Ich bin Robbie Thoughts of a dog owner

Hi! Ich bin Josh!

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No. 7  

No. 3 - September 2001

Two dogs - the same or more work?

A lovely, sunny workday lies behind me. During the day - work in the office; in the evening - work with two dogs. When I was still thinking about getting a second dog, I asked owners who had more than one dog their opinion and often heard that it was no more work than with one. You had to go for a walk with one dog just as with two, the preparing of the food didn't take much more time, and two dogs could romp around together in the garden - which was actually less work because they could look after themselves.


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This opinion certainly applies as long as just house dogs are concerned. However, as soon as the owner wants to work with the dogs it is definitely wrong. What was not clear to me before was how much time the owner has to spend with each dog on its own in order to, on the one hand, build up the dog/owner relationship and, on the other hand, to get the dog to concentrate.


Here, I don't just mean "work" but also other behaviours which have to be trained. For example, if I go for a walk with both dogs then Robbie does mainly what Josh does. Mainly, but not always. For Robbie it is exciting to chase joggers, cyclists, cars, skaters etc. However, this behaviour occurs less often when I go for a walk with both dogs rather than just with Robbie on his own. To cure him of this chasing, therefore, I had to go out looking for joggers with him and then to divert his attention with a goodie in the hand or to reward him if he didn't try to chase. Now, you could think that the younger dog would learn the "correct" behaviour from the older one. To that I can only say "may be". It would certainly take longer - or could possibly not apply at all - because they divide up the "work" between them. This could be seen as "division of work" by the dogs. So, Josh wants to chase motorbikes along the garden fence while Robbie takes on the skaters. While one works, the other one always lies quietly somewhere. As the regular walks are made with both dogs anyway, Robbie thus has both chances to learn the correct behaviour for himself.

  Click to enlarge... As Robbie wants to give a friendly greeting to all dogs - even dominant ones (while it's better to keep Josh away from dominant dogs) - a walk together is therefore not exactly easier. And that B has to inspect where A has sniffed and vice versa definitely makes the walk longer - as regards time, at least. In short, even for a walk it is not the same whether you have one or two dogs.  

Regarding "work", I am very relieved that Josh is already 9 years old and only has to be trained in exercises which he has already learned so that he remembers them. This is, naturally, less work than teaching new tasks. Nevertheless, I still have a bad conscience when I work more often with Robbie than with Josh. I am always afraid that I am neglecting him. But Robbie needs regular - but shorter - working sessions. It continues to fascinate me how Josh refuses to play with me and also refuses to take a reward as long as Robbie is around. He is only happy if I busy myself with Robbie.

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Josh lies down somewhere where he can observe and looks to see whether everything is done correctly. Also, he helps me with Robbie's training. So, for example, if I throw something for Robbie to fetch and Robbie can't find it in the grass, then Josh goes to where it is lying to show Robbie where it is. If Robbie then finds it and picks it up, Josh returns to his observation position again.


But for this, Josh would never accept a goodie - as if it simply goes without saying that it is his job to help in educating the youngster.

Josh has such a wonderful personality, I love him for it. He also seems not to feel he is neglected at all, which is a relief to me. However, this also means that I have to go to the training ground with Josh first if I want to do some training with him (and then he accepts all rewards!), then deliver him back home and collect Robbie. The work is, therefore, significantly greater when you work with two dogs.


My summary, therefore, is that two dogs definitely take up far more time than one. I knew that would be so but now it's clear just how much more!



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