Training In A Multiple Dog Household

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by Amateur, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. Amateur Experienced Member

    I am always amazed when I see one dog just lying there nicely while the person works with another dog. Works out just fine until the treats come out, then its every dog for themself as they throw themselves at my feet in a series of sits and downs to out do the other. Its also hard to teach them together as one is at a very different learning curve than the other.

    Any tips ? I am guessing I must first work on the down stay with distractions. I saw today something on Crate games and wondering if having one dog in the open crate would somehow be easier for them while I worked with the second dog. I hate crating one when they know the other is getting attention and treats even though they will get their turn next.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
    MissyBC and tigerlily46514 like this.

  2. MissyBC Experienced Member

    First of all, just to let you know, I am a 3-dog-household 5 days a week (2 nine year old shelties and my 1 year old border collie). :)

    I just thought of this today:

    1. If you need to work with one dog at a time, get your treats out first. (don't worry at this point if your dog(s) are near you.)
    2. Then once you have your treats on hand, put your other dog(s) that aren't going to be working in a sit or down stay (whichever you prefer... I prefer 'down stay'), where you want them to be.
    3. While you work with the other dog... throw random treats to the dogs that aren't working. :)
    4. Have fun!

    Hope this helps!
    ohSNAPCAKES and Amateur like this.
  3. laramie Experienced Member

    I'm having the same problem.

    My BC constantly wants to do tricks, and my Aussie doesn't. Until the food comes out. Then Sparrow comes and will sit almost on my feet. She acts like I'm just going to give her treats, and I NEVER do that. She's such a pain and I'm about to go crazy because nothing I do works.

    I don't give her attention when she sits at my feet, and if I sit or kneel to work with Fairley, she gets in my face or in my lap and if I push her or order her off, she comes straight back. It's getting REALLY annoying. Also, if Fairley is not getting the attention and I try working with Sparrow, she does the same thing. I usually sit on the floor to start new tricks because I like being on their level, but she tries getting in my lap and won't pay attention to what I'm trying to teach her. She's not allowed in my lap at all because I know this is a problem for her and she doesn't get as much training as Fairley because of this.

    I can't always crate them, so I need to do something. I've seen something on It's Me or the Dog that has to do with attention giving, but I don't know if that will work in my or Amateur's situation because it deals with food.
    Amateur likes this.
  4. fickla Experienced Member

    I have 2 dogs, 1 long term foster (that rotates every year), and other fosters that come in and out on a short term basis. Once the initial "pack" knows the rules, it's really easy to bring in any foster and have them learn the rules right from the start. They watch what the other dogs are doing and since they have never known any other rules for MY household I'm not retraining. I don't put the dogs in a down stay, their rule is simply that they can't interfere. I establish this by

    1) feeding the foster first, using their meal as training. this way they are a tiny bit less excited about the other dog's food and training time (my training time is meal time)
    2) save some of their meal while I "train" another dog. I'm focused heavily on the new dog, rewarding them for not interfering by tossing treats, and doing a ton of body blocking to get them out of my space. I don't yell, just calmly block them out of the way. The first few lessons I'm really not doing much training with the other dogs besides basic cues as I can't focus 100% on them until the new dog doesn't need me to body block anymore.

    I find body blocking even works nicely when I'm working with the various dogs at work. I sometimes jump start the process by giving the 2nd dog a bone or stuffed kong so they can see me training but have something else to do.

    If I was working on retraining a dog who is very used to bullying in and getting their way, I think having a type of barrier would be best. An open crate is a really good idea, or a platform such as stool, couch, or a mat that defines their boundaries. Or I could try another type of barrier such as the entryway from kitchen to living room where the change in floor defines their line. Ideally I would want their defined area to not be physically preventing the dog from coming to me, but rather the dog to learn to stay there on their own. The boundary more so serves to define where you want them to be rather than what they shouldn't do. A second person can help by tossing treats to the dogs rather than me trying to remember on my own.

    Edit: A body block is not "pushing" the dog off or touching them in any way. That physical contact can be seen as a reward for the dog since they're getting your attention. Rather, I simply move into the dog and claim my space.
    Amateur likes this.
  5. Amateur Experienced Member

    I better start working on a good down stay !
    Lots of good advice ... will try the body blocking and boundary setting.
    I guess it comes down to Yes you do train both at the same time, one is just being trained to do something other than interfere.
    Would I also be correct in thinking that it would be good to teach them not to pay attention to the treats - I saw a video where they had a bowl of food and only treated the dog when it showed no interest. Would that help too ?
  6. sara Moderator

    I just have a strong down stay. Oliver goes first, then Mouse then Boo. Mouse and Boo have to stay on the chair while I work with Ollie, then he has to lay in his bed while I work with Mouse then Boo. They're all good at the stay.

