By Karen A. Soukiasian
Have you noticed there is an increase in multiple dog families? With that come added joys, laughs, challenges, and questions. One of the most frequent questions trainers are asked is, “Can I walk multiple dogs together?”
You need to know your dogs, before you can form a plan as to the best way to train them to walk as a pack. Dogs often respond according to their status in their pack. To be successful walking more than one dog at a time, you, as the leader, must project confidence. Since dogs are pack animals, there will also be a lead dog in your pack, the others will follow instinctively follow. Evidenced by the teamwork between the musher and lead dog; and all the subordinate dogs on a dog sled team, if the lead dog is controlled, the others usually fall into place.
Dogs learn by association, repetition, and most importantly consistency. The single greatest mistake most inexperienced dog owners make, is failing to be consistent. Your lack of consistency only confuses your pet.
Another important consideration when training dogs is how biddable each dog is. It has nothing to do with the dog’s intelligence! Biddable means how willing they are to please you. Some breeds are inherently more compliant than others are!
Finally, pulling is inherent in dogs. Ideally, you want a loose leash, one forming a U between you and your dogs. Be aware, the more you pull them, the more they will pull you. It is called opposition reflex. Relax, take charge and the walk will be a pleasant experience. If you keep a taut leash, it’s just a matter of time, before you will be looking up their ancestors, while being dragged behind your out-of-control pack! Not a pretty sight.
Tips For Walking Multiple Dogs
What an impressive sight watching a person confidently walk a pack of well-behaved dogs in unison! It’s not magic…it’s nature. It is a primitive behavior for dogs to follow their leader. That’s how packs survive. To be that leader, and maintain control, it takes self-confidence on your part, proper equipment, time, patience, and teamwork.
We suggest you start by training your dogs one at a time, to walk properly at your side. A well-fitted and correctly located collar is necessary. Your tone of voice, timing of praise and corrections, and keeping a loose leash is important. Granted, it’s more work, and more time-consuming. However, it gives you private time with each dog, to watch for inappropriate behaviors, form a bond, and establish your position as the leader. It is vital your dogs identify you as the leader they want to follow.
Begin by separately training each dog to heel on command, walk without pulling, stop when you stop and remain focused on you. You decide the length of the walk, and the direction you’ll be taking. Plus, you’ll set the pace and be the only one to decide if, when, and/or where you’ll be making stops. Any dog that continues to lag or pull, you will work with separately, until they grasp the concept they must keep a steady pace and follow your lead.
Once you have gained complete control of each dog, you attempt to walk them together; either coupled, or on separate leashes. If you have more than two dogs, slowly add an additional dog to the pack, when you feel you can control that number of dogs. If one dog needs more work, walk them separately until you can control them, before returning them to the pack.
Even though you are the true leader of the pack, coupled dogs or dogs walking on separate leashes, will form a hierarchy, and they will follow the lead dog. It is imperative the lead dog knows unequivocally, he or she must respond immediately to any commands or signals you give. Otherwise, there can be chaos!
There are a number of excellent products online and in pet stores for walking multiple dogs. To limit the number of leashes you’ll be holding, we suggest you invest in a durable leather 6-foot leash, a well made, and well-fitted collar and a sturdy web coupler.
Bottom line: You are the undisputed leader of your pack. To maintain control over your pack whether you are training them, playing with them, or walking them you must always maintain a leadership demeanor. Being fair, firm, and consistent are the keys to successful dog walking, be it one or ten dogs! It may also be helpful to enroll in a local obedience-training class, that applies positive reinforcement, punishment-free methods. It’s a terrific way for you to gain the confidence and experience you will need, to be the leader your dogs want to follow.
Want more training tips? Learn to train multiple dogs.
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