One Dog is Enough Dog For Me

Over the weekend I had another new experience that I can now cross off my list. For the first time, I walked two dogs at once. Rest assured, I am not a natural. Juggling two leashes and two excited mutts is a skill I have yet to develop. I am baffled at how people handle three or four dogs all at the same time without spending the majority of the time on the ground. I had my share of cartoonish moments myself. One arm stretched this way, the other arm yanked the other way, as the two dogs headed off in different directions. It helped that one of the dogs was well-trained. It didn’t help that the other didn’t even know his own name.

By the end of it all, I was exhausted! It really made me question if I could handle life with two dogs. Perhaps it’s a good thing we’re going to be stuck with a fence-less yard for the next ten months. There will be no temptation to introduce more insanity to our already manic household.

Not that I don’t think a second dog would be a lot of fun. I look forward to starting the training process all over again – knowing what I know now. Getting to know a new dog is exciting and I really enjoy the challenge of it. I can’t wait to see Shiva rip around with a canine sibling. I fully expect to tear up a little when she plays tug with another dog for the first time. It’s an experience I really want her to have.

When we’re ready.

The thing is, living with Shiva is a full-time job. Her training is nowhere near complete. After my experience this weekend, I’ve learned it is impossible to train two dogs at once while on a walk. Especially when the two dogs have very different motivations and skill levels. My 90 minutes plus of walking per day would likely turn into 180 minutes. Add to that general training around the house, along with our current agility schedule, not to mention my job… I am not sure I could handle it.

To everyone out there who lives with two, or three, or six dogs, (I am looking at you 24 Paws of Love) I salute you. You have skills of infinite proportion. Maybe one day I’ll learn your secrets. But in the meantime, I think I’ll have another nap.

32 thoughts on “One Dog is Enough Dog For Me

  1. The first year can he hard, but after that it usually settles down. Of course it all depends on what you add to your pack. I like the rule of thumb about adding a dog with a calmer/less energy than the dog you already own, in hopes of not adding too much more work. This was the case with Wyatt, he went through his puppy stage, but being a good lab, he was always going to be a bit calmer than Luna as a puppy. Then the big thing is to make sure at least for the first six months you limit their interaction with eachother so they bond with you well, and you can do one on one training. But I know you know all that. And yes it needs to be when you all are ready, maybe keep taking care of other people’s dogs when you have a chance to kinda break you all into the methods and Shiva too. I used to do that often with Luna as it wore her out to have a playmate at home with her.
    Have a great week
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

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  2. It’s a smart woman who knows her own limits!

    But isn’t it hard to make the responsible, rational choice all the time? Sometimes you just want to head out to the shelter and bring a dog or two home. Or at least I do.

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  3. Good you investigated! We jumped right in and soon cried … help!
    I can recommend the booklet from Patricia McConnell “Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy Your Multi-dog Household” is a great way to start. It is only 50 pages but for you as an experienced dog owner it is just what you need as it shows the direction. It definitely helped us to keep our two Hovawarts (2×90 lbs 🙂 in control.

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  4. It really does depend on the dogs. Barbie, being the lovely and malleable Greyhound that she is, was quite easy to add to the pack. Walking with Barbie became a non-issue when she got over some of her fears. Bender does like to cross behind me after sniffing stuff which means I have to swap leash hands often, but they are pretty good 🙂

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  5. When I first added a second dog many years ago, it was no extra trouble because they got along so well and both were good on the leash. When I started adding foster dogs to those two, three was a bit of extra stress, and the walking was definitely more challenging. Then when I had four, some things were easier because I let the two energetic boys play in the yard while I walked the seniors. But overall….four was definitely too much!

    I join you in saluting those who have welcomed multiple dogs into their lives! And thanks for this post…it helps me to thing through these issues as I contemplate whether to keep fostering, or to just become a foster failure….:)

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  6. I’ll tell you a secret, you’re never going to be done training Shiva, and you’ll never be done training a new dog, either! It’s a constant work in progress. I’ve found that the newer dogs we add generally pick up a lot of skills from the veterans. It makes life much easier! My current record is walking five at once, but at our Greyhound reunion that we attend every year, there’s a family that has twelve! Now that is a feat that I can’t fathom. Our reunion is this Saturday, and I’ll try my darnedest to get a picture!

