MemberAugust 17, 2018 at 1:01 am15
Not sure I can give you 100% sound advice because of two reasons:
1. I’ve been slacking a bit on the training.
2. I’m not a full time dog trainer yet.
Nevertheless, we have 6 dogs (all except one rescues with their own past) and I’ve had as many as 13 dogs at home a few months ago (fostering some rescues, which gradually became less and less until I was back to our own 6).
First of all the age is important. My wife and I had originally 1 dog each, before we met each other, then a few months later came number 3 and 4. They were all close to 1 year old by then. We left our house in Cabo San Lucas and were doing a road-trip from Baja all the way up to Montana for several months. So getting them enough exercise was no problem. Exercising certain leadership skills was a bit more tough, because there was no home to set rules into except for when we stayed at hotels. One of the new dogs (Dalmatian-GSD mix) had huge anxiety issues and fear aggression, as he was a rescue who had been abandoned and had some sort of personality disorder too. He started getting into fights with my Malinois. Most Trainers in the US told me I’d have to give him prozac for him to be able to focus. I did not get the answers I was looking for (my main motivation to become a dog trainer myself). There we re-introduced the military folding crate which we carried with us to give him some alone time and re-introduce leash walking even if we were in complete wilderness, where they could roam free. To keep both those high energy dogs occupied, I made fetch their job from the beginning. They would work together, create bonds and get the extra energy out they needed.
An organized game of fetch, including commands mostly sit, down, wait and of course fetch and out. This would always get the extra energy out of them.
Now they are around 5 years old and the Mal and the GSD mix keep needing a lot more exercise than the others. The new 2 are fully mixed breed dogs. One with a bit of terrier in him and still a puppy at 5 months old, with an according need for training and energy outlet. He is involved in the fetch game with the Mal and the GSD.
We know the needs of each dog well and go into it accordingly for them. Our Pitbull-Rottie Mix Lola, has low exercise requirements and has a solid character so the amount of training I do with her is limited and she gets some perks over the others like being allowed to sleep overnight in the car, which she loves 🙂
The GSD and the Mal, both have the highest energy requirements and the most need for obedience and good leadership. We take them out with us often to run around with us or play fetch, or to walk through town and doing obedience exercises downtown with distractions. Apart from that at home they get several intensive spurs of playing frisbee, fetch or tug. I find it more efficient to do let’s say 15 minutes intensive every 90-120 minutes when at home than just two or three long sessions. (Unlike with you, it’s not hot where we live now). And at least once a week we do a trip on which we take them with us and perhaps some of the other dogs. Here we often go to a river where they can play fetch in the water – water wears them out nicely. Often we try to find new places as the new smells and experiences wear them out more.
The puppy I’ve been taking with me to many places in order to work, socialize and challenge him with new situations. But we always take one or two dogs with us to most places we go and include the training in small interactions.
The other two dogs do often go out with us, and usually we take one of them with us to many social gatherings, who is the one most balanced and best behaved with other dogs and humans. He as well needs little training because I am fully satisfied with him and his balance, though the recall could be improved when his pray drive goes on and he’s off chasing other animals. With him we often do a bit of freestyle tricks but not too much obedience.
With him we let him roam around off leash about once a week which is where he goes off hunting and running around with us – but we can do that pretty much in our back yard as we live adjacent to a little forrest and away from cars.
Other training sessions we do as needed. For example 4 of them started rushing out to chase some animals that get active at night behind our house, so now we started training with them to stay when we open the door and are introducing for them to come out one by one as their name is called.
When I train with multiple of them, often I leave some in down position or I crate them if it is something too exciting or bite work that I’m doing with them.
Doing nose work also wears our dogs out greatly
We live in Panama, there’s no dog sports here. But if it was offered I’d join one for the high energy dogs.
To sum it up:
We adjust the training and exercise needs to each dog.
We do several short sessions a day and include a lot of training into our daily routine.
We troubleshoot if some unwanted behavior comes up
We take the dogs with us in pairs of two to as many places as possible (adapted to the requirements and character of each dog)
We have an additional excursion at least once a week where we take as many dogs as possible and often try to combine it with a place for them to swim.
We use fetch with several short intense sessions a day and many times include obedience here.
I used to also go running or biking frequently and take the two high energy dogs with me, but I have to retake that habit.
As I said before, I’m still tweaking with the training and lately I have slacked a bit having had to focus on the rescue dogs I was fostering and our first new-born.
Still I hope this helps at least a bit. Interested in seeing if anybody else shares some experience that I can learn from as well. I must add, that I work from home so it is easy for me to get out with them frequently and the climate here at altitude allows me to take my dogs with me and leave them in the car with cracked windows.
Here you can see two ways we include working their mind and their body:
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