Your dog needs training. You know this, but you don't know where to start! You know that your dog can be trained, and you know the commands you want to teach your dog...but you just don't know how to get him to accomplish what you're asking of them. Don't worry! As a trainer of 4 years, I am here to share with you some training tools to help you get started on your training journey. Here they are:
1. A Clicker
A clicker is an incredible tool to help you shape and catch behaviors that you want to see your dog do more often. In fact, the clicker has been shown to yield quicker learnability from our dogs. Meaning, he will pick up commands faster and have a more solid understanding of each command. The sound of the clicker will mean, "I like that you did that, do that more often". Painting a very clear picture for your dog. If he accomplishes a command as desired, he gets a click and a cookie! If he doesn't respond to our command the way you had hoped, he has to try again!
For example, if every single time you ask your dog to "sit", he hears the clicker and gets a treat after performing the task - he will learn that the command "sit" means sitting on their bottom and getting a cookie!
The clicker will help you achieve long term results. Dogs feed off of consistency and routine. The clicker gives him both. And the great thing is, it will help you ween him off of treats because the sound will mean "treat" (once we associate the sound with food that is)!
2. High-Quality Treats
Treats are so useful during the foundational period of your training. Just like the clicker, treats will help you as you capture and shape your dog's behaviors. Dogs truly only care about three things: sleeping, playing, and eating. Food is a great incentive, and utilizing it as a training tool will make your initial training process easier and incredibly fun for your dog! I recommend single-ingredient treats as they're extra incentivizing!
While treats can be a huge help during the foundational period of your training process, it's important to remember that you should never over reward your dog. It's easy to get caught up in praising - as he's extremely adorable and you love him! But, over rewarding can unintentionally show your dog that he doesn't need to do something unless a treat is involved.
I recommend only giving your dog a treat when he performs the command exactly how you want him to do it. That way, he knows what your expectations are right from the start as opposed to having a board interpretation of each command (not having clear enough boundaries). Imposing your expectations clearly right from the start, and only treating your dog once he's earned the cookie will make your training process so much easier! Of course, though, if your dog is on the right track with a command, I highly recommend verbal affirmation so that he knows you still acknowledge his hard work! We still want to have fun training!
3. A Training Pouch
One of the hardest things for dog owners when they first start their training journey is feeling like they, "don't have enough hands". It's easy to feel flustered when you're still getting into the routine of giving treats. Whether you feel like you can't grab a treat in time, or that treats just aren't around - the training pouch is a solution that eliminates all of these issues! It's as easy as clipping it onto your waist, and filling it with your dog's favorite treats!
Another great solution is to put treat containers in all of the central areas of your house (kitchen, living room, by the front door, in your room, by the stairs, etc). That way, no matter where you are - if your dog does something worth rewarding, you have easy access to his treats! I like the vacuum-sealed containers, that way your pup can't smell them!
Getting both a training pouch and vacuum-sealed treat containers for the house will be even better for your training experience. It will reduce stress during the training process and will hopefully inspire you to practice as much as you can with your pup!
4. A Great Leash, Collar, and Harness
Lastly, a great leash, collar, and harness will make a huge difference during your training journey. Especially once you start working on your dog's leash skills. Knowing which ones to avoid and which ones to invest in can be tricky. There are so many options out there! So, here are my favorite options.
Standard 4ft-6ft Leash - a standard leash is the best leash to use for training your dog in regards to results and safety.
Slip Lead - a slip lead is great for reactive dogs as it applies pressure only when your dog pulls or lunges. This will help reduce the feelings of anxiety and tension for your dog.
Standard Collar - a standard collar is best, but I do not recommend walking your dog on a collar alone until they no longer pull on a regular basis.
Martingale Collar - a martingale collar is another great collar to utilize if you have a reactive dog or a dog that responds well to pressure training. This collar will apply a gentle pressure when your dog is pulling (much like the slip lead would).
Easy-Walk Harness - the Easy-Walk harness is hands down one of my favorite training harnesses. Your leash clips to the front, which helps to correct pulling behaviors much like the slip lead and martingale collar would. It applies pressure on the chest to help reduce feelings of anxiety and tension in your dog.
Gentle Leader - the Gentle Leader is also another great training tool for walks. This is essentially a harness that sits on the face. This is NOT a muzzle (your dog can still bark, bite, lick, eat, drink, etc.). A Gentle Leader is typically used for dogs who cannot focus, pull too hard, and behave frantically (when a collar or harness is not enough).
Electronic Shock Collars
Now that I've shared with you some training tools that I have found over the past 4 years to help push families forward during the initial stages of their dog training journey.
Appropriate leashes, collars, and harnesses
You'll be able to catch and shape the behaviors you want to see more of from your dog (while redirecting the behaviors you want to avoid).
With any specific training questions, don't be shy! Message Busy Dog today so we can help with all of your training needs.