Working With Multiple Agility Dogs

using sibling rivalry in trainingSo many dog agility homes start off with one dog and as the agility bug takes hold they find themselves with multiple agility dogs.  With the addition of new dogs or for those that started two dogs at the same time, you find yourself in the midst of trying to give everyone their fair share of training and attention.  For some dogs your full attention is all they will settle for and will do anything to make sure your focus is solely on them.

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!

So how do you deal with this doggie sibling rivalry while maintaining your own sanity?  Well, we had a few viewers share their ideas on how to keep the family functional.  But first there has to be some ground rules in place to keep your sanity in check.  All your dogs must be confined so you can put your entire attention on the dog you are working.  You can either teach your dogs a down stay on a bed or the table or you can put them in an xpen, crate or house.

Then you have to watch yourself and work with each dog in a rotation of about 2-5 minutes.  The “jealousy” built up watching you work with the other dog is a powerful motivator.  A side bonus is that some dogs actually learn by watching another dog work.  Most agreed that you can use the jealousy created by working one dog while the other watches to your advantage.

If you find the “waiting” dog spends the entire time a complete and utter distraction then you may need to work on impulse control and crate training before having them in view of the training area.  You can also use the confined area as a “cool off” spot if the dog you are working gets too silly, overly distracted or unconnected on course.

You can also use the “sibling rivalry” to your advantage in training by playing games with your dogs together.  One game is give a command and the first dog to complete the command gets the treat.  It will quickly become a game of who can complete the command first.  If they all are prompt they all get a treat.  Another game a viewer shared is to give a command with one dog’s name such as Butch, Sit.   If he listens he gets the treat.  If another dog completes the request you can tell him it’s not his turn, but then he is the next one you call upon to complete a different command.  It doesn’t take them long to both listen for their name and to learn to wait for their turn.

How do you use sibling rivalry to your advantage when training your dogs?  Just scroll down to the comments area and tell us how you get the most out of having multiple dogs to work.