In the dog trainers’ arsenal of tools and tactics, there are many great items that will assist in the task and make things much easier for you. Items such as clickers, leashes of different varieties, halters, electronic collars, electronic and chemical training aids, muzzles and treat carriers all have their place in the trainers world and can prove very useful in your efforts to train your dog. Let’s take a few minutes to explore some of the various tools of the trade.
We shall begin our discussion with the clicker. This handy device is usually made up of a small plastic box with a piece of formed metal inside of it. It emits a clicking noise by pressing down and then releasing the metal. This sound is a quick attention getter for most dogs and once they are taught to recognize the sound, they can discern it even over much background noise or relatively long distances. It is used a great deal by trainers who focus mainly on positive reinforcements.
Next in line are a variety of leashes. These handy tools can range from a very short leash with less than eighteen inches of length to an extremely long leash of twenty feet or more. The shorter leashes are used for more control when working on training an animal for up close behaviors such as the Sit, Heel and Stay commands or when walking thru large crowds where longer leashes could pose dangers for your dog or other people.
The longer leashes are used for behaviors that allow more freedom and come with some nice features such as the retractable leash which is essentially a long leash on a spring loaded spool that will allow the dog to explore at a distance but will coil itself back as the animal returns, thus preventing trip hazards and tangling. In the same group as leashes, we find the halter which is essentially an extension of the collar, which forms itself around the upper torso of the dog thus allowing more control for the owner and less strain on the dogs’ neck. Halters are also made use of for working dogs such as Seeing Eye dogs and police or military animals.
After the leashes we find another control device; the electronic collar. These negative reinforcement devices come in two major categories, sonic and shock emitting. The sonic version is the more humane of the two and emits a discomforting sound when the dog performs a certain disagreeable behavior such as traveling beyond the limits of an invisible fence perimeter or jumping onto furniture. The second version works in the same manner but has the added enforcement of delivering a painful electric shock.
There is also a variety of training aids, both electronic and chemical based, for combating specific behaviors. One of the most popular electronic aids is the electronic shock mat, which is placed on furniture to keep your pet from jumping onto your leather couch or expensive recliners. These devices emit a mild but persuasive electrical shock when the pet comes into contact with them. (A cautionary note: Don’t forget to remove these items before you sit down on the furniture. It might prove to be a shocking experience. ) Chemical based training aids include such products as Bitter Apple sprays or creams, which are used to prevent chewing or self-mutilation behaviors. Other such products are administered as a dietary supplement to produce calmness in excessively overactive dogs or to stop a dog from eating feces.
Some trainers also use muzzles as a way to curb nipping behaviors. It is a good idea to give your pet at least some familiarity with this item as many veterinarian offices now use them to avoid injury to the staff during procedures such as nail clipping or shots and it can be very stressful on a pet who has never encountered the device before. Muzzles are also useful in training dogs to stop barking and to avoid aggressive behaviors and injuries when a gathering of many animals is expected or when introducing your pet to a new animal in the household such as the family cat.
Last but not least, and certainly the most appreciated by your dog, are the special treat carriers that have become quite popular in training circles. These carriers provide a clean way for you to carry a whole days worth of treats on your side without having to dirty your pockets or have your hands full constantly. They are an excellent choice for outdoors types who take their dogs on back packing adventures or for a days hunting as they provide an ample supply of treats and they are relatively light and easy to carry.
This listing was composed of just a few basic tools of the trade. There are many other training aids that we do not have time to discuss here but feel free to visit your local pet store and find out more about the ever growing line of pet supplies and how they can aid you in your training ventures.