Hiking With Multiple Dogs – When I rescued Hendrix he was approximately 6 months old. He was an absolute natural at hiking from the very beginning. He has always stayed right with me, and on the trail, minus one time, when he got a snout full of cactus. While a lizard or squirrel will cause him to pause,he follows the “leave it” command to a tee. Never has he just lost his mind, and darted off to explore or chase.
When I rescued and brought Lady Bonnie home at the ripe old age of 8 weeks, it was clear from the beginning that my little ball of fire was going to be a LOT different on the trails.
Hendrix has been a very import part of Bonnie’s teaching. As soon as Bonnie was old enough to start taking her out on the trails, I used a Y-leash attached to each of their harnesses. Being so much bigger than her, Hendrix always had control of her. It wasn’t long before these two were a perfect team and I could take them anywhere.
BONE – IT IS VERY HELPFUL, WHEN TAKING A DOG(S) OUT AND ABOUT, THAT YOU TEACH THEM TO WAIT FOR YOU TO GIVE THEM PERMISSION TO EXIT THE HOUSE AND/OR CAR. When I go to take the dogs out my front door, if they are super excited and not really paying attention to me, I make them pause and sit until they are watching me, and waiting for my command. When I get to a trailhead, I open the door with the stay command. I don’t let them just bail out of the car. This gives me a chance to get their attention from the get go, and get leashes on, etc, without total chaos.
In 2014, Craig and I got together, and Saity became part of my pack. To be completely honest, the first outing with all 3 dogs, for me, was a disaster. Saity, obviously, is a bird-dog and that is all she knew how to do; hunt. Also, Craig used an obnoxiously long leash, and Saity was all over the place. I think the first time I ever got mad at my husband, was when the long leash kept tripping me. In their defense, Saity is actually a fantastic bird dog. She has even been known to catch one or two out of the air, run back to her dad, throw the live birds at him, and take off to go find more. Because of Saity being trained to do things so differently than Hen and Bonnie, the only time she got to go on adventures with me, was when her dad could go also.
This was a family outing to the salt flats. This trip was actually not a very good idea. You can read here to find out why!
Over the last 3 years, there have been a few group outings here and there, but there have been way more times that I had to put the sweetest dog in the whole world, into her kennel, and walk out the door with one, or two, of the other dogs, and leave her home. 🙁 This always broke my heart, because she wanted to go so bad, and I just didn’t want to wrestle her. At times, I would just not go because I couldn’t bring myself to leave her. While he would never say anything, or try to keep me from going on my hikes and camping trips, it made my hubs sad too, that our sweet Saity was not included. So, finally one day I just bit the bullet, put my big girl panties on, and put all 3 of my furry besties into the car, and went for it!
You know what? I was scared to death that one of them would get away from me, get lost, and/or get hurt. As it turns out, all the training that I had done with all of them paid off! They had to stay put when I opened the front door at home, until I said “Okay!”. They had to wait until I gave them the command to load into the car before plowing into the back of the Subaru. They had to wait for me to get leashes on and gave the command to exit the car. We successfully completed our first hike with just me and my 3 dogs! I cannot tell you how very excited I was about that successful day. I didn’t get any Nat Geo worthy photos, nor did we traverse any impressive miles or climbs! What we did do was enjoy being in nature, exercised, and successfully painted wide, tongue drooping, bellies panting smiles on my dogs faces! WINNING! We definitely will need several more adventures to perfect our rhythm, but I don’t plan to ever stop going outside, so the possibilities are now endless.
Here are a couple of tips for hiking with multiple dogs, that I have already learned:
- Put dogs out back, or in their kennels, while loading the car.
- Don’t rial the dogs up while getting ready. EX: “You wanna go bye-bye?!”
- Use controlled exits from the house and the vehicle, which means you have to take the time to train this routine.
- If you let your dogs all off leash at the same time, wait until you have been hiking for a while, and they have settled into the hike. Once they have settled down and hiked off some energy, they will be more attentive to your voice and commands.
- A Y-Leash is a very handy piece of equipment with multiple dogs.
As I perfect my own abilities, I will share what I learn with you! What about you? Do you have some great tips you can share on how to be successful at hiking with multiple dogs? Please share them in the comments below!