Decent dog behavior is directly proportional to decent dog training. Training is a lifelong learning endeavor for dogs, and although it is most critical throughout puppyhood, you can always teach an old dog new tricks. Similar to human infants, puppies require structure and boundaries to make sense of their world. If a canine cannot enjoy consistency throughout their formative years, they may experience anxiety or mental health issues later in life. It can be daunting to contemplate that your dog’s wellbeing is putty in your hands. However, it can help to reframe dog training as an exciting project broken into a series of steps. Oftentimes, the first step is acquiring the right equipment. Here are five must-have dog training supplies to keep your pooch on the straight and narrow.
Not all owners will opt for crate training, but it is a common method used to house-train dogs and regulate dog behaviour. It can also double as a breather for when you cannot supervise your pooch. Your dog may feel wary of their crate at first, but with the appropriate training, they can come to view it as their own personal space—not unlike the way their wolf ancestors viewed their dens. The house-training will evolve in conjunction with your pup’s positive perception. Once they consider their crate to be a solitary haven rather than solitary confinement, they will be less likely to ‘defecate where they eat’, so to speak.
Forge positive associations with your dog’s crate! This one looks like a cozy place to rest.
When helping your pup acclimatise to their crate, patience is key. Acknowledge that this process will take time. In essence, the training consists of forging positive associations with the crate. Food-based behavioural reinforcement will work on almost every dog. Ensure not to rush the process, and ensure that your dog enters the crate in comfortable conditions. For example, do not commence crate training if your pup is in a playful mood. In fact, your dog may view the crate as a comfy place to rest after a run in the park.
Never leave your dog in their crate longer than three hours at a time. If you intend to leave your pup in the crate overnight, you may need to release them for periodic bathroom breaks. Finally, if you have a puppy, ensure to choose a crate with room to grow. Puppies grow very quickly and you wouldn’t want to splurge on something that will last only a number of weeks.
As discussed earlier, almost all dogs are food-motivated, and the best way to reward positive behaviour is by using treats. If you have a good sense of your dog’s preferences, ensure to select their favourite treats. The better-tasting the treat, the greater the incentive to follow through with the action. They should also be bite-sized and easy to ‘woof’ down, as not to distract from the task at hand. This is probably the most popular form of positive behavioural reinforcement for dogs.
If you’re taking treats on your walks, you could store them in this Black Training Treat Pouch
This adds another layer to positive behavioural reinforcement. Clicker training can turn any dog into a Pavlovian dog with a click of your…well, clicker. Before rewarding positive behaviour with a treat, sound your clicker. Your dog will associate this sound with receiving a treat, thereby coming to regard it favourably. Ensure to sound the clicker immediately, and to follow with a treat just as promptly. The immediacy plays a critical role in forging the positive association.
A Red Training Clicker from Stylish Hound.
Clicker training is a form of operant conditioning that motivates dogs to behave in a positive way. It can deepen the effectiveness of treat-based training; however, it is a variation of positive behavioural reinforcement that some dog owners may choose to forgo. If your dog is already responding to treats alone, for example, it may not be quite as necessary for training. Every dog-training project is unique.
Training collar with optional harness
Training collars are for dogs requiring stronger control in new or stressful walking conditions. Ensure to research training collars prior to first use, as they can be harmful if used improperly. The most popular and least harmful training collar available is the martingale collar, which is typically nylon-based with a small chain section. This collar is like a softer version of the controversial chained collar, which poses more of a choking hazard to your dog. Ultimately, the martingale collar will tighten when your dog pulls away, but release to a comfortable fit once appropriate walking behaviours resume. You can also invest in a harness, which discourages pulling by restricting your dog’s range of movement.
Dog harnesses provide an extra level of control. Note this dog owner is holding the leash close to ensure their dog does not stray far away.
Never choose a retractable leash for a dog in training. Unlike a harness, this will allow for a greater range of movement—and unearnt liberties. Choose a standard 1.5-metre leash and ensure to keep your dog close as they’re learning their walking etiquette.
Training a dog is a big job, but we encourage you to think of it as an exciting journey with many steps forward and potentially many steps back. Dogs can be extremely empathetic, so they may be more sensitive to your frustration than you may realize. When training your dog, try to be patient and understand that slip-ups are par for the course. Like humans, dogs will thrive best in an unconditionally supportive environment. Whether you’re using behavioral reinforcement to form healthy canine behavior or keeping your dog in line on daily walks, these five items are a great way to get started with dog training.
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