Training turmoil

June 11th, 2013

Dear Dogs Life,

Do you have any tips for training a second dog? We have two: we got our Beagle, Nes, about eight months prior to our new dog, Holly. Nes knows all her tricks so, when I try to train Holly, Nes is right there wanting treats for doing the tricks she already knows and distracting Holly. We have tried tying Nes up and training Holly out of Nes’ sight, but Nes howls and sooks and Holly gets distracted and runs to Nes. The other problem is that Holly is distracted very easily and once got out of the yard. She has no attention span for training because she is so distracted by everything else going on.

– Amy Mason, via Facebook

Karin Larsen Bridge says: You’re on the right track with separating the dogs to train them, but rather than tying one up, I would actually have them in different rooms so they can’t see or even hear what is going on. It’s great if each dog is keen to have a “turn” in the training room — that’s exactly what you want!

You don’t say how old Holly is, but it sounds as though she is younger than Nes. If she is under 18 months of age she is going to be more easily distracted than an older dog, so be patient — attention and focus are skills she has to learn just like any others. Make sure you reward Holly for responding to her name in lots of different places and situations, not just when training tricks.

Often second dogs become very attached to the first dog and just follow the older rather than responding to signals from you. This is another reason why it is so important to separate them from time to time and spend special one-on-one training sessions with each. This will enhance not only your control over both dogs, but your relationship with each as well.

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