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  7. I remember the first time time I took Sherman and Leroy for a walk together.
    When we first started out I was terrified, I was like OMG what did I get myself into? How in the world am I going to walk these two and live to tell about it?.
    After a week or two it became a routine and they did great.
    3 years later I am still here and they have only brought me down twice!

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  8. I definitely think two is all I can handle. I did everything opposite of what everyone’s comments recommended. Delilah has more energy than Sampson, I let them be together right away etc… It was a challenge but since Sampson was so well trained, it made her training just a bit easier. I do have to say walking them on leash is challenging. I am one of those people with arms stretched to the max and one dog on each end. 🙂

    If you add a dog that is the same size as Shiva (or a bit smaller) you should be fine. 🙂

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  9. I have three – but I only dare to walk walk one at once – since I am totally skillless with multiple leashes too. The fenced yard definitely helps for exercise too (tug, training, fetch, dog-to-dog play, etc.,).

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  10. I would love to take credit for my handling skills of multiple dogs, but Misty the alpha Poodle tells the dogs what to do and they just follow her lead.

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  11. After my sad experience last month of returning Poppy – I KNOW there won’t be another dog in our house. Maybe when Tibby is old and ready to retire, but it is way too hard to train 2 dogs at once. First I want to have ONE very well trained dog!

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  12. I’m not ready for two permanent dogs. But I have had a foster dog here since the end of May and I pet sit dogs at our house often. But no, I am not ready for two permanent dogs for the reasons you stated. I like to spend a lot of time with each dog, perfecting training, exercising them and so on. It’s hard to work on Cosmo and Ace’s training on a walk because as you said, their needs, motivations and levels of training are so different. So sometimes we walk together and we can’t really work on training. And sometimes I walk them separately which takes more time. And sometimes I’m too busy or tired and I don’t walk them at all. When you have two dogs, you get double the punishment for not taking them for a walk 🙂

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  13. I had a dog walking business and walked multiple dogs at once – it’s always an adventure! The good thing is, at a certain point, the dogs get used to walking together and it usually gets a little easier! (but not always!)

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  14. A woman I met in dog class has 4 Cocker Spaniels. I saw her walking them, all at once, in a very ordered pack on the sidewalk the other day; she was talking on a cellphone! Now, those are well trained dogs! And she loves them :). Always do what is best for you, your PH and Shiva.

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  15. lol, I know exactly what you mean with the tangled leashes – it’s really hard at first! I’ve never felt comfortable walking more than one dog at once, although T has taken all three out before at the same time. Lately we’ve been walking them one at a time though, which is really nice and relaxing.

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  16. I’ve not really had many issues with having two dogs. Sometimes I will take just one dog or the other out (like to the Farmer’s Market, where I want to do stuff non-dog-related too). But, having dogs that are used to walking together makes things a lot easier. Both my dogs chill out at the same time, they play together in the yard, and they entertain each other on off-leash excursions.

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  17. I will admit that one of the hardest things was teaching Oly and Stella to walk on a leash together. I still sometimes have moments where they tangle me up and make me feel like I’m staring in my own cartoon.

    But, with patience and practice we figured it out, and now we’re double dog walking champs. Plus, having two means they wear each other out. And a calmer Oly is worth the double walking issues and the double shedding. Any day!

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  18. Great post. We think about adopting another all the time. But putting Kelly first, keep rethinking the idea. I feel when it’s really really right, we won’t be able to say NO. I am also kind of with you on the nap thing.

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  19. Kristine, you just crack me up!! BOL!! You mean you didn’t have a good time walking two crazy dogs?? It’s a well developed skill keeping all your sockets and joints in the same place, isn’t it? Hence, why we walk one dog at a time. 🙂

    I used to be able to walk Brut and Silver together and not even think about it, until the loose dogs in the neighborhood made me realize I was not Superwoman!

