Dogs seem to be a lot like potato chips. It’s hard to have just one. In fact, surveys by the American Pet Product Association show that over 40 percent of pet-owning households have more than one furry friend.
For dog parents, this can mean more fun, more cuddles and more tail wags. But it can also present a challenge when it comes to training.
Anyone who has ever tried to train two dogs at one time knows that it can be, well, something of a challenge. One dog ends up hogging all the attention or another dog gets jealous and nobody (including the human) seems to know exactly what they’re supposed to be learning.
For some pet parents, it may seem too difficult and they may decide to forego training altogether. But, as professional trainers know, one of the keys to a successful and peaceful multi-dog household is ongoing manners and skills training.
Check out these tips to help dog moms and dads manage (and enjoy) at-home training time with more than one pooch.
Put Dogs in Separate Rooms
Separating the dogs entirely is obviously the easiest way to train. To prevent jealousy or anxiety, leave a project toy or game with the dog that’s not being trained. Keep training sessions short so that no one is confined for a long period of time.
Crate or Tether
For pet parents who are good multi-taskers and have more advanced skills, it can actually be helpful to have the other dog(s) in the room during training sessions. That’s because dogs often learn by observing the behavior of other dogs.
Either confine the other pup to a crate or safely tether him with a leash near a bed or mat. During the training session, the non-working dog should be repeatedly rewarded and praised for calm behavior.
Enlist Some Extra Help
When it comes to working with multiple dogs, it can be helpful to enlist the assistance of friends or family members. For example, one person can be treating the crated dog while the other is training. A professional dog trainer is also a great resource for helpful tips, ideas and methods for training more than one dog.
Assign Different Markers
A clicker is a great tool for marking the desired behavior during a training session. But this may lead to confusion when training multiple dogs, especially if they’re in the same room. Try using different markers for different dogs. There are clickers on the market that emit varying sounds, but just using verbal markers like “yes” or “good” can be a good option, too.
Work Training into Daily Life
Brushing up on skills and manners doesn’t have to be confined to formal training session. After all, these are the things that make life with dogs easier and more fun. So pet parents should look for ways to work training into day-to-day activities. For example, asking the dogs to sit for meals, waiting before going out the door and staying in place when company comes over.
Your turn: What tips do you have for training multiple dogs in a household? Share with us in the comments below.