We do a lot of different types of training here; obedience, tricks, sports, and reactive dog. Some types require more tools than others, but in most cases, training your dog does not require a lot of expense.
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There is not a lot needed for basic obedience training indoors, a clicker if you like, some treats and you’re good to go! We like to use a harness for more control of our dogs when training outdoors. Since we’ve often had beagles, who are pullers, collars alone have just never worked for us. In addition, I worry about them slipping over their heads (because it’s happened!).
Currently Cricket has a personalized harness from Hot Dog Collars and Luke’s is by Kurgo*. Both are easy to put on and secure which are most important to me.
Training obedience outdoors, especially things like heeling and loose leash walking, can be so much easier with a hands free leash, and the Umbilical Belt* is still our favorite. Having my hands free for treating, and especially when walking multiple dogs is important to me. You can read our full review by clicking here.
Clickers! I’ve shared about our Clik Stik before, and that is still my favorite clicker. It extends out with a ball on the end which is a great help with target training. You don’t need a clicker for training though, they can be tough to coordinate at times; your voice saying “Yes!” can work just as well. Luke just seems to learn and respond quicker with a clicker, but we usually only need it at the beginning of training.
A treat bag comes in so handy for handing out those treats when you’re training. My PetSafe treat pouch goes right around my waist so the treats are handy and, again, having hands free is a great convenience!
Each sport requires its own equipment. Our sport of choice right now is Nose Works, and the things we needed were a scent kit, consisting of:
- Boxes and plastic containers for hiding scents in. Plastic containers can be cheap at the dollar stores and boxes can be free – ask at your local retail stores or check at your post office.
- Tins, with and without holes and/or magnets for attaching to metal objects. There are also hang on hide containers. The scents go inside the metal containers and then inside the above or hidden/attached around your training location.
- A target odor kit (we’re only using birch right now), and glass jars for storing the scented q-tips in.
- You can buy whole kits* of the above supplies together through amazon or other specialty websites like K9 NW Source or Paws 4 Fun.
Once we advanced along, I also got a special harness and biothane leash for Luke. When I get these out, he knows what we’re going to do, and they are for nose works only! They will be very important if we ever decide to compete as well. Now, this harness, from ComfortFlex*, I LOVE. It is so easy to put on and seems quite secure (though we haven’t put it to the test as far as that goes). I wish I could get another for walking, but I don’t want to confuse Luke. I wonder if a different color would make it different to him? We got our leash through All K-9.
Crates, gates, and muzzles. When working with a reactive dog, management can be key. Constantly putting them in situations that make them uncomfortable can be overwhelming. Luke always needs a safe place to go when strangers come to our home. He can either be gated* in our bedroom, in his crate*, or hopefully in the future out with people, but with his muzzle* on until we know he can be trusted with someone.
In addition, when having work done on our home, I can also put Cricket in the bedroom with Luke to keep her safe. While there is a door we can close, I want Luke to get used to hearing and seeing people. Isolating him completely can be counter-productive as well. If I know people will be passing the room a lot, I’ll also put the crate in front of the gate so he doesn’t jump on it.
Last but not least, for each of these categories, treats are essential for all forms of training! We use a variety, even mixing kibble in with higher value treats. Zuke’s*, Stewart’s*, and Nature’s Logic* are some of our favorites. You have to figure out what works best with your dog to get the best response. When starting something new, we’ll use higher value treats, but as Luke learns something, we can start mixing in more kibble; which can save on calories. We reduce quantities in meals when we’re doing a lot of training too; we want to keep our dogs at a healthy weight!
There are a couple other tools that can be key in training, and they are things you can’t buy at a store or online. You need lots of patience (more for some dogs than others!) and you need to be lavish in your praise. I think it comes naturally when you love your dog and are proud of them. Some dogs respond to praise just as well as edible treats. We use praise a lot when we’re reinforcing things during every day life. If Luke listens to us when we say “leave it” when he’s barking at something (like a dog on TV), we praise him profusely along with pets, hugs and kisses. It’s easier than getting up to get a treat, if it works for your dog, and you don’t have to worry about those added calories!
Do you have any favorite training tools? Tell us in the comments below!
We are pleased to be co-hosting the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. Please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories, it is open through Sunday. This month’s theme is “Training Tools” but you may share any positive pet training story! Please enjoy the posts below as well.
I think I need that Umbilical Belt. It’s true that it’s hard to train dogs when both hands are busy (one holds the leash and one holds the treats) Thank you for sharing the post!
Thank you for coming by to read! I still absolutely love the Umbilical Belt and use it all the time for walking.
2 Brown Dawgs says
I had to laugh when you said training doesn’t have to mean a lot of expense. Don’t get into Hunt Test training….lol. Wingers, holding blinds, bumpers, ducks, poppers, popper gun, cost of land, seminars…never ends.
I bet that did give you a good laugh – hunt test training sounds like it’s definitely an exception to that rule! 🙂
Groovy Goldendoodles says
Great list of tools, the last two are my favorites!
Barbara Rivers says
I love my clip-on treat pouch and all of our Ruffwear gear. Their quality is just outstanding. I also love my extra long leather leash that I can wear around my shoulders for a hands-free walking/hiking experience.
I don’t think we have anything from Ruffwear but I’ve heard a lot of good things about them. I’ll have to check them out.
