Walking two dogs at once can be twice the fun…or twice the challenge! When the dogs are large and strong, the task of one person walking two dogs is one that has to be taken on like any job: deliberately and with a plan.
The first consideration is that the two dogs get along well.
At all costs (even if it means taking separate walks with each dog), you don’t want two dogs literally your arm’s length apart to be fighting!
If your dogs are friendly to each other, you’ll want to make sure each is leash trained. If one needs a little refresher in leash manners, it’s best to leash train the dogs individually so you can start and stop to reinforce behaviors as they happen in that particular dog…not because his walking partner was getting off track!
You can train the dogs separately or have someone else walk with you and take the second dog, keeping the training independent.
One Leash or Two?
Once your dogs are leash trained, it’s a matter of how will you accomplish the walk.
Some walkers and dogs prefer two leashes (our two dogs in this photo are on two separate leashes).
However, two dogs and two leashes can quickly become a tangled mess, not to mention a hazard for the owner trying to walk down the sidewalk.
Using a Dog Leash Coupler to Walk Two Dogs on One Leash
Some dog lovers use a dog leash coupler to walk two dogs using one leash. A coupler is made up of two short leads that snap to each collar, with a ring in the middle that attaches the two leads to one leash.
Using a coupler is generally easier for the dog walker, but some dogs dislike couplers because being connected restricts each dog’s movement. The dogs must walk very close to each other and, if you stop to correct one dog, you’ll be correcting both dogs.
You’ll need to make sure that the smallest (or oldest–or least energetic) dog in the pair doesn’t just get dragged along if the larger or more energetic dog decides to investigate something along the way.
With the age and size difference of our dogs, I generally don’t use a coupler on our walks. However, I always carry a coupler attached to my dog walking bag to use as a tie-out; I run it through the handles of the leashes to attach the dogs to my chair when were at a patio restaurant or to the legs of a picnic table when at a park!
Introduce a coupler slowly, with initial walks going just a short distance. As the dogs become accustomed to the feel of being connected, gradually lengthen your walks.
How to Train Your Dogs to Walk Together
Just as with getting your dogs accustomed to walking on a dog leash coupler, the same is true when using two separate dog leashes: start slowly.
Start by walking your dogs for a short distance to make sure they remember their leash manners and understand that the rules still apply to them as a pair.
Assuming you have taught some basic commands, such as “sit” and “wait” (we also like “stop”), work on these with the dogs together before stepping out on a walk.
Dogs who know “heel” and walk right at your side are great candidates for walking in tandem. But even if your dogs don’t heel, it’s extremely helpful for your dogs to be in the habit of walking on one side of you or slightly out in front–not moving from side to side to explore.
Even with the best trained dogs, you might find a little adjustment period when you start walking two dogs at once.
The “you must be talking to that other dog” syndrome is common so there may be a little period of retraining (bring extra treats and extra patience!)
You may also see a competitive nature that surfaces, causing well-mannered dogs to suddenly start pulling as both dogs strive to reach that interesting smell first.
The correct training response is the same as it is for one dog: stop dead in your tracks as soon as the leash goes tight.
How to Hold the Leash When Walking Two Dogs
In walking two dogs at once, you’ll also have to do some readjustment yourself, especially if you’re using two leashes.
Some walkers prefer to put both leashes in one hand while others find the weight is better balanced with a leash in each hand. Others choose to put one dog on a waist leash and the second dog on a traditional leash.
Personally I put both leashes in one hand; this leaves one hand free for picking up poop or pushing brush to the side if we’re off on a trail.
See what feels comfortable and safest to you.
What NOT to do when walking two dogs at once
What you definitely do NOT want to do is walk two dogs on retractable leashes. Not only will the long retractable leashes become tangled easily but the nature of the leash handles makes holding two very difficult for the dog walker.
Remember, too, that walking two dogs together can be a physical challenge: two dogs make up quite a force and not everyone can handle this situation without landing face down on the ground!
When you’re walking two dogs, you’ll want to be extra mindful of potential distractions BEFORE they become an issue. Keep an eye out for those squirrels and redirect your dogs before they start to pull.
Take stock of both your dogs’ training and your physical state to decide if two separate dog walks or one tandem walk are best for you and your dogs.