    The beginning of teaching one to stay while working with the other. Oliver and Mouse were both pups at the time... and I sound like an idiot! LOL

    Ollie is hilarious in this one... especially towards the end! LOL

    And the peanut gallery as coined by a friend... I didn't notice that Mouse and Boo were visible in most of this video! LOL

    Reminds me, I want to post this video on another thread! LOL
    mewzard and MissyBC like this.
  7. Amateur Experienced Member

    Great Videos Sara
    Two Thumbs up ! and a treat !
  8. laramie Experienced Member

    Fickla, I've been ordering Sparrow away or standing up because the pushing her away wasn't working, even though I would do it silently and without looking at her (something I learned a while ago.) As far as the doorway thing, Sparrow doesn't pay enough attention to things like this to care whether it's there or not. I also do body block, but it doesn't work with what I need to fix. When I'm standing and giving Fairley attention, Sparrow will come and sit at my feet, but I walk into her and force her to back up. I do this every time, and she still does it. I've been doing this about 20 times a day every day for about 2 months, and nothing has changed.

    When I'm on the floor (that's where Fairley and I are comfortable) Sparrow will get in my lap. When I do manage to keep her off of me, she's often sitting right next to Fairley and trying to take the treat when I hand it to Fairley. I send her away, and she usually stops doing this. I can handle this part, but I need to teach her that it's not okay to get into my space like that.

    Sparrow doesn't do stay either. I don't know why, but she will learn something and then just stop progressing. I've done everything I can think of from trying different treats to different techniques for the same command. Even when we had her enrolled into an awesome dog training facility, she would just get to a level and stop.
  9. fickla Experienced Member

    Well then something needs to change :) It could help to have a trainer come over and watch what you're doing or even post a video for us to see. Sometimes a slight change in posture or your rate of reinforcement, or something else can make a huge difference.

    As for boundary training, you would first have to teach it to just one dog when the other dog is outside or kenneled so they can't interfere. Work to the point where you can toss treats past their set line or even dump out their food dish and the dog still doesn't break. Only then would I try it while working with a second dog.

    It sounds to me that your dogs might need more practice with impulse control in general before you add in the competition of another dog. Can you sit on the floor with a box of pizza and block the dogs from at least a 3ft radius away from you?

    I think all dogs should learn that staring at the food doesn't get them it. The first game I teach is the "windmill" game where I hold a treat out to the side, dog stares at treat, I wait. Dog looks at me, I click and give them the food. I work to the point where I can move my hand around and they don't stare at it, and even hold the food dish out to the side and they don't stare at it. At that point when I work on training them with their dinner I actually put the food dish on the floor and train. At first I just reward eye contact with me, then being able to walk past the dish, then finally doing other behaviors, all the while I'm grabbing food out of the dish as the reward. I focus on guarding the dish by blocking the dog with my body rather then trying to physically grab the dog away.

    I think if you can get to the point where you can train new tricks with the food dish sitting on the floor, it will be way easier to start training with another dog in the room. The 2nd dog will already have respect for the food dish to know they can't grab it, and will know that staring and mobbing your food hand never works.
  10. laramie Experienced Member

    Right after I posted this, I went outside to work on some stuff with the dogs, and I made a big breakthrough with Sparrow! I kenneled Fairley and worked with Sparrow. She would sit too close to me in the beginning, but then I made her back up before I would give her any attention. And it worked! Now I just have to work on the getting in my lap thing.

    I definitely agree with you on the windmill game. This is one of the attention games we did when I took the dogs to training. It really does teach the dog to focus on you and not the food. Sparrow had a problem with this because my family would feed the dogs from the table(despite my warnings that they would pay for classes if they messed up what I had done). She's nothing like she used to be with food.
    fickla likes this.
  11. Amateur Experienced Member

    I tried the windmill game ( or a version of it) last night and surprisingly the foodie dog did better.
    I guess Border collies just have too much energy, and are looking all around to see what they can do for you.
    Both dogs will "leave it" when I put kibble on the ground and look at me for the click. I'll work on the moving hand bit today.

    Has anyone tried crate games ? Is there anywhere that explains what to do - I get the general concept .. just need some game ideas.
  12. fickla Experienced Member

    Susan Garrett has coined the term crate games and has a dvd on it. I don't remember what's all in the dvd but from my understanding there are 2 basic principles you want the dog to learn.

    1. impulse control- sitting as soon as she touches the crate latch, remaining in the crate until released, even with the door open. No additional cue is needed for the stay or sit, it's implied by the dog simply being in the crate.

    2. drive into and out of the kennel. Dog RACES into the kennel. Dog RACES out of the kennel when released (if you're ate a distance) and is immediately ready to start work. She uses the oppositional reflex by gently holding back on their collar or chest and only releasing when the dog is starting to pull towards the crate. She plays Yer In Yer Out to get really fast sends in and out.
    Amateur likes this.

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