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Walking Two Dogs at Once: A Comprehensive Guide for Multi-Dog Owners

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

walking two dogs at once

Navigating the world of dog ownership is a joy, but it can sometimes feel like a juggling act, especially when you have more than one four-legged friend to manage. One of the common challenges multi-dog owners face is mastering the art of walking two dogs at once. But fear not! With the right techniques, patience, and a sprinkle of consistency, you can make your dual-dog walks a breeze. Whether dealing with a puller, a sniffer, or even if you need to enlist the help of a dog walker at first, it’s usually completely possible to walk your two dogs together. You may just need to invest in good foundational training first to avoid any mishaps.

Drawing on the expert knowledge of Dr. Karen London and Dr. Patricia McConnell, this guide will provide you with actionable steps to ensure that your strolls with your furry companions are both enjoyable and safe. Ready to start? Let’s dive in!

But to really get into this, let’s break it down step by step.

Step-by-Step Guide To Dual-Dog Walking

Two people going on a hike with two white German Shepherds

So let’s dive into exactly how to get your two dogs walking calmly by your side on a walk. 

Step One: Train Each Dog to Walk Politely on a Loose Leash By Themselves

Before diving into the complexities of managing two dogs simultaneously, it’s crucial to ensure that each dog is well-trained and walks properly on leash individually. A dog that pulls incessantly or darts unpredictably can make a walk unpleasant. Now, imagine managing two such dogs at the same time!

  1. Understanding the Basics: At its core, walking on a loose leash means that your dog walks by your side without pulling, tugging, or making the leash taut. It’s about mutual respect and understanding. A dog that understands loose leash walking is not only more enjoyable to walk, but also safer.
  2. Positive Reinforcement: One of the most effective ways to achieve this behavior is through positive reinforcement. Whenever your dog walks beside you without pulling, reward them with a treat or verbal praise. This will help them associate the behavior with positive outcomes. Here’s an in-depth guide on training your dog to come when called, which also touches on the principles of positive reinforcement.
  3. Consistency is Key: Just like any other training, consistency is essential. Ensure that every family member or individual walking the dog adheres to the same rules and commands. This uniformity will help the dog understand and retain the behavior better.
  4. Addressing Undesired Behaviors: Sometimes, even well-behaved dogs can display signs of aggression or frustration. It’s important to address these behaviors promptly and correctly. Resources on how to discipline dogs, managing dogs after fights, and understanding why dogs growl when disciplined can provide valuable insights.
  5. The Ultimate Solution: For those looking for a comprehensive solution to stopping dogs from pulling on the leash, this ultimate hack is a treasure trove of information.

Remember, the goal is to have a dog that walks with you, not against you. Once each dog is trained to walk politely on a loose leash by themselves, you’re one step closer to making your dual-dog walks a harmonious experience.

Pro tip: If you have a dog that is struggling to walk well on a leash, enlist another member of your family to walk your other dog, so that you have one dog per person walking at the same time. This give you space to work on any behavior issues without having to also deal with two dogs at the same time.

Step 2: Build Strong Engagement and Teach Your Dogs to Focus on You

Managing two dogs on a walk demands that each dog offers you their undivided attention. If one dog is easily distracted or reactive, walking both dogs together can quickly escalate into a chaotic situation. Ensuring your dogs are engaged and attuned to your cues individually is a prerequisite to harmoniously walking them together.

  1. Why Engagement Matters

Engagement is the bridge of communication between you and your dog. When a dog is engaged, it is attentive to the handler and responsive to cues. This mutual connection allows for clearer communication and a safer walking experience.

  1. Training Techniques for Engagement
    • Name Recognition: Start by consistently using your dog’s name before giving commands. This primes them to expect a cue and to focus on you.
    • Hand Targets: Using hand signals or targets can help redirect your dog’s focus back to you, especially in distracting environments.
    • High-Value Treats: Carry treats that your dog loves and use them to reward moments of spontaneous eye contact or when they check in with you on their own during walks.
  1. Neutralizing Distractions
    • Controlled Environments: Begin training in low-distraction environments, such as your backyard or an empty park. As your dog masters engagement here, gradually introduce them to more challenging environments.
    • Desensitization: If your dog is reactive to specific stimuli like other dogs, strange people, or small animals, employ desensitization techniques. This involves gradually exposing your dog to the stimulus at a distance where they remain non-reactive, rewarding calm behavior, and progressively decreasing the distance as they become more comfortable.
    • Proofing Commands: Regularly practice and proof commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “heel” in various environments to ensure your dog listens even when faced with distractions.
  1. Dealing with Reactive Dogs
    • Understanding Reactivity: Reactivity isn’t necessarily a sign of aggression. Many reactive dogs are simply overstimulated or fearful. Recognizing and addressing the root cause is essential.
    • Muzzle Training: For dogs that may pose a risk to others due to their reactivity, consider muzzle training. A muzzle, when introduced positively and correctly, can be a helpful tool to ensure safety without causing distress to your dog. Remember, a muzzle is not a punishment but a safety measure.

