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Q: Training Multiple Dogs ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Training Multiple Dogs
Category: Family and Home
Asked by: ajaxmarathon-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 11 Dec 2005 13:09 PST
Expires: 10 Jan 2006 13:09 PST
Question ID: 604468
I have two 3 yr old labrador mixes. I want to train them, but am
having trouble finding information specifically on how one person
should go about training two dogs. Everything I have read online and
in books seems designed for training just one dog. Am I supposed to
separate them for training?  I?ll add a $10 tip if your answer is
Subject: Re: Training Multiple Dogs
Answered By: tlspiegel-ga on 11 Dec 2005 14:03 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi ajaxmarathon,

Thank you for your interesting question.  

Multiple Dogs

"I do quite a bit of multi-dog work--I have five dogs presently, and used to
have six, so I had to become an expert or else! I'll describe a couple good
exercises for you to try. And once you understand the basic concepts behind
each exercise, you can probably make up variations of your own.

1) First, think of your dogs as individuals who each have an individual
relationship with you and with each of the other dogs. Forget the "pack"
and "Dominance" stuff because these ideas will not help you. Whether they
are correct paradigms or not, these ideas are irrelevant to the training
your dogs need. Nothing that you would do in CT has anything to do with
hierarchy. Think in terms of four individuals to start with.

2) If you don't already, always use the dog's name before every command
when you address one dog. "Fido, Sit." "Buffy, Stay." Make this a
consistent habit.

3) In situations like your backyard brawl, use the mayhem as a training
opportunity. In advanced training, we add distractions to "proof" the dogs.
Well, lucky you! You already have the distraction part working! Now think
of the following training game as a competition among your dogs to see who
obeys the best. 

Select one dog, concentrate your attention on it, (ignore all the others as
they assault you and bounce off the gate) and tell that one animal firmly,
clearly, but in a friendly voice to Sit. "Buffy, Sit!" Look right at the
dog, and give it five seconds to comply. Continue your eye contact even if
the dog is not looking at you. If the dog does not sit in the allotted
time, turn immediately to another dog and repeat: "Fido, Sit." Five seconds
of eye contact... If the dog sits, immediately click & treat only THAT dog.
As you treat, give some verbal praise, too. Lay it on: "Good girl!
Wonderful..." Pay no attention to the others."

[continue reading article]

"Training the group does NOT mean that you can teach a new command or skill
to all four at once. What it means is that you can teach the group of four
to function as a group of four rather than individually. You would not
train the group to perform a particular behavior until you have
individually trained all four individuals to do it alone. So you wouldn't
be able to save training time by trying to teach a recall for the first
time to all four dogs at once. You will, however, gain much better control
over all your dogs by teaching them to obey the same command simultaneously."



"Human cues are crucial for dogs we live with because the dogs read us
anyway, and look to us for cues. So, we're best off understanding
something about how we are cueing our dogs.

It takes time to learn how we do this; what we have to do is, notice
the dog and exactly what it is doing - and, much more difficult,
notice OURSELVES, and exactly what it is WE are doing - and finally,
to associate what the dog does in response to our cues.

Of course, this gets much more complex as soon as we add a second dog,
because then, we have TWO dogs to watch as well as ourselves."


Two games to play when your dogs are playing together (gently, not excited) are: 

Check-in From Play 

Devise a word that means: "All Dogs of Mine" (Carol uses the word "Key-All") 
Interrupt the dogs as they are playing (as long as they're not
excited) by saying your "word". Example: "Key-All, Check-in!"
The dogs must come, sit in front of you. As soon as they have sat,
click (mark the event), [see CREATIVE CLICKING] and treat both of
them. Then release them to go back and play. (Carol uses her separate
release word and adds "Go Play".

"You need to teach the elements of this to each dog separately -
interrupt the dog's quiet play with "Charlie, Check-in!" (after you've
taught him what check-in means). The dog's job is to come to you. You
need not require the sit at first - add that by also teaching it
separately. Do the same for all the dogs.

