Q. We have two Jack Russell Terrier puppies. They are wild all the time and bark a lot. What techniques can I use to help them calm down and cut down the barking?
A. When you have two puppies barking and acting wild, it’s much more difficult to calm them down than it would be to calm a single pup. Two puppies together will get each other more excited than one pup would if she were alone. Also, two pups who are always together may form a stronger bond with each other than with you. This can make it hard to get through to either one of them when they’re excited.
The best way to deal with having two puppies is to separate them for a couple of hours each day. Use that time to start forming an individual bond with each pup. Do some training every day with each pup by herself (Sit, Down, Come, Walk on leash, etc.) and take each pup individually for a walk, car ride, or other fun outing several times a week. Spending this one-on-one time with you each day will help both pups start thinking of you as a special pal and teammate. You’ll become more important to them even though they’ll still enjoy each other’s company.
Teach each pup individually to come when you call, and give a very yummy treat reward when they come. Learning to quickly and willingly come when called will also help them learn to limit their barking, because when you call them, they’ll turn away from whatever they’re barking at and run to you to earn that delicious treat.
After each puppy has formed a strong bond with you through individual training and attention, start working with both of them together. Ask both pups to perform one of the skills you’ve trained them to do, and give each of them a treat reward for doing what you’ve asked. Also ask each pup to perform a different skill or trick (have one sit and the other lie down, or have one sit-pretty and the other shake hands), and reward each pup for his or her work. They’ll need that kind of training to teach them to listen to you, even when they’re together.