Training one puppy is a challenging endeavor that requires patience, consistency and more than a few dog treats. Training multiple puppies at once requires the same -- though in far greater supply! Group training works well for some commands, and dogs who work together to accomplish goals tend to have positive associations to socialization and other animals. No doubt, training multiple pups can be a frustrating endeavor, but well worth the effort.
Consistency is Key
In all dog training, consistency is the primary factor that determines success. Rules are rules and must be treated as such. If your pups are not allowed on the bed, for example, none should be allowed on the bed for any reason. All dogs in the training group should have to follow the same rules, and all humans who interact with the training group should follow the same expectations of behavior. In other words, you, your family and your friends must all follow established rules or you risk hindering the training process.
Finding Alone Time
Some training commands are best taught on an individual basis. Stay, for instance, is a challenging command in which duration must be introduced before distance and distraction. Because other pups in the training group present a considerable distraction, it would be unfair to the dog to attempt to teach stay when they are present. Tough commands like heel and stay require you to make individual time for each dog.
Other commands work well in groups. Sit, for example, is something that all of your pups can do at once. The same can be said of the lie command. Recall, in which the dog comes when called, is fantastic to teach in groups because even the dogs who are not learning as quickly instinctively will follow the other pups. It is also important to teach your dogs to sit politely while you place their food -- this one should be taught with the pack present. Ask the puppies to sit, and then start placing the food. If they stand, lift the bowl and reset. Once all puppies sit patiently while you place the food, they can eat.
Keeping it Short
Puppies have a short attention span. Split your training sessions into brief 15-20 minute bursts to ensure pups stay engaged. Additionally, remember that everything your pups want to do provides you with a training opportunity -- if they want food, if they want attention, if they want to go outside, if they want to come back in. In each situation, making small asks of your pack (sit, lie down, wait) will help make their obedience even more powerful.
By Todd Bowerman
About the Author
Based primarily in Austin, Texas, Todd Bowerman has been working as a writer since 2004. He has provided numerous independent clients with ghostwriting and SEO copywriting services. Bowerman currently serves as editor-in-chief of Button Masher Online. He studied English at DePaul University.