    And believe me, I enjoy and envy the whole it’s -just- Shiva- and- me- thing. Look at all you get to do with her, because you just get to focus on her. There have been many days along the way where I have missed having just one or two dogs. (sigh)

    And just a quick note about your last post and counter surfing, I did it with Chance and Blaze and they were quite the masters. Just using “leave it” and some of the same techniques that the video used. If I can do it, you and Shiva can too. So Pfftttt!

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  20. Our dogs are all crazy and mellow in different ways – it kind of balances itself out. But yeah – 3 dog walks have not happened yet and I shudder at the thought of that experience. It’ll come but not til Hurley’s way better trained.

    The up-side is that the dogs tire each other out a lot and that takes some of the pressure of non-stop games of fetch from my shoulders.

    When and if it’s right, you’ll know. Maybe an mellow elderpup?

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  21. I think it helps to have at least one dog who is fairly calm and easy- Kayloo is often a pain in the butt, Mickey is a rockstar (& small so he is not strong enough to drag me to half rotting apple cores).

    The most important thing is to be comfortable- after walking 2 dogs every day it really is quite lovely just walking one pup when it comes up 🙂

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  22. I had two crazy foster dogs at once– you couldn’t walk either, never mind both at the same time. And when I was babysitting Blackie and Duke, I took them all to the park and walked each around the block separately. I didn’t trust myself to walk two at once. (Anyone curious about the experience can read the link!)

    I have no idea what Our Best Friend would do if I tried to hold two leashes at once. An experiment for the future!

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  23. The two dog walking thing is so hard. I don’t know how I started doing it, but it’s still really hard. All I know, is we will never be able to have 3 dogs. We experience this with our foster, and I actually have to take completely separate walks.

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  24. It definitely depends on the dog … but at the same time, I kind of feel like you are maybe the kind of person who really relishes a challenge. So maybe you would be bored with a dog that was “easier” than Shiva is.

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  25. I totally get it!! As a dog walker I walk between 8 and 12 dogs (off leash) and its super fun ( see the blog photos) BUT at the end of the day I LOVE getting to cuddle with my one and only! I do THINK about another beast but its a great feeling to be able to focus and work with Mokey and I cherish that time together. We both get our fill of bouncy love during the day with the rest of the pack. I KNOW that any time I want another dog in the house someone will gladly pass one over for some free dog sitting.
    YEAH for ONE DOG!

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  26. I second Houndstooth’s comment – the training is never over. And, not to discourage you, but a new personality in the house is not just the new set of issues that come with the new dog – it’s also the new quirks that the already-family dogs develop in response to the shifting dynamic. That said, we recently brought a third dog into our family and while it can be *exhausting,* for sure, it’s also amazing to see them all grow, mature, sometimes regress and become more rounded individually as they learn from each other. I wouldn’t change it for a minute (most days!).

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  27. I am insane, and therefore, should not be included in the salute. I was so dumb that I got two puppies and expected them to walk like perfect cherubs on a coupler lead. Hello.

    The trick for a novice, I believe, is not knowingly taking on two high-energy pullers – unless you like having blisters and scabs. Jon Farleigh (who I had for three months before Dewi) is great at heeling, so walking both him and Dewi (the 12-inch bull), is not as horrible as it could be. Let’s just say I’d do it all over again without a second thought. 🙂 (Can’t wait until you get a fence.) 🙂

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  28. LOL, when we had one, I couldn’t imagine finding time for two, but we did it, because Felix needed another dog to show him the way.it was definitely tough, especially at first, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, for the right dog, I might consider making it three. I figure I’ll know when it’s time because I won’t be able to say no to that dog.

    And you never know, having Kol here has mellowed Felix so very much. The wear each other out – which is fab. Although, let’s be fair – my two combined probably weigh half as much as Shiva!

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