Why is It Hard To Train Two Dogs at Once?

Adrienne Farricelli

It is hard to train two dogs at once for various factors, but there are options to make things easier

It is difficult to train two dogs at once because the presence of another dog acts as a strong distraction, creating some challenges in the process.

Perhaps the other dog gets in the way, wants all the attention and access to treats or starts barking at sounds, evoking barking in your other dog as well.

On top of that, when training for the first time, dogs needs lots of individualized attention. You may also find it very difficult to juggle various items such as treats, a clicker and a leash and you may miss rewarding a dog at the right time. Timing is paramount for the dog to associate the behavior with the reward.

So what can be done if you need to train one dog at a time, but the other dogs is upset about it, making the process very difficult?

Well, first of all, take it as a compliment. If your other dog barks and gets frustrated while your other dog is being trained, it signals that you have done a good job in making the training process fun and rewarding.

Fortunately there are several options to make the training process easier.

  1. You can have the dog not being trained kept in a crate/exercise pen along with a valuable long-lasting treat (for example a stuffed Kong) that can keep him/her occupied while you train your other dog. With time, your dogs will come to look forward to the other dog being trained because they have formed positive associations with that.

  2. You can have a family member engage the other dog in some rewarding activity such as exploring/playing in the yard, engaging in some brain games in another room or being out on a walk.

  3. If you are training during walks, it is important to walk only one dog at a time. This is important considering that dogs tend to feed off each others' emotions, not to mention you won't be able to give both dogs the individualized attention they need.

As your dogs get more proficient in learning to respond to your cues, you can then start adding the distraction of one another. This is therefore a good time to ask for both of your dog to sit, lie down and stay or you can practice recalls with both your dogs together.

For walks though, it may be best to still skip walking both dogs at the same time, especially if you have larger dogs who may be more difficult to control. Dogs may feed off each others emotions until they are perfectly trained around strong distractions. Take turns walking each dog or enlist the help of a family member.