Step 3: Enforce Good Behaviors at Home

Walking two dogs harmoniously starts long before you step out of the house. The environment at home, and the behavioral boundaries established there, play a foundational role in how your dogs will behave outdoors. Dr. Karen London emphasizes a technique known as the “group wait”, which is particularly relevant for households with multiple dogs.

Understanding the “Group Wait”

  1. What is the “Group Wait”?: The “group wait” refers to training your dogs to pause and hold back at doorways, rather than impulsively rushing through. This requires patience, impulse control, and respect for boundaries on the part of the dogs.
  2. Reducing Pre-Walk Excitement: Dogs, being creatures of routine, quickly pick up on the signs that a walk is imminent, which can send their excitement levels soaring. When multiple dogs are vying for the lead, trying to squeeze through a door at once, it can not only create chaos but also trigger scuffles or outright fights.
  3. Benefits of the “Group Wait”:
    • Safety First: By ensuring that your dogs don’t dash through open doors, you mitigate risks such as them running into the street or getting into altercations with other animals outside.
    • Cultivating Calmness: By reducing the pre-walk frenzy, you help lower the adrenaline levels in your dogs, making the start of the walk more controlled and serene.
    • Establishing Leadership: When you step through the door first and signal your dogs to follow only when you deem it appropriate, you reinforce your role as the pack leader. This sets a tone of respect and understanding that can be beneficial throughout the walk.

Implementing the “Group Wait”

  1. Training Individually: Before introducing the concept to both dogs simultaneously, ensure each dog understands the “wait” command individually.
  2. Reward Patience: As with most dog training, positive reinforcement is key. Always reward the dog that waits patiently. This not only encourages good behavior but also instills a sense of healthy competition among the dogs to be the “best behaved”.
  3. Leader Leads: Make it a habit to always step through doorways first. This simple act reinforces your leadership and ensures that the dogs understand their role in the hierarchy.
  4. Consistency: Ensure that every member of the household understands and enforces the “group wait”. Dogs thrive on consistency, and mixed signals can be counterproductive.

To sum it up, instilling good behaviors at home through techniques like the “group wait” paves the way for peaceful and controlled walks. Starting your journey from a place of discipline and calmness drastically reduces the chances of dealing with unruly behaviors during the walk. Remember, a successful walk isn’t just about the journey outside, but also the behaviors nurtured inside the home.

Step 4: Ensuring Safety on Dual-Dog Walks

Safety should always be at the forefront of any dog-walking endeavor, especially when walking two dogs simultaneously. The unpredictability of the outdoors combined with the distinct personalities of each dog means that we must be prepared for a variety of situations. Here’s how to prioritize safety:

1. Address Reactivity with Muzzles

  • The Importance of Muzzles: If either dog has shown signs of reactivity on the leash in the past, whether it’s aggression towards other dogs, animals, or even people, a muzzle can be a proactive measure to prevent potential incidents.
  • Positive Muzzle Training: Introducing a muzzle shouldn’t be a negative experience. Gradually acclimate your dog to the muzzle using treats and positive reinforcement, ensuring it’s comfortable and doesn’t cause distress.
  • Choose the Right Muzzle: Opt for a basket muzzle that allows your dog to breathe easily, drink, and take treats.

2. Harnesses Over Collars

  • Benefits of a Full Harness: Harnesses distribute pressure across a dog’s chest and back, rather than their neck. This reduces the risk of injury and offers better control.
  • The Utility of Handles: Opt for harnesses with handles on the back. These can be invaluable in tight situations, allowing you to lift a dog quickly or hold them close when necessary.

3. Positioning the Dogs

  • One Dog Per Side: To maintain control and prevent tangles or conflicts, keep one dog on your left and the other on your right. This also ensures that you can attend to each dog’s needs separately.
  • Maintain a Short Leash: Holding the leashes short (but not tight) allows for immediate corrections and prevents dogs from building momentum if they attempt to lunge or chase.

