German Shepherds Forum banner

two dog issues - need tips

844 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  middleofnowhere
I am encountering a few issues with our now 2 dog family and I don't have a ton of time for details (I'm at work) but I'd like to get the dialog going

Issue #1) Training. Do I need to separate the puppy for training or can I work in basic commands with puppy while strengthening Atlas's skills. I use the NILIF method, positive reinforcement (with some correction as age increases) and shape new 'tricks' or behaviors via clicker. Since Atlas is clicker-trained, I can see him being confused when I am clicking for the puppy and vice-versa.

Issue #2) When I go to give the pups a treat, they must sit or some other command (NILIF again) to be rewarded. I will tell them both to sit - Atlas will and Loki will jump all over him to try to get the treat. Do I need to separate them with treats likeI do feeding?

Issue #3) I think Atlas is a tiny bit jealous of the new addition. He takes it in stride but some of his obedience has gone out the window. I took him solo to the park to strengthen some of his behaviors this weekend but he's still seeming to slip. He used to have a rock-solid stay - now's he's breaking it almost every time I turn my back. I am attributing this to jealousy but I could be wrong.

tips? suggestions?
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Yes, I would seperate them for "training". That way you are likely to have the pups attention on YOU rather than on the older dog.

I don't use a clicker, so I could be wrong, but I would "think" that it could be confusing. It seems that if they are hearing the "click" for the other dogs behavious, pretty soon the clicks will loose meaning, because each dog would only be "rewarded" some of the time. (Does that make sense?)

Issue #2. I don't seperate mine for giving treats. My pup (now 18 weeks old) learned from day 1 how to behave at "treat time". It didn't take her long to realize that the only way she got a treat was to do as told, or sit calmly, rather than "mugging" another dog.

As far as #3 goes, I would really "amp up" the training time with Atlas so that you re-inforce in his mind that obeying you is NOT optional.
See less See more
I'm going through this same thing with two older dogs, and a new pup. Here are the things that have worked for us, and some of our observations.

I think for focused "training" with the pup, they should be separated so that you can be one-on-one with the pup. But I've also noticed that the puppy can also "pick up" a lot of our household routines by simply observing the other dogs---so there's lots of together time too. For example, my dogs have to sit and wait for a release word to eat. Pup only had to watch that and be restrained the first time or she sits at attention (drooling) waiting for the release word just like the others. I didn't have to teach much, they other dogs did it.

I've been using treat situations to teach all the dogs how to take turns based on their names. "This is for Luca" -- "This is for Fanny" -- "This is for Ellie" I say one of those, then if any other dog makes a move toward the treat/ball/etc. they get an Uh-uh correction. It also helps them understand that everyone gets a turn. After a couple of rounds of handing out treats this way, there's considerably less craziness because they all realize the game--if I wait, I'll get the same thing in a minute.
See less See more
Issue 1. I do both. Puppy has her own training sessions, separate from everyone else. But one of my favorite things to do is to also do some training while the others are loose around the house or yard. They show up pretty quickly and work for itty bitty pieces of food too. (Dh says it looks like I"m "holding court" because I'm surrounded by three very attentive dogs!)

When I was first working on Down with my pup, she was backing into the Down (I was putting the food between her paws to lure it) then sort of rolling to her side. Then the Big Kids showed up. After watching them drop into an immediate Platz a couple times, a lightbulb went off, and sure enough, she pops into a Down like the others. Pups just learn fast when there's someone that they can watch and learn from.

Also my kids are competitive. Whoever gets into the Sit, Down or whatever first gets their treat first. The pup actually has the advantage, since she's so low to the ground. So it's good for her confidence. But it sharpens the other two as well. They respond faster. On Wait commands (when I return to them), I reward based on seniority within the pack. But on Come, it's whoever gets there first. Everyone races to get to me!

Like Tracy, I use names a lot. When I call them, I use each of their names individually. Other times, I tell the Camper to "Find Meri!" and he herds her back to me. I tell the puppy to "Play with Camper!" and she bounds off in search of her GSD brother. And when Zamboni is off in the back corner of the yard, I ask "Where's Zamboni?" (A common command at my house since Boni's hearing isn't great), which means "go find her and bring her back." It's the job of all the younger dogs to get Zamboni and bring her back in when she's diddling around a bit, but can't hear me calling.) Learning each other's names (and ours) is really useful in a 5-member family. Training them together helps solidify that they're a team as well individuals.

Issue 2. It depends on the treat. If I'm giving a chew, the puppy eats hers in her crate. Otherwise, big brother finishes his in no time and starts stalking hers. If they're the same small treat, then they line up and give me a nice Sit or Down to get their treats. No one gets a treat in my house until they earn it. Everything is part of training.

Issue 3. Because I do train together daily, my kids don't seem to get too jealous of each other. The Big Kids seem to see the new kid a way to get even more treats. I make sure that I spend plenty of time with the Big Kids. When I enroll the puppy in puppy classes, each of the Big Kids gets his or her own night as well. Either they're signed up for their own class or they get a committed night where I take that dog (and only that dog) to the park -- and I mix up which park as much as possible -- or other location every week. One of my trainers calls it "Mommy and Me" time. When I'm playing with the puppy with toys in the living room, my senior is sitting next to me, getting petted; and my GSD is chasing a Cuz that I'm tossing down the hallway. I stop petting long enough to toss the Cuz, and go back to petting. Meanwhile, I'm still flipping around a stuffed toy for the puppy to attack and play with with my other hand (the problem with three dogs -- not enough hands!).

So everyone feels like they're getting the kind of attention they want. After we do this for a while, we go outside, the GSD goes outside and we play soccer while the puppy is in the outside x-pen, and my senior sniffs around and jogs back and forth with him. Once the game slows down quite a bit, the puppy comes out and chases him and the senior is content to lie on the cool grass and enjoy a nice summer evening. It's multi-tasking, plain and simple (and exhausting!)

My first thought when you say your other dog is feeling jealous is that in actuality, he's not getting as much exercise as he used to be. I'd start there. When we're juggling puppies and adults, sometimes, we slip on the stuff that was second-nature like making sure our dogs got plenty of physical exercise (and perhaps mental stimulation). I try really hard to keep the Big Kids on their usual exercise/walk routines. It can be hard (esp when I've been up with the pup a lot the night before). But if you can, that's where I'd start.
See less See more
How I handled it --

When the youngest wasn't yet three and the eldest not yet six, this was my routine

1. brief obedience sessions. Start with older dog, then younger dog. Dog not being worked was "tied" out within view and put in a down stay or a stay.

1a. End each dog's work session with a frisbie throw for the dog just worked.

2. joint walk

3. back in the house or where ever

Oldest dog always came first.
See less See more
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.