Top 8 Dog Training Tools for Every Dog Owner
Investing in key training tools makes dog training easier and far less stressful. A pro trainer shows you where to start.
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Buying Training Tools
It’s critical to start training puppies as soon as they join your family. Proper training and socialization at an early age ensures that your pup will develop into a confident and well-mannered family member. The right training tools not only help with the puppy training process, but they can also speed things up! The faster behaviors stick, the sooner you can enjoy the way they improve everyday life with your dog.
Given the huge quantity of products available, determining exactly which ones to buy can be equally challenging. We’ve narrowed it down to our top pro-recommended tools to best help successfully train your dog.
A Reliable Clicker
Clickers, like treats, play a key role in positive reinforcement training. The two are usually used in combination, until your dog associates the sound of the clicker with good behavior without receiving a treat. Clicker training is a must if you want to reward your dog for good behavior without overfeeding.
The inexpensive PetSafe’s Clik-R slips onto your finger or attaches to a lanyard. Not only does this neat tool have a purpose, it’s portable and comfortable, too. Having an easy-to-carry clicker allows for training sessions in all kinds of environments. After all, you definitely want to ensure your dog is well-trained inside and outside your home.
A Training Collar
Choke, pinch or prong training collars can hurt a dog’s neck if put on too tightly or if the dog fights against it. A better option: A gentle leader training collar, which fits onto your dog’s head like a horse halter. When the dog starts to pull, the gentle leader directs their head towards you, thus refocusing their attention on you to guide. A training collar also limits the dog’s control by preventing them from pulling with their whole body strength.
Inexpensive Halti Head Collars are made of strong nylon and feature a padded nose band for canine comfort. They come in six sizes, with a bonus training guide.
A Long Line
Long lines are a great way to transition your dog from walking on a short leash to running in open spaces. Use one to practice calling your dog back from afar without the risk that they’ll get lost or run away. Long lines are especially useful when training hunting or livestock guardian dogs, which spend more time off-leash than other dogs.
Designed specifically for recall training, Hi Kiss training leads are strong enough for large dogs and range from 15 feet to 100 feet long.
A Durable Chew Toy
Puppies love to bite, especially when playing or teething, which is normal and necessary for stress relief and maturing. The key is to redirect negative chewing on furniture or an outstretched hand to a chew toy instead.
Kong offers a range of safe, durable chewing toys. Stuff them with tasty treats to encourage your dog to chew (and chew, and chew) on this, instead of your favorite shoes.
Motivating Dog Treats
Research reveals that dogs show much greater behavioral improvement with rewards-based positive reinforcement training versus punishment-based training. Treats, of course, are essential to this process. Use them on their own or in combination with clickers or whistles.
To properly train, you’ll need to provide rewards consistently, so be sure to have plenty on hand. Pupford Freeze-Dried Training Treats come in 450-treat economy packs and are low-calorie — nice when you’re doling out so many. They come in five flavors: chicken, liver, rabbit, salmon and sweet potato.
A Target Stick
Target sticks feature a bright ball to put your dog’s attention where you want it. Use one to direct them to a particular object, or to motion an action. They’re especially useful when you’re teaching commands such as going inside their crate or up into the car. Simply use the target stick to guide your dog in that direction.
Note that target sticks are less common for standard training methods, but especially helpful for teaching advanced or “party” tricks — still a worthy endeavor, as every new trick mastered boosts your dog’s confidence. One on the easy end of advanced is “spin.” Simply motion the target stick in a circle above your dog’s head and eye line, and watch as they follow. Add in the word “spin,” followed by a treat.
The inexpensive Company of Animals target stick retracts for easy travel and storage. Use it alone or with a clicker.
A Portable Training Bag
Holding a clicker, treats, target stick and a leash all at once is quite a balancing act! A training bag helps keep everything at hand when you train and travel, even if it’s just to the local dog park.
Paw Lifestyles training bags are small for easy portability and storage, but have plenty of room for treats, toys, keys and more — including a built-in poop bag dispenser. We recommend keeping it packed and ready to grab and go.
A Training Mat
A growing training trend: Stationing, or teaching a dog to stay in a specific spot, such as away from the table during dinnertime or clear of the door when guests knock. To train stationing, you need two things: a reward such as treats, and a place to station.
The furrybaby Dog Mat works well, with bonus points for being soft, washable and slip-resistant. It’s easy to travel with, too, so you can keep up your station training wherever you roam. Or you can build a dog bed to keep at home.