A Multi-Dog Household

Help them learn how to live harmoniously together

Whenever there is more than one dog in a household, it is vital to train each individually and collectively as a unit. Consistent practice, clear rules, boundaries, calculated use of management, and identifying high value rewards will assist you in bringing order to your rowdy bunch. Here’s a look into what skills your dogs should master in order to harmoniously live together.

Control behaviors

Teaching control behaviors such as name recognition, leave it, and wait will help in managing daily activities. Tension and conflict can escalate during feedings, when visitors come over,

when getting ready for a walk, and/or around valued items such as toys and bones. By teaching control, it will help your dogs know what to expect and how to interact in high stress interactions.

Obedience and manners

Once your canine masters commands such as sit, down, come, and stay, you will notice how smoothly things will go throughout any given day. Pets can be taught to be polite when seeking attention, snacks, access to the outdoors, and when greeting visitors. Identifying valuable life rewards such as belly rubs, petting, attention, access to the outside, sniffing, and play will be helpful tools when food rewards are not immediately accessible. This will also help minimize competition for pets who are competitive around treats.

Pack compliance

Each dog in the group needs to learn an “everybody” cue. This will allow you to engage all your pets promptly at the same time. When the cue word is said all dogs should provide eye contact and be focused on the handler. Some words commonly used by owners include: dogs, boys, girls, and pups. Try using the collective command when you are working with your pack on group sits, downs, stays, waits, and recalls.

Once the dogs respond to the training, begin rewarding them when they comply, even if it is one dog and not another. In most cases a bit of competition can motivate other dogs to perform faster and better. If one dog’s performance is subpar, evaluate the situation and figure out if it’s due to a lack of skill, competition for reward around the other dogs, or no motivation.

Management is your friend

Use management tools such as baby gates, crates, exercise pens, leashes, and separate rooms when you are unable to work on control and integration. It is especially important to use these tools when working with individual dogs with special needs, so they get your undivided attention. Once dogs are better mannered and integrated into the routine of the household you can slowly increase their freedom.

Offered behavior

Make an effort to reward behavior that was not commanded such as settling down, avoiding conflict, controlling impulses, responding to subtle cues from other dogs, and so forth. The more you reward your dogs for making good decisions without a human command, the more likely they will make good behavior decisions.

Remember by managing triggers, preventing overstimulation, and practicing basic control behaviors you will help your multi-dog life run more smoothly.  


Charlotte Wagner Harvey
About Charlotte Wagner Harvey 21 Articles
Charlotte Wagner Harvey holds a Bachelors of Science with honors in Animal Management from the University of Essex with a special interest in behavior. As a dog trainer and the owner of K9ology in Warrenton, she helps dog owners and dogs find common ground to establish a peaceful life together. Her core tenets: there are no shortcuts, it is hard, and do it right or don’t do it at all. She lives in Rappahannock County with her husband and a farm full of animals including horses, chickens, cats, and, of course, dogs.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.