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!).
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.