Of course, you can walk two dogs at once, or, as I do, sometimes three. If you can’t walk two of your own dogs at the same time, it’s a training problem and, usually, the problem is distractions—things the dog(s) want, causing them to get excited and out of control. That can be trouble with two dogs on leash together. You can only walk two dogs at once if they know each other and are both calm and trained to walk on leash.
Twenty years ago, I learned that the hard way—trying to manage my three Shelties in a frenzy due to a passing car! I learned what happens when your dog isn’t taught to ignore distractions when asked to do so. And now, I always include this lesson in my basic classes. Just imagine walking two dogs at once when one sees a squirrel . . . Let’s begin.
First, you don’t need any special equipment. Here’s all you need:
- A well-fitted collar or harness
- A leash no longer than six feet (absolutely no retractable leashes)
- Treats (lots of good ones)
Pulling is sometimes part of the issue when walking two dogs, or with one dog for that matter. If you have a puller, work on that before walking two dogs at once.
Start With One Dog
In this short piece, we are going to focus on distraction training and assume your dog knows how to walk quietly on a leash and other basic cues like sit, wait, and a release cue. If not, you need to read “Polite Leash Walking.”
For help with teaching your dog to disengage from things he finds distracting, see “Teach Your Dog to ‘Leave It’ Without a Cue.” Teaching your dogs, individually, to handle distractions and return their attention to you is worth every minute you can put into it. Do all these same training steps with your other dog, too. Take your time.
Putting Them Together
When your dogs have met your walking criteria individually, such as sitting on cue or returning their attention to you even when something tantalizing is nearby, take them for a walk together in a quiet area. Practice away from traﬃc, then gradually introduce triggers and distractions. They should both sit on cue and be rewarded. Make the intensity of the triggers gradually more difficult.
Not successful? Go back to square one. (Someone once said, “Don’t complain, train!” But no one ever said it was easy.)
I can often be seen in the neighborhood pushing a stroller with my elderly Sheltie inside, and a couple of Goldens or Shelties trotting alongside. Folks are amazed that I can do this with my dogs. I tell them, “No magic here … just training.”