So, to TEACH these cues in the beginning, separate the dogs, so only
one can interact with you at a time; the dog has YOUR attention, and
you have its. You can pen the non-working dog where it can watch. At
first, the non-working dog gets VERY excited and upset, and is noisy.
Reward the penned dog for being quiet. It isn't long (especially if
you keep the training sessions REALLY short), before the penned dog
learns its turn is coming, and quiets easily, watching.

Once both dogs have the idea, you can start interrupting their play:
"All Dogs of Mine, Check-In!" (Only require the sit if each has really
learned to sit - taught separately.)"


The second game is: "One for Charlie, and one for Sam" 

There are endless possibilities for variation on this game. It's a
good game to help dogs adjust to each other, to help them become
confident that each has a full place in your heart - and to help them
maintain self-control around each other.

The effect on bonding between your dogs can also be considerable,
especially when you add the mechanical sound of a clicker, and its
associated survival instinct gratifier - treats - to the ingredients.
(Research shows that the click-sound gets into the emotional center of
the dog's brain - as does the food- and the dog earns the food with
its behavior, in the situations described here.)

(continue reading the article, then click on Targeting

"The reason clicker-trainers teach "touch" or "target" is, the skill
has millions of uses - you can go just about anywhere with a dog who
knows how to target something.

If you work on targeting, again, train the dogs separately first.
Teach the dog to touch your fist, or little finger, or open palm, with
its nose. Then try other targets (keeping in mind the size of your
dog). The dogs (individually) quickly catch on to touch the object;
then they get a click and a treat for touching. Try to click exactly
as the dog touches the object.

Once they've learned "Touch," work with the dogs in front of you at
once. First say the name of one dog: "Charlie. Touch." He touches, and
gets his click/treat. The other dog has to wait. (See the relationship
with the "One for Charlie. One for Sam." game?) Then say; "Sam.
Touch." He touches, gets his click/treat. Now it's Charlie's turn
again. Put all kinds of variations into this game. Both dogs learn to
be attentive, to wait their turns, to know which dog you're working
with (just for an instant each)."


Clicker Solutions Training Articles

Advice for Beginners 

"Four of my dogs are rescues, and two are ten month old pups right
now. The pups began clicker training at 8 weeks, as soon as they

Here's some basic clicker suggestions:

1.  Definitely train one dog at a time in isolation. However, if you
can manage to put in a long enough time, if you do the dogs one after
the other, you will find they will become very excited and anxious to
be trained. ("I want to be next!!!") If you do this, vary the order
each day. (I'll bet you've seen this already!)
2.  Stick to short sessions of no more than ten minutes. For a pup,
five is good. Then try to do two or three sessions a day of you can.

3.  If both you and your husband are going to be training: 
-  It is usually preferable for ONE person to train a particluar
activity first in a dog, and not share the training. So if you train
Rex to Sit and Stay, YOU should continue that training until Rex
really has it down and the command has been attached. Then your
husband can start trying the Sit and Stay with Rex. It is sometimes
confusing if two people try to train the same activity with the same
dog during the same period of time. Since you have so many, maybe you
could divide them up between the two of you, then switch groups every
few weeks?

-  If two people are training the same dog--even if not in the same
activity--make sure the two of you get together and agree and rehearse
your training habits. You both want to do everything as similarly as
possible. If you husband says, "Come!" in a loud voice, and you say it
in a quiet voice, confusion! If you use a hand signal when you say
"Sit" and your husband uses a different one, confusion! (And most
people use hand signals and body language unconsciously! Watch
yourself in the mirror sometimes when you train!) So get your signals,
words, and movements coordinated.

4.  One of the problems many new clicker trainers encounter after a
short while is overfed dogs! You can deal with this (assuming you are
using mostly food treats as rewards) in several ways:

(read 4 different ways to deal with limiting food treats)


"5.  Train all the dogs for ATTENTION. The most important skill you
will ever teach them!
-  Hold the clicker in one hand and a food treat in the other while
kneeling or sitting in front of the sitting dog.

