I have three dogs, all medium-sized crossbreeds, aged 11 years, three years, and six months old. When I try to walk all three together, it is total mayhem – there’s always one of them desperately pulling to be in the lead, while the other two are going in opposite directions! What’s the best thing to do to get them to walk nicely?
Denise Price advises…
It sounds as if you have your hands full! Often, a trainer’s advice is to train each dog individually and I tend to agree with this. Each dog needs to learn how to walk on a loose lead and to give their focus when you ask for it.
You also have three different aged dogs in your group, so they require different levels of exercise. Your six-month-old puppy, for example, should still be getting shorter walks (around 30 minutes per session). Your three-year-old dog probably requires more physical exercise, and perhaps your 11-year old needs to take it easy some days. So, to a certain extent, walking all three together will be limited to those shorter walks. Longer walks can be reserved for your three-year-old dog on his own.
Without meeting your trio, I can’t tell if all three dogs are difficult on the lead – if it’s one main ‘offender’, or if it’s just when they’re together that it becomes unmanageable. Let’s assume all three dogs need some guidance on walking nicely on the lead. If time were abundant, then your training plan would include sessions with each individual dog and once they were independently reliable, you would introduce another dog into the mix as a distraction, alternating who made up the duo. The final stage would be to walk all three together.
In reality, most people with multi-dog households don’t have time for individual walks and training sessions for each dog in turn every day. Individual training sessions with each dog is a must, but it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve. Perhaps three walks are out of the question, but two are manageable.
For busy multi-dog owners, I usually advise a rota – invest time in one dog’s training on one day and take the other two out on a normal walk. The next day, your second dog gets the private session and on the third day, your third dog does. When you’re walking the duo, it will become easier to manage them on the lead and you should be able to get a little bit of focus work done. A rota will ensure that every dog gets his own special time bonding with you, which is so important in resolving problems like these.