I am a lazy trainer.
This is perhaps my least favorite attribute of myself as a dog owner. Now that we have two, I’m finding it even harder to make time to work with the girls on new behaviors. Since the nipping incident,* our commitment to working on P’s classical conditioning protocol for reactivity has been strongly renewed, and that has been encouraging and motivating. But everything else? Eh. Not much progress.
We tell people all the time, “Oh, Eden is SO smart,” and then they say, “Really? What can she do?” Umm… she can sit… and maul you at the front door when you come in? Oh, yeah, and she’s also really good at digging giant holes in the backyard… Yeah. Definite second-dog syndrome sufferer.
(*Side note: Thank you all for your gracious and kind comments about the nipping incident. You were honest with me about the difficulties we’ll continue to face with Pyrrha and children, but also encouraging that this is something we can continue to work on and be very vigilant about. Meant a lot to me.)
One of my main training dilemmas/deterrents right now is the difficulty of training one on one.
Pyrrha is extremely attached to me — as in, obsessive level of attachment. She is uncomfortable and anxious if I’m not in her line of sight at all times. This is one of her many fear burdens. Eden, being much more laid-back, is fine doing her own thing, but she also doesn’t like being excluded from the action (and will voice her discontent quite enthusiastically).
What I’ve done in the past, when I want to actively work on new behaviors, is crate one dog, and then go into another room with the other dog and close the door. What’s happened so far is the crated dog pitches a fit with lots of barking and crying, either from mere separation or the knowledge that someone is getting treats and it isn’t them. This usually results in the dog being trained feeling rather distracted by all the commotion beyond the door.
Potential solutions I haven’t tried yet:
- Give the crated dog a high-value bone or stuffed Kong, in the hopes that this will distract her
- Train out in the backyard, in the hopes that this will reduce crated dog’s distress and minimize the noise distraction
- If I’m working with Pyrrha, ask Guion to go play Frisbee or fetch with Eden, if he’s home (this solution has limited applicability, however)
I know there are little videos and podcasts on how to train with multiple dogs in the room at one time, but those dogs have killer down-stays and self-control, neither of which our pups have mastered yet (see introductory text: “lazy trainer,” etc.). So, those things need to happen first before we can reliably work on simultaneous, double-dog training sessions.
I really do want to work on this and renew my commitment to our girls. They could be SO much better trained than they are, and I take full responsibility for that failure. A partial motivation to revisit this conundrum is that I’d like to take Eden to an intermediate training class with our beloved trainer, but I don’t want the trainer to be disappointed by how little Eden has learned since we were last in class! Yeah. Chalk it up to the strong motivator of Dog Lady Shame.
So, help! Those of you with multi-dog households: How do you make solo training time happen? Even if you don’t have several dogs at home, how do you think I could manage this more effectively?