4. Avoid Retractable and Long Leashes

  • Dangers of Retractable Leashes: These types of leashes can easily get tangled, posing a tripping hazard for both the dogs and the handler. Additionally, they offer less control if a dog suddenly bolts.
  • Risks with Long Leashes: While long leashes might seem like a good idea to give dogs more freedom, they can be problematic on dual-dog walks, especially with larger breeds. A dog that gains momentum can pull you off balance or get tangled with the other dog.

In essence, safety during dual-dog walks boils down to preparation, the right equipment, and being aware of your surroundings. By taking these precautions, you ensure that your walks are enjoyable and free from unexpected incidents. Always prioritize the well-being of your dogs and those around you.

Step 5: Assess if the Walk Satisfies Your Dog’s Needs

A fundamental aspect of dog ownership is understanding that not all dogs are created equal, especially when it comes to their energy levels and mental stimulation needs. What works for one breed or individual dog might not work for another. The key to a successful walking experience is ensuring that the walk meets both the physical and mental demands of your canine companions.

Recognizing Individual Needs

  1. Breed and Energy Level:
    • Low Energy Breeds: Dogs like Bulldogs or Basset Hounds might be content with a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. Their energy levels and physical build are not designed for intense, prolonged activity.
    • High Energy Breeds: On the other end of the spectrum, breeds like the Belgian Malinois, Border Collie, or Jack Russell Terrier are not only physically active but also have sharp minds that require regular stimulation. A simple walk around the block is unlikely to tap into their energy reserves.
  2. Understanding Frustration: A slow walk for a high-energy dog can be akin to asking an athlete to take a leisurely walk when they’re geared up for a marathon. It can lead to pent-up energy, which in turn can manifest as destructive behaviors, hyperactivity, or even aggression.

Meeting the Needs of High-Energy Dogs

  1. Intense Physical Activity:
    • Fetch: A long game of fetch, preferably with a ball or frisbee, can help drain some of that boundless energy.
    • Hikes and Runs: Regular hikes or runs can be beneficial. The change of environment, terrain, and the physical exertion can tire out an energetic dog.
    • Dog Sports: Engaging in dog sports that tap into their natural instincts, such as agility, herding, or flyball, can be immensely satisfying for them.
  2. Mental Stimulation:
    • Training: Regular training sessions, even if it’s just practicing basic commands, can engage their minds.
    • Puzzle Toys: Toys that dispense treats or kibble when manipulated can keep a dog mentally engaged for extended periods.
    • New Environments: Exploring new parks, trails, or neighborhoods can provide fresh stimuli and challenges for your dog.
  3. Harnessing Natural Instincts:
    • Bikejoring or Cani Cross: For the uninitiated, bikejoring involves your dog pulling you on a bike, while cani cross is cross-country running with your dog tethered to you. Both activities tap into many dogs’ natural instinct to run and work in collaboration with their humans.

In conclusion, a walk is not just about physical movement but about mental and instinctual satisfaction. As a responsible dog owner, understanding and catering to your dog’s unique needs ensures their well-being, makes walks more enjoyable, and fosters a deeper bond between you and your canine companion. Always remember, a happy dog is a well-exercised and mentally stimulated dog.

Troubleshooting & Tips For Walking Two Dogs at Once

A person walking two dogs at once, one black and white Pitbull and one Staffordshire Terrier

Walking two dogs simultaneously can be a rewarding experience, but it’s not without its challenges. Every dog owner will likely encounter a few bumps in the road. Let’s delve into some common issues and how to address them:

1. Inadequate Socialization

  • The Issue: Dogs that aren’t properly socialized can be fearful, aggressive, or overly excited when they encounter other dogs, people, or novel environments.
  • The Solution: Start socializing your dogs from a young age. Expose them to a variety of situations, people, and other animals in controlled settings. If you’ve adopted an older dog, it’s never too late. Start slowly, use positive reinforcement, and consider enlisting the help of a professional trainer.

2. Lack of Reliable Recall

  • The Issue: If a dog doesn’t return immediately when called, letting them off-leash can be risky. They might run into traffic, get into altercations with other dogs, or simply get lost.
  • The Solution: Ensure your dogs have a rock-solid recall before even considering letting them off-leash. Practice in safe, enclosed areas first and slowly progress to areas with more distractions. Training the ‘come’ command effectively is crucial.

