Need some advice
Koda and Sky walk OK individually but put them together and it’s a nightmare, both competing for front position. Its now not pleasurable to take both dogs out on my own. They do settle after about half an hour, by which point I have 2 red wrists and a bad back.
To take out treats ties me up in knots.
This is a great question and one that I think troubles a fair few multi-dog owners.
As ever, we have a few different ways of looking for a solution to the problem presented to us. It’s not really a problem we can distract the dogs from doing, so really we’re looking at fixing it through some sort of training or managing it with the use of some sort of training aid.
So here we have two management options – stop walking the dogs together (which isn’t always practical in a busy household), or use some sort of training aid when walking the dogs together.
First off it’s worth remembering that whatever we practice doing we get good at. So whilst we may well want to fix the problem through training in the longer term, in the short-term management is a good option as it will stop the dogs practicing pulling on the lead together.
With two dogs I think the best option it to use head collars, as whilst I’m a big fan of harnesses with two connection points (one lead attached to the chest and the other to the shoulders at the same time), this would be rather a lot of leads in your hand all at once.
My favourite head collars for a comfortable, and strong fit for the dog are the Dogmatic range. Here’s a short video clip from their website of 3 strong, large dogs being walked together.
I would spend some time training each dog to wear the head collar before using it on a walk. Simple games such as luring them to pop their noses through the nose loop to begin with, then gently pulling back on it as you continue to feed so they become accustomed to slight pressure on their faces. Wearing them just before eating breakfast or dinner, that sort of thing.
Then I would start doing some short training walks together – possibly beginning in the garden rather going outside the house at all. If they can walk nicely in their head collars then I would use their favourite rewards to thank them – you might find an open bum bag is the perfect aid to your problems with treats tying you up in knots 🙂
You might also find that either fashioning your own, or purchasing a hands free lead and belt makes life a bit easier. I own this one below, but on a quick Amazon search there were several different options and some nice colours 🙂
Once you’ve started off nicely, I would keep an eye on who’s behaving because they have to (i.e. the head collar is causing the good behaviour rather than them volunteering it) and who’s started to walk nicely on the lead.
I quite often struggle with Jade my youngest collie when we are heading out for a walk with the other dogs – she’s desperate to get going and off the lead as soon as possible. So to avoid us falling out she wears her head collar to go out for the walk and then on the way back, she wears the head collar but I attach her lead to her collar rather than the head collar.
If she can walk nicely then I look to remove the head collar. If she is still a bit over-aroused and not thinking, then I have the option to reattach the lead to her head collar.
But I am also conscious that I haven’t done nearly so much lead work with her as I would like, and that her behaviour is unfortunately a result of me not investing the time and not her being naughty and wilful. Until I look to resolve that by making it my focus, it will remain a situation that I am managing rather than resolving through training.
I mention that simply for anyone reading who is struggling with a lead pulling issue and feeling frustrated and upset (which is perfectly understandable!), but just to remind you that you shouldn’t take it personally and your dog is not actively seeking to annoy you