Tenacious Little Terrier says
I haven’t done nosework formally in a while. I should pull out our kit. I like using a harness too but the one I have has a hook on the back so it doesn’t do anything for pulling . But it’s awesome for picking Mr. N up when there’s an emergency!
I like a handle on the back for grabbing a hold of if a dog is getting a little too boisterous! I needed that for our beagle Kobi, who was not the least bit reactive, but wanted to see everyone we passed on a walk – and was very insistent about it!
Christine Caplan says
As you know, we’re a huge fan of crates and baby gates. Cannot have enough in our household ;). What you introduced was a great reminder that I needed. I don’t have a separate harness for Sherm or Walter for Nosework. I use the same tools we use on walks and that was always something my trainer told us to invest in. Thanks also for including the nosework odor kits! I need a refresh and always forget where to go!
You might want to check out the website Emma suggested too: http://www.thek9nose.com/ It looks like they’ve got a lot of supplies and good prices. They also have the same harness as Luke’s – and in patriotic colors – which I love! I might have to get that one for Cricket. 🙂
I think that you hit all my favorites too! My only difference is in the kind of treat bag. I had the same kind as you but they kept breaking (and being replaced). Since then, I found one that closes magnetically, and it works great!!! (and lasts forever)!
We used to love all the same treats as you until Shyla got epilepsy. Now we’ve eliminated rosemary from her diet (it may lower the seizure threshold) so we’ve found new kinds of treats!
Great list and I love your attitude!!!!
Ooohh…closes magnetically? That sounds awesome! Can you tell me the name of it, or where you got it? If I ever need a new one that sounds great.
Luckily there are so many wonderful treats out there to choose from. I don’t have to worry too much about “high value” with Luke or Cricket – the two of them will work for just about anything. LOL
Our scent kit is one of our favorite tools, too! And our treat pouch feels like it’s such a part of me by this point that I forget it exists when I think about all of the tools we need. I’m not coordinated enough for the clicker! Our first trainer had to teach me how to hold our leash correctly and that took me long enough to master that it would take a lifetime to master a clicker, a leash, a treat, and giving our hand signals for the commands!
I understand that! When I was training loose leash walking, or heeling, with Luke, it took me a while to get the coordination down! I think in that case, I couldn’t wait until he was far enough along that I didn’t need the clicker anymore. Now, I’ve slacked off with it, so we’re going to have to probably go back to square one. 🙁
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
I really like the last two tools, patients and praise you are so right on that! Great list of tools!
Without those two things, the rest of it is really kind of useless! 🙂
M. K. Clinton says
Bentley and Pierre are both very treat oriented so that helps me. I love your treat bag. I need something like that for our walks.
You don’t have the advantage of big coat pockets in the winter like we do either. 🙂
Wow, you’ve put a lot of thought and effort (and I’m sure some trial and error) into all your training gear and techniques. With kitties it’s mostly distraction, redirection, and positive reinforcement (most of mine have not been food oriented).
My cats haven’t been either, and Samantha least of all. We did train her and her sister Katie to come with a noise we made, and we still use that at times. That’s the extent of my cat training though!
Brian Frum says
A great big bag of patience is always appreciated!
Terrific post! So much good information.
I’ve yet to find a training pouch that’s big enough for all our string cheese, but my pockets work in the winter when I’m wearing a big coat.
That’s a good point, and one good thing about winter. It’s nice having all of those big pockets for extra space!
Jen Gabbard says
I really need to try out a scent kit, I know it would probably be a lot more engaging than me just hiding carrots in the same places over & over in our house. And I couldn’t agree more with you about clickers; it’s so nice to have something that makes communicating in a precise way so simple.
If your dogs like hide and seek, they would love nose work! That was how we started out too, and when I realized how much Luke loved it, and how good he was at it, I knew we had to step it up. I’m so glad we did.
Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says
Great post, Jan! I love the fact that you put in patience – and praise! – I just wish I had more of it! It’s definitely better to do training sessions when I’m in a good mood! ????
I struggle with patience all the time – so it’s a nice reminder to myself too! I work on it all the time, and some days are better or worse than others, that’s for sure. I think it’s totally OK to cut training short if someone – human or dog – just isn’t in the mood at the time. 🙂
Two French Bulldogs says
Good tips. We like positive training too. It works
Lily & Edward
Monika & Sam says
Glad you included patience and praise as necessary tools when training. Love your treat bag, I ave two that make getting into them a challenge so I may have to switch to that kind. When walking two dogs, you need as much hands free paraphernalia as possible!
We have a backpack for each of our sports with our supplies. Some need more stuff than others. Have you checked out http://www.thek9nose.com/ She is a friend of ours who sells NW supplies to tons of people around here and at trials. We order all our odor and containers from here, and Madison will be getting her harness there when she starts sniffing in a couple months.
I just checked out that site and bookmarked it. I noticed they had Luke’s harness – in patriotic colors – for less than what I paid! I plan to get Cricket one once we really get back into things and she’s moved along more; so I’ll definitely get it, and my other supplies, from there.
I agree with you, clickers are great tool… specially for beginners… we can learn a lot this way… even when clickers were used here during d-day and the people always look a little puzzled at me when I clicker my way through our village LOL