If  Quick doesn’t understand the first or second time I ask him to do something, he gets upset. He’ll offer me any behavior he can, in hopes that’s what I’m asking for. He lies down, and offers his paws, and tries again and again and again!  On course, he will chase his tail, or run up and down a contact, through a tunnel.  He’s offering things to make me happy because he’s nervous that I am not happy- I must not be, he isn’t getting his party and treats!  What does he need to do to get his party???

I feel badly when I’m telling his big sister Nova to do something, and he’s doing it for her and goes unnoticed. However, we’re working on him learning that unless he hears his name, the command is not for him!

How do other multiple dog handlers work out sibling challenges? This is my first time having two dogs, and I’m curious about others’ methods for dealing with double the trouble and double the fun.

7 Comments on “Incomprehensible

  1. The first thing congratulations on having a dog that is eager and wanting to please. It makes him easier to shape a behavior. I run multiple terriers and only have on dog like this.

    I have worked multiple dogs in agility rally and earth dog for years. Currently my husband and I are working 6 Westies and until last August when my Cairn Terrier died worked 7 dogs. When working one the others are either in the house, or at class in a ex pen or crate. They need to know that each one gets a chance and that my attention will be fully on the dog I am working. I also play a game with them when I have all of their attention in a group had have some treats. I say one of their names and give a command, like Leo down. If he listens he gets a treat. If another dog responds to the command I say not your turn and they don’t get a treat. I will often go to that dog that gave me the response next and ask for a behavior and so on.. It doesn’t take them long to both listen for their name and to learn to wait for their turn.

    Hope this helps

  2. I have a four year old dog that was a hard charger that I agility with and he was diagnosed with a haeart condition and had to stop agility. The dog I am now working with is a re-homed boy who gates the field rather than run. They r the same breed but r as different as night and day
    However they r very competitve. I do see the younger boy mimic behavior of the older dog, so I wish I could use it to get the younger dog to run.

  3. I totally agree with Kim’s response. By using the default table. What a better way to work on impulse control !
    I also use the crates. If one of my dogs loses focus or are just being silly , I calmly put that dog in the crate and take my other dog out to play…This teaches the
    mis behaving dog that there are consequences to their taking obstacles on their own or just acting silly.

    Good Luck

  4. Some folks teach a default table stay and that is where the non-working dog waits while the handler works with another dog. It’s simliar to crating the non-working dog, only they have to decide to stay themselves. A great self-control/impulse exercise too. I crate my dogs or use a down-stay on a mat or bed. I switch back and forth between the 2 dogs every 5 minutes or so. Works great and the mild jealously it creates keeps both dogs very interested in working with me when it’s their turn 🙂

  5. I have 4 dogs; 3 that have done agility. Each dog is different in their attention to me and energy levels. Attempting to work with all of them at once is just a big romp and play with the oldest always getting involved (even though she does not actively do agility due to a heart defect). Each one competes with the others to prove ability and seek reward from me. My youngest definitely needs one-on-one time. She watches the older 2 and I really think that helps as well, but the one-on-one works best for her.

  6. I’m not a trainer but I just recently adopted a 2nd dog for the first time. Quick’s behavior sounds classic for when he gets stressed he starts offering other behaviors to appease you. You might want to check out the Control Unleashed books by Leslie McDevitt. It sounds like he has the beginnings of a “default” behavior (lie down) and work with that when he gets confused. You may also need to look at your own behavior to determine what signals you are giving him that cause him to stress .. perhaps you are acting upset or he is perceiving your frustration as that. Perhaps if he gets frustrated on the 3rd try – stop at the 2nd try and break it down, back up, etc.

    For 2 dogs – what I have seen is you need to restrain one while you work the other (leash, crate, inside the house/car, stay position). You can trade off – work for 5 min then switch for the other dog. Trainers I’ve talked to say the sibling rivalry works in your favor that the dog will show more drive and willingness to work. If he gets distracted or doesn’t want to work – you just put them up and grab the other dog. I have definitely seen this work with mine.

    • Lisa- I will definitely check that out for Quick- he is a high stress dog, you’re right! I don’t get frustrated with him easily. He’s not actually frustrating to me, oddly enough, even when he is offering me everything and its’ mother. He’s very endearing, I’ve never had a dog that really wanted to please me so much! I just want to help him learn how to get his treats- I should have phrased ‘not happy’ better, sorry! He doesn’t get his party until he does what I’m looking for. 🙂 Trade-off in crates, I’ll have to do that- thanks! 🙂

      Lila- Thanks! LOL yes, to the working all at once, I’ve discovered that as well. I can only do that when the foodbowls are out.

      Thank you so much!