3. Strange Dogs Approaching

  • The Issue: Not all dogs you encounter during walks will be friendly or well-behaved. An approaching strange dog can be a source of stress, especially if your own dogs are reactive or fearful.
  • The Solution: Be proactive. If you see a dog approaching, get your dogs’ attention, ask them to sit or stay, and reward them for staying calm. Use body blocking (positioning yourself between the strange dog and your dogs) to prevent unwanted interactions. Always communicate with the other dog’s owner, and if necessary, firmly state that your dogs need space.

4. Tangled Leashes

  • The Issue: With two dogs, leashes can easily get tangled, causing tripping hazards and limiting control over the dogs.
  • The Solution: Use shorter leashes to maintain control. If the dogs are of similar size, consider a leash coupler – a device that connects two leashes to one handle. However, ensure both dogs are comfortable walking closely together before using one.

5. Over-excitement and Pulling

  • The Issue: Dogs might get overly excited during walks, leading them to pull on the leash, making the walk uncomfortable for both the owner and the dogs.
  • The Solution: Regularly practice loose-leash walking techniques. If one dog is more prone to pulling than the other, consider walking them separately until better leash manners are instilled. Anti-pulling harnesses can also be beneficial.

6. Safety Concerns

  • The Issue: Unexpected events like sudden loud noises, aggressive dogs, or even wildlife can pose safety risks during walks.
  • The Solution: Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Consider carrying items like a whistle, citronella spray, or even an umbrella (which can be opened to create a barrier between your dogs and a threat). Prioritize dog discipline and always intervene before situations escalate.

In summary, walking two dogs at once requires preparation, training, and a keen understanding of each dog’s temperament and needs. Stay patient, consistent, and proactive in your approach, and you’ll find that walking your duo can become one of the most enjoyable parts of your day.

The Right Equipment for Walking Two Dogs at Once

Having the proper equipment is paramount when embarking on a dual-dog walk. Here’s how to set yourself up for success:

  1. Leash Coupler or Splitter: One of the primary challenges of walking two dogs is managing two leashes. A leash coupler or splitter connects two leashes to a single handle, making the walk smoother and minimizing the chance of tangled leashes. When choosing a coupler, ensure it’s of an appropriate length to give each dog space, but not so long that it becomes unmanageable.
  2. Strength and Suitability of Leashes: Not all leashes are created equal. When walking two dogs, it’s essential that the leashes are strong and appropriate for each dog’s size and strength. Avoid using worn-out, weak, or fraying leashes that could snap under pressure. Additionally, ensure that the leash length is suitable; too long and you risk reduced control, too short and the dogs may feel constricted.

By investing in the right equipment, you ensure safety, comfort, and control, making the walk enjoyable for both you and your canine companions.

Frequently Asked  Questions (FAQs)

Should you walk two dogs at once?

Yes, you can walk two dogs at once, provided both dogs are well-trained, comfortable with each other, and you have the right equipment. It can be a time-saver and can help dogs bond, but it’s crucial to ensure safety and control at all times.

How do you walk multiple dogs at once?

Walking multiple dogs requires preparation and training. Begin by training each dog to walk politely on a loose leash individually. Use a leash coupler or splitter to avoid tangles, ensure you have sturdy and suitable leashes, and always prioritize safety. Remember to remain alert and manage each dog’s behavior and interactions.

Do dogs bond when they walk together?

Yes, walking together can be a bonding experience for dogs. It allows them to share experiences, explore new environments, and work as a team. Regular shared walks can improve their relationship and reduce potential conflicts at home.

Should I walk my dogs separately?

It depends on the dogs and the situation. If the dogs have differing energy levels, if one is reactive or untrained, or if they don’t get along well, it might be beneficial to walk them separately. Separate walks can also provide individual training opportunities and one-on-one bonding time with each dog.

Final Thoughts

Walking two dogs at once can be a delightful experience, merging the joys of companionship with the benefits of physical activity for both you and your canines. However, the venture demands more than just enthusiasm; it requires training, understanding, and the right equipment. By prioritizing the individual needs of each dog and fostering a cooperative environment, dual-dog walks can become harmonious and enriching. Remember, as with many things in life, patience and consistency are key. Embrace the journey, celebrate small victories, and relish the unique bond you’re building with your furry companions on every walk. Safe and happy strolling!

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.