How to walk and train two dogs at the same time



How to walk two dogs at the same time

It’s important for me to dedicate individual time each day to my own dog Ace and to my foster dog Cosmo.

Ace and Cosmo have different needs as far as attention, exercise and training, but I usually end up walking them together to save time. Or, I walk one dog and the other doesn’t get a walk that day.

For those of you with two permanent dogs (or three or four!), how do you find the time for each dog? Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you hang out as a group most of the time. Are you OK with that?

Like most dog lovers, I am always thinking about adopting a second dog. Before I do this, I have to reach some kind of acceptance about how much time I actually have for a new mutt. Ideally, I would find another easygoing, fairly mellow dog like Ace.

Walking with two dogs

Ace and Cosmo are not on the same level when it comes to training and socialization, but I usually end up walking them together anyway. We walk in the morning and again most evenings for about 25 minutes per walk.

When I walk the clowns together, both benefit from the exercise and walking as a “pack,” but it’s nearly impossible to work on their individual training needs. They both wear training collars so I am able to keep them under control. Cosmo pretty much pulls the whole time, and Ace is not challenged at all. Plus, it’s not always fair to work on training if the dog’s basic exercise needs have not been met.

Walking the dogs individually

Ace

Lab mix Ace generally has very good leash manners. I would like to work on more off-leash training with him. Sometimes he behaves even better without a leash because it forces me to use a different kind of energy. I want to focus on rewarding Ace for remaining calm when we visit his favorite people or places. I do not want to rely on any type of training collar with him, and he is the perfect candidate to take almost anywhere. I trust Ace to be gentle around all people and animals, as long as they don’t mind the drool and tail whips! With a second dog around, Ace and I have had very few opportunities to work at this level.

Cosmo

American Eskimo Cosmo needs a lot of work on loose-leash walking. Ideally, I should stop moving forward every time he pulls. But when I walk two dogs at once, Cosmo gets away with a lot of pulling. I want to get to the point where I can walk him on a loose leash, at least when there are no distractions. I would also like him to focus on me when we pass kids and dogs. He and I are preparing to take the AKC Canine Good Citizen test in a few weeks, which tests whether the dog can remain under control in various public situations. Whether or not The Cos passes this test is going to depend a lot on how strict the evaluator is!

How can I find time for each dog?

I’ve been thinking about how I can find time for each dog. I am very lucky that Ace and Cosmo do not require a ton of physical exercise. A half-hour walk per day seems to be enough for each dog.

I’m going to try a new routine where I walk one dog in the morning and the other in the evening so they each get individual time with me. But every other day I will take them running together so they get enough exercise. So, the first day I will walk them individually. The second day I will run them together. The third day I will walk them individually again, and so on.

When we head out for a walk, it also helps if I decide ahead of time what the goal of that walk is going to be. Are we focusing on getting some exercise? Is the goal of this walk to work on not pulling? Am I going to take Ace somewhere new today?

No matter what, I choose not to feel guilty. I know Ace and Cosmo are spoiled and happy. They never complain. They have it pretty good. They don’t seem to care if I walk them together or separately or even not at all.

I am curious what other people do when they have multiple dogs with very different needs.

Do you typically walk your dogs together or separately?

Cosmo the American Eskimo cute white dog up for adoption

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  1. Maggie on October 6, 2011

    Oh my goodness. This is an ongoing debate in my house. There is no way to give all 3 equal attention. As far as walks go, I can’t take all 3 at once because we have so much wildlife around us that they really want to chase, and they (combined) outweigh me by 60+ pounds. What I’ve been doing is shifts: Half an hour with Lucas and Cooper, then half an hour with Emmett and Cooper. Because he’s SO high energy, Coop needs at least twice the amount of time that the older dogs need. As far as training, I’m still trying to figure that out, especially with clicker training. If you find a solution, please share! :)

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 7, 2011

      That sounds like a good way to do it, Maggie. Whenever I’m pet sitting for someone, I typically walk the dogs in groups of two. The dog with the highest energy goes along on all the walks :)

  2. Jan on October 6, 2011

    I walk my four little guys together and it isn’t especially pretty. They pull when we start out because I’m too slow. It’s my fault that I am a slow human with only two legs. We walk to a field where they can run off leash and then we look cute walking at my pace with loose leashes.