-  Raise both arms straight out to your sides, so the clicker and
treat are on opposite sides, at about shoulder height, as far as you
can reach away from your body.

-  Now, wait for the dog to look at YOU! To get the treat, the dog
must glance at your face, if ever so briefly. As soon as it does,
click and give it the treat in that other hand. Repeat at least 10
times per session.
-  If the dog goes for the treat, or offers any unwanted behavior,
ignore it. Just put enough effort in to keep the treat away from the
dog. (Raise the arm.) Ignore everything except looking at your face.
The split second you get a glance, click and treat.

This exercise trains the dog to pay attention to you. It counteracts
the notion that the food reward is the important thing and shows that
YOU are the key to the reward. So it deemphasizes the reinforcer and
emphasizes you as the master. If done day after day, the dog will
develop an automatic reflex to look at you the second you call its
name. (When begun with pups, it can become a dramatic life-long
response--they will literally SNAP their necks toward you every time
you say their names!)"


"6.  With multiple dogs, you will soon find out that some pick up
certain skills much faster than others. Rather than chart a program
that you will follow with all the dogs, be observant of their
differences. One dog may master the first five behaviors in one week
and never need to be trained again, while another will need endless
repetiton for months! Go with the dog's talents, and do not bore
fast-learners by needlessly repeating exercises they already have
mastered. Instead, add some difficulty to the exercise. (Like master
the one minute sit-stay with you five feet away, then go for a two
minute sit-stay with you sitting in a chair ten feet away!)

7.  The most important principle: The dog should always have more
successes than failures. The dog should always end a session on a
success. So if you find a dog goofing up a lot, go back to a simpler
exercise that it can easily do to boost its confidence. Never allow
many successive failures in a row! Whatever you may be training, your
main goal is always to have the dog succeeding most of the time!"


More on clicker training can be found at the following links:


WORKING WITH A GROUP ~ Yes, it can be done!

"Initial training occurs one-on-one. Once the animals each understand
the cues working alone with distractions, they can be worked in pairs,
and eventually as a whole group together.

It is important that the animals recognize their names and clearly
understand cue discrimination, as the first challenge for the trainer
is to explain that the cue is only for you, if your name came before

This is a complex skill and the ultimate in "listen and follow directions!"

========= - Clicker+

A friend of mine uses this clicker with her many dogs.

"You?ll also find it much easier to train multiple animals when they
each have a distinct marker signal. For example, each of your dogs can
have their own sound and know when you are working with them only.
When you are shaping a new behavior you can take the dogs out to train
with their marker signal individually. It?s easy to teach a dog what
their new marker signal is: pair the new sound with three or four
treats and you? re ready to go. You can also still use the traditional
click sound as a universal marker. So you can click your whole group
of dogs?say for following you back into the kennel or being quiet?or
just an individual dog."

Frequently Asked Questions

The Clicker+ is the first clicker to provide people digitally produced
sound , multiple?click?sounds, and two volume settings . The Clicker+
also features a unique Faststrap system that provides you instant
access to your clicker.
Are digitally produced sounds important? 
Are the additional new click sounds of the Clicker+ just as effective
as the traditional?click??
When do I use the indoor outdoor/volume settings? 
Why does the Clicker+ feature additional sounds as?clicks?? 
How do I hold the Clicker+? 
Can the Clicker+?improve how I teach others? 


keyword search:

training multiple dogs
clicker training multiple dogs
how to train group of dogs


Good Luck to you!
ajaxmarathon-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Fantastic!  The materials were very helpful and easy to understand.

Subject: Re: Training Multiple Dogs
From: tlspiegel-ga on 12 Dec 2005 14:11 PST
Hi ajaxmarathon,,

Thank you for the 5 star rating, comments, and very generous tip!  :)

Best regards,

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