Must-Have Pieces of Dog Training Equipment

In terms of developmental psychology, humans and canines are not dissimilar. Early life experiences form the mould for adult behaviours, and it can be difficult to alter such ingrained habits later on. Whilst it’s never too late to get started on dog training, there’s no denying that early intervention is critical. If you have a dog from puppyhood, it is prudent to get started on their training early in the piece. After all, this is the best way to ensure healthy emotional development!

When training a dog, you’re going to need some equipment to aid the process. If we’re going to work some transformative magic, there’s no show without props, right? Here are some must-have pieces of equipment to add to your dog-training repertoire.

1. A dog collar

Collars are essential for dogs, whether they need training or not. In the interests of human and canine safety, a collar is the first thing you should be buying a dog. If perchance your dog were to stray from your home (or from your reach), a collar is a visual aid signalling that a dog does, indeed, have a home. Assured by their evident domestication, a good samaritan may be more likely to approach a collared dog. Collars should include ID tags containing your dog’s name, your contact number, and also your address (ideally). You should microchip your dog, too, as a further precaution.

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(Image Source: Stylish Hound)

From a training perspective, collars are where you will often attach a leash – although we do recommend using a harness, especially for long walks. These allow for greater control and also reduce the risk of choking.

2. A (non-retractable) leash

When you think of a dog, what comes to mind? Is it kennels and bones; collars and leashes? If you answered yes, your line of thinking is on par with the majority. This also signals that we tend to associate dogs with domestication as opposed to their wild, wolf-based ancestry. In nature, a dog would rarely gnaw a bone completely devoid of flesh. It follows, then, that restrained walking goes against a dog’s natural instinct to run free. This is a behaviour they need to learn.

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(Image Source: Stylish Hound)

If you have a puppy, get ready for a whole lot of leash training—and this is a separate blog post in its own right. Before you get started, though, you’ll need to have a sturdy, reliable leash on hand (literally). Ye classic six-foot, nylon leash will do the job, but bear in mind that you get what you pay for. There are also more eye-catching, high-quality, human-friendly leashes on the market—some with neoprene handles for extra comfort.

Whichever style you select, ensure that it provides firm guidance. We’re going for an intensity to reflect the nature of dog training: firm but fair. This means that retractable leashses are not an option—even for dogs who are no longer training. When a dog pulls on a leash, they will experience restrictive tension that discourages such behaviour. Retractable leashes remove this tension, ergo encouraging pulling behaviours. And when we encourage pulling behaviour, we’re reinforcing their wild instincts, which do not marry with contemporary society.

3. Training treats

Dog training is all about positive reinforcement—aka forging positive associations with positive behaviours. This behavioural reinforcement strategy comes under the umbrella of operant conditioning: a psychological phenomenon that has been proven effective in altering behaviours. In the case of dog training, you should pair each positive behaviour with a treat—at least, to start off. This will send a clear message to your dog that their behaviour is favourable and that you would like them to repeat it.

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(Image Source: Stylish Hound)

When choosing a treat, it needs to be a special training treat. No regular piece of kibble will do. To reinforce that your dog has ‘done good’, choose something small and moist. Why? Well, you need to think of the treat as the ‘beat’ between commands. If the treat is too large or too chewy, consuming the treat will consume too much time. It needs to be something they can ‘woof’ down in the brief interval between the next step of their training. And, of course, ensure the treat is smelly. One man’s stinky stuff is man’s best friend’s rich indulgence. Motivate them with treats they’ll want to work for.

4. A treat pouch/bag

If you’re handling moist, smelly treats, do you really want to store them in your handbag, backpack, or pants pocket? We didn’t think so. Treat pouches (or bags) are like bum bags (or cross-body satchels) made specifically for doggy adventures. Some even have built-in poop bag dispensers!

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(Image Source: Stylish Hound)

Simply rest the this great hands-free satchel at your waist (or across your body) so that you can deliver some real hands-on training. Having the treats immediately available and your hands free also speeds up the process of treat delivery. And the sooner a treat follows a favourable action, the better the behaviour will be reinforced! This comes in especially handy when working on agility, specific commands, and more complex skill development.

5. A training clicker

Clickers add an extra layer to the training process. Clickers are optional extras, but they can aid in cementing your dog’s cognitive associations. When your dog has behaved favourably, preface your treat dispatchment with a click from the clicker. Eventually, the dog will learn to associate the sound with receiving a treat, providing all the more incentive for them to behave favourably.

Clickers also have immediacy on their side. You can sound the clicker the moment your dog has obeyed your command. Compare this to rustling through your bag for a treat. As accessible as your treats may be, there will be an inevitable delay between your dog’s behaviour and retrieving the treat. Once a dog knows what the clicking indicates, they will have further incentive to maintain the behaviour.

Give clickers a go. If they don’t work for you, that’s okay. They’re an optional extra that may enhance the training process.

Get training!

Of course, there are other items you can implement in your dog training. However, in terms of the must-have pieces, we’ve about covered it! Dogs are fairly simple, really: give them food and they’ll probably behave.

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(Image Source: Stylish Hound)

Keep those sticky, smelly treats handy and that won’t be the only putty in your hands. Give your dog the right motivation and they will be literally eating out of the palm of your hand. Be sure to be patient, though, because dogs do only have the mental capacity of a two-year-old. Toddlers won’t learn like older children, and neither will your dog. Remember that training is a process, so avoid negative reinforcement and stick to rewarding good behaviour. Dogs will respond better to the latter, and this method will not compromise the trust you’ve built with your furry friend.

Finally, have fun with it! If we know dogs, they’ll probably enjoy this like it’s a game. You should treat it as such as you treat them. So go out and enjoy spending some quality time with your dog! Who said education can’t be fun?

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