As responsible dog parents, it is our role to provide proper training to our canine companions. Whether you are going to DIY obedience train your dog or enroll him in a puppy training school, having a few pieces of the right equipment will help facilitate the process.
Dog collar or harness
A collar is one of the basic items that every dog needs. Aside from holding your dog’s ID tag to ensure you’ll be contacted if your pup gets lost, collars play an important role in dog training. The collar is where you attach a leash for walks. It is also a place for an easy hand-hold option when you need to grab your dog to keep him out of danger.
Some dogs will require a harness on top of the collar. Reactive dogs or dogs prone to breathing issues will do better with a body harness when you take them out for walks. Since harnesses fasten over the dog's chest and not around the neck, they do not put pressure on the dog’s trachea. This makes them ideal for dogs that have neck problems, a collapsing trachea, or restricted airways. For owners with reactive dogs, harnesses are generally better at preventing accidents because they fasten more securely around your dog's body. While dogs can easily slip out of their collars, harnesses offer much more security and safety.
There are many different options of collars and harnesses available. This Ruffwear Web Reaction™ Reflective Buckled Martingale Dog Collar (Sunset) is perfect for dogs who have a knack for backing out of traditional collars. This martingale collar comes with a limited-cinch function that helps to prevent the collar from slipping out and this is especially useful if you have a reactive dog who tends to get excited and pull at his collar.
For dogs who are especially tough to handle on a walk, the harness is the perfect solution. Harnesses will give you better control over your dog. Like collars, harnesses come in different sizes. Do take the time to measure your pup and get the right size. When properly sized, you should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your dog's body.
If you are unsure how to measure your dog for a collar or harness, check out these “How To” videos:
Get a harness with adjusters like this Red Dingo Classic Dog Harness (Red) to ensure a snug fit. This harness comes with twin Bucklebones making it easy to put on and remove. Be aware that some dogs, new to wearing a body harness, may not react well when you try to slip the harness on. Always choose one that is easy to wear and take off.
Another essential item is a sturdy dog leash. A basic nylon leash is affordable and always a good choice when training your dog to walk on a leash. Please note that retractable dog leashes are not great for training. With an untrained dog that pulls and runs in all directions, these leashes can cause serious cuts and rope burns; bad enough to land you in the ER, if you grab the leash in a panic to keep your dog out of danger.
With a retractable leash, your dog does not get the tension on the leash line. The leash does not allow your dog to get as much feedback from you through the line. If you have a reactive or pulling dog, then ditch the retractable leash and opt for a basic nylon harness instead.
You can consider this Zee.Dog Boogie Shock Absorbent Ruff Leash for Dogs if you have larger, active dogs. Walking these beasts can be physically tiring! This leash is voted the best dog leash in the world by Pet Product News International. It’s built with a shock-absorbent spring that helps to absorb the force so that your shoulders and arms don’t.
Still on the subject of leashes, a long training leash can be helpful. Long leashes are lightweight leashes that range from 20 to 100 feet in length or more! Long lines are fantastic for giving your dog the sensation of being off-leash while keeping him in check. They are powerful tools for working on your dog’s recall or off-leash manners. Long leashes work really well in the park or an open field. They give your dog tons of freedom without requiring him to be perfectly trained.
Dog training treats and treats pouch
Good dog training is all about rewarding your dog for desired behaviour. Reinforcing the behaviours you want and halting the behaviours that you aren’t so crazy about. A good quality dog training treat is one of the best reinforcing rewards in training. It tends to yield the best results for most dogs.
Because you are going to give out quite a substantial amount of treats during each training session, it is important that you choose high-quality training treats for your pup. A few things to look for when choosing the best training treats:
- Small, so your dog can eat them quickly and move on to the next training task
- Low in calories, so your dog won’t overconsume his daily calories
- Soft, as crunchy treats take longer for your dog to consume
- Smelly, because dogs just love them stinky treats… The stinkier the better!
- Premium ingredients only!
Here’s a good training treat that meets all the above requirements - Wellness Rewarding Life Chicken & Lamb Recipe Dog Training Treats. It’s made from premium ingredients, 100% grain-free, and even contains omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.
Don’t forget your doggy treat pouch. Fill it up with training treats, hang them on your belt loop and you’ll always have treats close at hand. You won’t need to stuff those moist, smelly treats in your pocket! The treat pouch allows you to carry the training treats with you everywhere you go, which is very important, especially in the early days of training.
Some dogs are not motivated by food. As such, using treats as a reinforcing reward during training might not work well with these dogs. If your pup is not motivated by food but loves to play, then use toys and play instead. A tug toy like this KONG Signature Rope Double Ring Tug Dog Toy makes excellent training tools. Whichever toy you decide, make sure it’s something that your dog likes, and set it aside specifically for training purposes only. Do not allow your dog the freedom to grab this toy whenever he wants to. The chosen toy must be viewed as a “special treat” by your dog; something that he longed for and will look forward to playing it during the training sessions.
During training, keep the playtime short — Not more than 5 seconds of tug, or one toss of the ball or frisbee. Then the toy goes behind your back, in your pocket, or under your arm while you ask your dog to perform the desired behaviour again. Every time your dog performed the desired behaviour, mark with a "yes!" or “Good Boy/Girl” or a click if you’re using a clicker, before rewarding with the toy and play.
As the name suggests, a clicker makes a "click" sound when you press it with your thumb. You use it to mark when your dog does something correctly. After you click, give your dog a treat. The clicker is not a piece of essential training equipment. It does have its’ advantages. The “click” sound made by the clicker is precise and unique because it’s a sound that your dog will only hear during training. To your dog, every time he hears the clicker, it means he has done something right and a treat is coming. Clickers provide an instantaneous way of signaling to your dog that he’s done well.
Training your pup will require plenty of patience. A young pup or an untrained dog doesn't know better and will likely display behaviours that you don’t appreciate — like chewing your favourite shoes, pulling at the leash, or barking hysterically at neighbours and visitors. When this happens take a deep breath and redirect him to the behaviour you do want to see. Our job as doggy parents is to serve as their guidance counselors. Teach them what they can and cannot do at home or in public. Finally, remember that dogs are not mindless creatures. Like us, they feel pain and love. They can develop their own opinions too! So, once in a while, within the confines of a safe environment, let them loose a little.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.