  3. shanendoah@Life by Pets on October 7, 2011

    Two dogs, two people- that helps tremendously. I do take both dogs on a short walk (less than 10 minutes) each morning before I leave for work. It mostly works because they are 30 and 23lbs, not even as much combined as my Aussie was on his own. I do not hook them together, they each get their own leash to allow the Beagle a bit more sniffing room.
    We also go to the dog park almost daily. The Terrier has energy needs that far outweight the Beagle’s, and since neither C nor I are runners, the dog park is a bit of a necessity. If we didn’t go regularly, there would be behavior problems.
    We don’t train on walks, but we do some training at the dog park, even though its mostly for exercise. The training is limited to getting the Beagle to come when we call her (this does require treat- she’s a Beagle) and getting the Terrier to switch focus to us when he starts to get agitated. He does not disengage well (though he’s gotten better) so we’re working on that, but also on learning the cues that show he’s on the way to agitated and interrupting in advance. So that’s more about training us than him.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 7, 2011

      The dog park is always interesting! I don’t visit too often since all my lab mix wants to do is play fetch. We can pay fetch at home!

      • shanendoah@Life by Pets on October 11, 2011

        At home, all our Aussie cared about was BALL- but at the dog park, no interest what so ever. He just wanted to run. He wasn’t interested in other dogs either (well, except the Border Collie pack that was sometimes there) and would even herd our Lab/Pit mix away from the other dogs.
        With Larry, our Smooth Fox, he’s not all that interested in fetch at home, and depending on the dog mix, not always interested at the dog park. But on days when there aren’t many dogs there, I’m glad for the chucker and that he does like fetch, because the boy needs to run.
        For us, the dog park (and exercise in general) has only a minor training component. I think of it like an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. For the most part, Larry is a very responsive dog. But I think that would change in a heart beat if his exercise needs weren’t being met.

        • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 11, 2011

          My dog is one of those dogs that is crazy fixated when it comes to fetching. One time a bear wondered across the front lawn, and my dog didn’t even notice! He was staring at the ball waiting for someone to throw it! He has issues …

  4. lizzedru on October 7, 2011

    Since I’m down to one horse I’ve been trying to get two walks in a day for some of the week. I’ve also decided to start jogging with both dogs in the morning. They both love it and D.O.G. and I are the perfect cadence for each other. Belle actually doesn’t seem to pull as much when I’m jogging. But we normally start with bad leash behavior and end up coming home with great manners. This week I was acutally able to get both dogs out for their own walks and we did it off lead. It was great! I think D.O.G. was litterally smiling the whole time. He got walked first.

    So I guess most of the walking is done together but sometimes Belle comes with me to work and we get more training and more walking time. Its a balance and there are some mornings and evenings that we don’t get our walks or they aren’t as long as they want but we all seem to get along fine.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 7, 2011

      Sounds like you are doing something similar. I’m sure they love any attention they can get, whether it’s individual time with you or going out as a group!

  5. Elizabeth A. Burgess on October 8, 2011

    We have recently acquired a third dog, as he was wandering down our street with a broken chain around his neck earlier this year. I try to get out with each one individually at least once per week, but definitely end up walking them all together most of the time. One thing that seems to work for me is direction changes. I don’t worry too much about heel position, just leash respect. Whenever they start pulling, I announce, “Come on, dogs!” and go another way. At first this technique left us all looking a little befuddled, but now they know to expect it and pay much better attention. However, I agree with other comments that we usually look much better coming home than heading out!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 8, 2011

      Direction changes work well for me too.

      • Hannah on October 9, 2011

        Me too! I was using the “stop every time” … but I only have limited time for a walk, and I think it was just frustrating the dogs more than anything. So, every time they ‘hit the end’ of their leash, we do a brisk 180 and go the other way. In the beginning with some of the pointer mixes (talk about energy!) I was only covering about 5 feet of ground, but at least we were still burning energy and not standing still.

        I walk dogs for the local SPCA so every dog is different, but this seems to work for many different personality types, including the ones who have literally gone ‘kennel crazy’ and nothing else will get them to refocus.

        • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 9, 2011

          I don’t like the method of stopping and then waiting for the dog to loosen up the leash. They need some kind of correction in order to know to back up. Or sometimes treats work. So I’m with you – totally get it! Switching directions works well, or even just zig zagging or turning to the left and bumping into them.

  6. Dawn on October 8, 2011

    I walk Sephi and Maya together. Like Ace and Cosmo, Sephi is generally well-mannered on a leash while Maya is all gung-ho. The one thing that has made walking them together easier is that Sephi always walks on my left and when Maya was added to the family she quickly learned to stay on my right.

  7. Jessi on October 9, 2011

    Whenever I walk two dogs I always seem to end up with the old, slow dog and the other is the super excitable, crazy dog.

  8. Jana Rade on October 9, 2011

    We always walk our dogs together. The only time we didn’t was when Jasmine was after her surgeries. Then she’d get her modified therapy walk and I’d take JD to the dog park.

    Still today, when Jasmine is at the vet’s or at her physical therapist, or when she goes to work with hubby for the day, then I’ll take JD solo.

    Otherwise we always go together as a pack. And that’s what they like the most too. Even dogs at friends’ farm love joining on the common walks and they are all very excited about that.

    We did some training with JD separately, usually in the yard and I do some when we got out just the two of us. Otherwise we just work with them together too. Here is the advantage of having an obedient hubby LOL

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 9, 2011

      When Josh walks with the dogs and I, we do not work on training. So sometimes it’s nice for him to go along and walk a dog, but he does not want to have to pay attention to the dogs at all. He is quick to point out when they pull, yet he has not spent a minute on training. So, you know …

  9. Kirsten on October 11, 2011

    In an ideal world, I’d have individual walks for all my dogs. I’d give the fosters the training they need to walk better on leash, and give my dog one-on-one time so he feels loved and can relax away from those two!

    But in the real world, I seldom have time for three separate walks, twice a day. So I generally let the two fosters play in the yard to get their exercise that way and walk my senior boy alone, and forego walks with my wacky fosters except on days off! When I’m feeling guilty enough about leaving those two home when I leash up my boy–and when I’m feeling adventurous and masochistic–I’ll sometimes take all 3. This usually ends with me crouched on the pavement and thrusting cheese into one mouth while I wrest a leash from another mouth and apologize to passersby, but somehow I still do it :)

    When I do have time, I love giving each dog a solo walk and giving personalized attention to their issues.

  10. Robin on October 14, 2011

    I have two permanent dogs and we always seem to have a foster – one at a time. I have a laid back chow/lab mix (we think) and a medium energy aussie that is a bit bossie. They both love, and I mean love, to go for walks. I usually walk them together without much difficulty. I was just reading your article, though, because meeting new dogs on our walk (or even the ones we’ve met before) seem to be a challenge at times. I was wondering if that’s because we let them in the back yard and they can watch the dogs walk past and loose ones come up to the fence. They do still bark at them when they are loose in the fenced area (yes, we have those bad dogs that park at others going past. What can we do to stop the barking when others walk their dogs past the fenced yard? Then I hope to train each foster to do the same so they won’t have issues when they leave us.

  11. Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 14, 2011

    With the barking in the yard, if you can keep them in a calm state of mind and focus on you, that would help take care of the problem. You can do this by working with one dog at a time and keeping a long rope on the dog to re-gain control as needed. Teach them a “watch” command and treat them for making eye contact. Use highly valued treats. Reward them whenever they remain calm when other dogs go by. The goal would be to get them to automatically remain calm even when you are not in the yard to keep them under control.

    Now, that being said, this kind of work takes a lot of patience, time and discipline from the owner. And once you have two dogs together, they tend to get each other riled up. So, another approach I highly recommend is getting an e-collar for each dog. You can either get one with a remote so you always control the correction, or get one that is triggered by the dog’s barking. The idea would be to give an immediate correction for barking and an immediate treat for being quiet. This is going to be the most effective way to get them to stop barking in your yard.

  12. Kristina on April 13, 2012

    I walk two dogs and usually I will cater to the higher-energy one’s needs as I find the other one gets even more exercise that way – which makes her owner happy :) also if I am in a place where I’m confident about their safety, I’ll let them off leash and throw the ball around or encourage them to chase each other while I’m walking or rollerblading nearby. I may only do 3 miles but the dogs are zooming around me for at least 5!

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