Q: We have a couple of two-year-old Lab/Rhodesian?/Shepherd? mix "pups," two sisters that were found abandoned. We have had some success using traditional training techniques, but would like to try incorporating the clicker. Do you have any recommendations for using the training with two dogs? Even if one were indoors and the other outdoors, we suspect that both would still be able to hear the clicker.
Would it confuse the "other" dog to hear the click and not be rewarded? Or, perhaps if we trained them together, would the dog not receiving the treat understand that her sister is getting a reward for the desired behavior? I should mention that they already have a pretty good grasp of "come," "stay," "down," and "uh-uh."
A: Hearing the click in the distance won't confuse your dogs. The dog quickly understands which click is "his" click and which is not. They will agitate to have their turn to be trained when they hear someone else getting clicked, but that too will stop once they learn they have to wait their turn.
Here are some solutions people have developed for training two dogs in one household:
Put one dog in the yard or in a crate with a bone while you train the other one. Then change dogs.
Each person trains a different dog at the same time. The dogs will focus on their own trainer's click (and treats) and ignore clicks from the other person. (This would work well for you, I think.)
Tether one dog nearby and let it watch the other dog being trained. Throw the tethered dog an occasional treat for being quiet. Some behaviors can be learned by observation, so this can speed up the training.
Use different sounds for the different dogs: a click for one, a whistle for the other. Or use the new Clicker+, which has four different electronic tones.
Separate the dogs briefly whenever you train new behavior. When you are just reviewing known behavior, click when both dogs do the right thing, and treat both dogs.
Use toys and various household privileges as rewards attached to the click. That way both dogs can earn privileges together. For example, ask the dogs to sit before opening the door to the outside; click and open the door when both dogs are sitting. Gradually shift to opening the door just a little, before you click, and click if the dogs remain sitting.
Follow-up: Great, thanks so much for your help! I think those ideas will work well with Daisy and Ginger. We've done just a little bit with the clicker while taking one at a time for a walk, and they already seem to make the connection. It's great to know we can use it more freely around the house while both girls are around.