Murph Part XV: Training with Two Dogs

Yesterday, I brought both Pickett and Murph to work for two reasons. One, Pickett is getting fat and lazy sitting at home, and two, he seems a bit depressed lately as I walk out of the house every day with Murph. I’m no dog psychologist, but it’s easy to see he’s not all that happy. Undoubtedly my attention to Murph is pushing it, but being a sole trainer with two dogs, I need to figure out a way to work with both of them.

This presents a whole new set of challenges. Since Murph arrived, I have been giving both dogs commands preceded by their name in preparation for this moment; and while I’ve been working them together at home and around town in basic obedience, I have not really gone through real hunting drills with the two of them. Murph has been getting all the work. Needless to say, the first day trying to train both of them was a few mistakes shy of disastrous. Murph was on a simple blind retrieve when Pickett couldn’t stand it anymore and needed to join in. He went charging out after Murph and the two of them decided to play keep away. That ended that, but I stumbled on some valuable lessons, the first one being slow down, separate, and keep it simple.




While Murph is advancing well in his basic skills, he has done so by himself. Introducing Pickett to the routine wreaked a bit of havoc. Murph is a rookie and Pickett is an old veteran with a few bad habits who needs a refresher. The combination of the two was a mistake in terms of expecting too much, but the silver lining is it taught me to back off and take it one step at a time and one dog at a time.

Today I’m bringing out my assistant—the stake. I will put out the stake, walk them over to it, give them the sit command, and then clip one of them to the stake. I will then give the other the heel command and walk away and do a simple drill. I will return and switch.

I can see this going on for a while, and I mean a long while, perhaps months, the result being a reinforcement of heeding the command following their name, and the understanding that when the other dog is working, they need to sit quietly. We shall see. Next week I’ll update you on whether this is working.

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Photos by Tim Bronson.

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