Two dogs training at same time

Posted by Kay-Reed
Dec 29, 2007
I have two dogs out of the same litter. I made the mistake of not training them when they were puppies and now I have a mess. They will be one year old next month. They are part border collie and both weigh about 55 and 65 pounds. I have managed to get one to sit but not the other. I have to get them trained on a leash so its easier to go to the vets. They have a fit if I try to separate them and getting just one through the gate without the other is almost impossible. Any suggestions would be very helpful as I am home all the time now and work with them everyday. They are just so full of energy it is very hard to control them. I have learned to ignore them and it has helped with the jumping up on me as their nails really can do some damage to my hands and arms. I love them very much and will not get rid of one and I have to help for training.
Posted by Todd
Jan 2, 2008
Hi there Kay

Thank you for your email. It sounds like your dogs are having a bit of fun at your expense

The most important thing in this circumstance is the basic alpha dog status training. I would encourage you and anyone else in the household to read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-

1) If you come across your dogs while they are sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making them move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dogs around the house on the leash, making your dogs wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that your dogs eat after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet your dogs straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

The best way to train dogs in your situation is to train them separately. This will avoid over excitement, distraction and frustration for you. I would suggest caging one of the dogs and taking the other to a quiet secluded area away from the sight of the other.
Work on the basic commands of sit, stay and come as outlined in SitStayFetch. I recommend 10 minutes twice a day for basic training but you can repeat train more often in the day. I don't recommend going longer than 10 minutes to start with as most dogs will become distracted.
make sure the dog is focussed on you, if at any stage he/she is misbehaving give a sit command.
The trick to training is the mixed reprimand and reward method. When the dog is doing something right reward them, this may be by praise, attention and petting. When they don't behave you must reprimand them immediately so they know exactly what they have done wrong. Use a loud AHHHHh or GRRRR to tell them off and then give them the command again. If they respond praise them, if not reprimand.
Don't keep repeating commands without them responding as this will only make things worse.

After 2 weeks of focussed individual training i would recommend walking them individually. On these walks again focus on obedience making them sit and stay regularly. The more exercise a dog has the less energy they have to misbehave

After another week of this it is time to try and get them to behave together. The way to do this is to have both dogs on their leads about 5 metres apart. focus on one dog at a time going through the commands. Not foccussing or not following insttructions must be reprimanded, whether this be the dog you are focussing on or the one waiting. Slowly go between dogs doing this.
Every day get the dogs to sit closer together and repeat. Finally get the dogs to sit side by side. Remember to reward and reprimand, and the right dog.

These types of dogs are very intelligent and have heaps of energy. Often an increase in exercise will help. A good idea once they are more obedient is to take them to agility classes. This is a great time for them to burn off some energy, to use their brains and to be with you.

The second half of this training will require another person. If you are happy with the other person you can work on commands with both dogs at the same time, but commands for each dog must come from their respective handler. Otherwise they will get confused and frustrated.

Remember to reprimand when they are not behaving, ignoring will only work on a submissive dog. Having the dogs separated and having someone else there to help is very important.

As for the lead problem here is some quick advice that may help (more is in SitStayFetch). Puppys and Leashes

1. I would begin by exposing your dogs to the leash in a non-threatening (for it) situation. Leave the leash out in your dogs play area so that they get used to the sight and smell of the leash, only do this when you are present. Depending on how badly your dogs are reacting you may have to leave the leash on the outskirts of their area for a start and build up over a couple of weeks to the point that you can approach with the leash in your hand. Do not attempt to put the leash on your dog unless it is 100% relaxed about the deal.

2. You will have to be on the lookout for when your dogs are showing non-fearful or no over excited behavior towards the leash. Reward your dogs with praise and perhaps treats.

3. Try teaching your dogs a few commands without the leash, particularly sit and stay, which you should be able to do just as effectively without a leash. Once your dogs have a grasp of these commands and can stay for 4 or 5 minutes then introduce the leash to them (preferably one dog at a time while the other is not present). Praise your dogs for performing the commands while you have the leash in your hands. Again, do not attempt to put it on the dog unless it is 100% relaxed about it. The idea behind this exercise is that your dog will form a positive association with the leash due to being rewarded for fulfilling the commands while the leash is in its presence.

There are several things not to do, as they may well increase your dogs poor respoonse to the leash.

1. Do not punish your dog for reacting poorly to the leash.

2. Do not inadvertantly reward your dogs behavior either. Do not reassure your dog or give it treats, just behave normally and ignore your dog as if you do not notice its fearfulness.

3. Do not force the leash upon your dog.

I am sure with patience and time that you will have good success with both dogs. Don't give up and please let me know of any success you have

Kind Regards

Todd Field
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 4, 2008
Hi Kay!

I meant to reply to your posting sooner but I was on a trip and came back yesterday.

I am glad that Todd responded to you and I agree with him about training your dogs separately. In addition to what he wrote, I would suggest you to take each dog to a basic training class, if it is available in your area. Going out with one dog at a time is a great time for you to focus the dog and it will help establish YOU and THE DOG's relationship and bonding. When you have 2 dogs from the same litter, the dogs are closer to each other than with you. This is a problem. If you want your dogs to respond to you, you will have to make yourself as the leader.

Also, as Todd said, if I were you I would take the dogs to walk separately. It will be a great opportunity to train each to walk nicely and have fun with just YOU! You can also go to an errand with one dog at a time.

I also have 2 border collie mixes that we adopted separately. Holly 3 years ago and Noah 1 year ago. By the time, Noah came to our house, Holly already had passed Canine Good Citizen test. I didn't have to train Noah any basic commands because he learned them by just looking at Holly. Noah just finished the advance training class and I am taking agility 2 classes with Holly. It is a lot of fun!

As Todd said Border collies are very smart but it will be too much to train them if they are not getting both physical and mental challenges every day.

The first thing I would like you to teach your dogs is to pay attention to YOU. You can teach this quite easily, as long as you train one dog at a time.

Have your dog sit and show a treat right in front of your nose saying "Watch me". If your dog looks at you, give the treat. Repeat this 10 times. Make sure the morsels are not big because you don't want to overfeed them. Border collies should be fit.

Border collies are working dogs. They like to work hard and to be acknowledged so with a right kind of training they will learn pretty fast. Please be sure to be consistent and give the training every single day, even for a 5 minutes training.

Hope you will enjoy training your dogs. I think it will be very rewarding