If taking one dog on adventures is joyous, taking two (or more) must be better… right?
Like so many things in life, it depends. As the proud human of two border collies, a frequent dog sitter, and a (sometimes) doggie foster mom, I have had a lot of experience taking multiple dogs on outdoor adventures.
Let’s break down some of the factors of multi-dog adventures into three main categories. Some things stay the same, some double in trouble, and some factors need special consideration when taking multiple dogs outdoors at once.
As always, things will vary based on the specific activity you’re pursuing and the individual dogs you have. It will be more challenging to take two extremely different dogs out on adventures, or to manage multiple dogs in a watersport environment, versus taking two highly compatible dogs on a quick hike.
What Stays the Same
Risk assessment and trip planning don’t change much when you’re bringing several dogs. It’s still important to know how the wildlife are behaving this time of year, if there are cliffs or other hazards, and whether or not dogs are allowed. Of course, if your dogs are dramatically different, your risk assessment needs may vary a bit with the additional dogs.
What Doubles in Trouble
Gear. In most cases, you’ll need twice as much gear for two dogs. Both of my dogs need their own leashes, harnesses, GPS collars (when necessary), and booties. However, some gear you don’t have to double; I still use one first aid kit and one dog towel.
Mess: Two muddy dogs make more of a mess than one—that’s pretty clear. You will also have twice as much brushing to do if the dogs get into burrs and twice as much dog to check for ticks.
What Needs Special Attention
Recall work and other training. Training multiple dogs for adventures isn’t just twice as much time for one-on-one work. You’ll also have to teach the dogs how to listen around the distraction of each other. For example, it’s much more challenging to call dogs back to you when they’re playing with each other. Social learning can also help younger dogs learn good habits from mentors, but this backfires if your “mentor dog” also has bad habits!
Trail etiquette. It’s important to give special consideration to other trail users, especially if you have more than two dogs. Teach your dogs to come back to you and move off the trail when other users approach. This courtesy alone will help other users realize that you have control over your crew and that they don’t need to worry about the pack of dogs roaming the trail.
Managing personalities. Hiking with my dog Barley is a breeze. He’s friendly and polite with mountain bikers and horseback riders and other dogs. He rarely chases wildlife and stays close naturally. Hiking with my pup Niffler is also very pleasant. He turns on a dime and listens perfectly to me. He gets excited about other dogs and can worry a bit about horses, but is easy to handle. However, hiking both of them together (even though they’re both very good boys) can be tricky! I have to pay special attention to where each dog is in relation to things on the trail, and sometimes it’s hard to watch both at once since Niffler moves so much faster than Barley. This would be even more challenging if the boys were more different in temperament.
What are some of the special considerations you have in mind for adventuring with multiple dogs? Let us know below!
Written by Kayla Fratt