By Jessica Beganski
If you have multiple dogs and walk them at the same time, you may have experienced one or all of these behaviors: barking, dragging, aggression, pulling, going in opposite directions, teaming up and out of control behavior. Marie Joyner, Our Companions Canine Operations Director, reports that bad behavior on the leash is one of the most common problems that owners of multiple dogs want to correct.
Marie warns that walking multiple dogs at the same time can be chaotic and possibly dangerous without proper training. Even if dogs are well-mannered separately, putting two dogs together in such a stimulus-rich environment can result in their reacting to each other and feeding off one another’s misbehaviors.
She advises clients that the best solution is probably the simplest – walk dogs separately. Walking your canine companions separately has many benefits. First, a walk is a wonderful time for special, one-on-one bonding that multiple dogs don’t often get with their owner. Walking each dog separately allows you to work on training, building your relationship and spending some nice quality time with each other. Secondly, walking dogs separately gives them a rest from each other. Imagine if you spent every day, all day with someone – you might want a change, too.
Your dogs don’t need to do everything together and they don’t need exactly the same things. Marie recommends, in fact, that you do treat dogs differently. Perhaps one of your dogs needs a longer walk than the other, or needs to be walked less frequently. You could take one dog on a longer hike and treat your other dog to shorter daily walks. The time you may need to spend actually walking your dogs separately may be greater but the time spent together may be so much more pleasant for all of you.
One of the worries that owners with multiple dogs have is leaving the other dog(s) behind. Marie has a great solution: when you leave your other dog(s) home, give them a special treat. Put them in a crate if you need to but be sure to leave them with something special that they don’t get every day – a Kong® toy filled with a treat, for example. The dog you’re leaving home will enjoy the treat and you’ll enjoy a nice long walk with the other dog.
Marie acknowledges that some people really want their dogs to walk together. “If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to first train each dog separately to walk on a leash, and then train them to walk together using the same training technique each time and with both dogs, then it’s definitely possible to do so. But it’s a commitment and you have to work at it consistently over time,” says Marie.
Whether you decide to walk your canine companions separately as Marie suggests or invest the time and effort to train them to walk together, there’s no doubt that walking your dogs can and should be a positive experience for everyone.
If you’re interested in improving your dog’s skills and walking etiquette, remember that Our Companions offers an extensive array of training classes at the Valerie Friedman Program Center. Check OurCompanions.org for a current class schedule.