The training tools available, and the creativity of trainers who use them, is astounding. It may seem to many that there is a never-ending stream of these gadgets. However, while useful, a training tool should never be a substitute for knowledge.
Make sure that your dog is in good health before using any training tools mentioned discussed below. Even the gentlest of collars or training regimes can do harm if the dog has a skin sore or twisted dewclaw.
A clicker is a palm-sized, hand-held plastic and metal unit used as an attention-getting device. It emits a loud ‘click-clack’ noise when pressed and released and can save a lot of wear on the trainer’s voice. Even against background noise, it is distinctive and readily audible to a dog.
The clicker can be used to grab the attention of a distracted dog. More commonly it’s used as a reward or ‘begin’ sound when the animal exhibits desired behavior or to start a behavior.
Leashes and Collars
A large variety of leashes are available, from two-foot control leashes, usually made of nylon or leather, to the 30-foot extendable-retractable nylon cord type.
A good tool for near work, such as training ‘sit’, ‘stay’ (for example, ‘don’t run after the cat’ or ‘don’t move before I do’) is the two to four-foot leash. The extendable leash is only useful for trainers who want to obey their dog. The human (whether male or female) must always be the ‘alpha male’ of the pack and the alpha always leads.
Collars come in various combinations of the buckle, snap, nylon and leather. Provided good quality snaps and nylon are used, they can be suitable even large dogs. To ensure they don’t slip off easily when the dog moves, allowing escape, they should be adjusted carefully, though.
This trainer is adamantly opposed to spike collars – which can easily damage a smaller dog and tend to engender fear even in larger ones. Choke collars are also discouraged. A sharp tug on the front of the throat can bruise or even collapse a trachea even though dogs have very strong neck muscles. Also, choke collars are often put on backward (an easy mistake to make), which makes them counter-productive and dangerous.
Chest halter leashes and even full vests can be used to strengthen the trainer’s advantage while avoiding excessive pressure on the dog’s throat.
The potential downside is that training is limited to positive re-enforcement as the animal experiences no discomfort from pulling. Originally designed to be used with seeing-eye and other aid dogs, the chest-halter can encourage pulling – the opposite of the usual goal.
Nevertheless, they’re helpful for those who need extra control over a strong dog or when regular collars and leashes aren’t sufficient, Muzzles.
Muzzles can be helpful, and sometimes necessary for help with short-term barking and biting control. The downside is the dog never learns through other means to suppress barking when using one. The muzzle becomes a substitute for the more difficult, long-term solution of obeying ‘no-bark’ commands.
Other dog-related items include no-bark collars, electric fences, chemical sprays, head collars, etc. These act as control devices as well as training tools though.
However, the most effective, and cheapest, training tool comes from love and respect. Dogs are generally eager to please, especially when they themselves are happy. Utilizing this tool will make training desired behaviors far easier and much more pleasant for both of you.