience through medium level distractions. Then move to Phase 2.
Phase 2: Training one dog while the other dog is near by
Once you’re impressed with the basic progress of each of your dogs, bring the second dog into the mix, to be tied out off to the side as a distraction. Your training sessions will have two halves to it. In the first half, work one dog and tie out the other one nearby as a distraction. In the second half, switch dogs.
Phase 3: Train both dogs simultaneously
Once you can reliably get each dog functional near the other, inoperative dog, it’s time to handle both leashes. You’ll likely experience a little back sliding in proficiency the first couple of sessions, but your foundational work will pay off and you’ll be up a running with two dogs before you know it.
- For houses with 3 or more dogs you’re going to have to do more stages of bringing dogs out incrementally
- Work on having your obedience commands be specific to each dog (e.g.: Rover Sit! Sparky Down! etc.)
Here’s the little mini video lesson on this topic from the video course:
Hopefully that helps you multi-dog folks!
All the best,