Walking Dogs Together When One is Reactive Part 2: Wait for Treats

fearful dogs reactive dogs May 18, 2021
Two dogs waiting for treats

You’ve been been working hard with your reactive dog, and you think you’re ready to try walking them with your second dog. Congrats!  (If you're not there yet, check out our online, self-paced course for reactive dogs!

Last week we talked about the skills you need to walk your reactive dog with another dog, and gave you some first steps in training two dogs to walk together. This week, we’re talking about how to teach dogs to wait for treats, so that you can use food reinforcers when training two dogs at once.


Should I Train My Dogs Together Using Food? 

Usually it is possible to train two dogs together using food reinforcers, as long as they know how to wait for treats. However, there are some situations in which it might not be a good idea. Do your dogs fight over food, and injure each other? Or injure you? If your dogs hurt each other in fights over food, trying to train them together using food might not be a good idea. If you decide to go ahead with this training anyway, I recommend muzzle training one or both dogs first. 

Teaching Dogs to Wait for Treats

These are the steps we covered in this week’s video. Throughout this training, pay attention to how close your dogs’ noses are to each other. You should aim to keep them as far apart as you can.

1) With your dogs at least a couple of feet apart, ideally on either side of you, place a treat in each hand.  Then deliver a treat to each of them at the same time, one with each hand. 

2) Now one dog will have to wait for treats- just for a second. Repeat the treat delivery step you just did in #1, with treats in both hands.  But this time, delay one dog’s treat just slightly.  Check out the video for a demonstration.  Repeat with the treat order reversed, so both dogs have a chance to practice waiting their turn.

3) Now that each dog can wait for treats they can see,  you’ll try having the second dog’s treat out of sight until you’re ready to give it to them.  That means leaving the treat in your treat bag, or maybe on a counter, while you give the first dog their treat.  Experiment with extending the waiting time gradually as long as your dogs are successfully waiting for their treats. 

4) Practice the waiting for treats exercises in a different location- ideally outdoors.  The back yard is a good option if you have one.

5) Finally, practice doing some training with your two dogs together. Cue a behavior one dog knows well, like “sit.”  Then deliver a treat to that dog, before asking the second dog to do an easy behavior. All of this is still taking place in a context where training is easy for your dogs, like in the house or yard.


If you try these exercises and had success, or had trouble, we want to hear from you.  Join our Facebook group and post your questions or comments there, or reach out to us by email at [email protected].