Starting the training journey can feel a bit overwhelming, and there are dozens upon dozens upon dozens of things on the market waiting to provide you with a "quick fix." Here's our top ten supplies for all your training needs.
1. Raised dog bed: Teaching your dog to stay on a bed or mat on command can solve many behavioral issues. “Place” is a great way to prevent counter surfing, help your dog learn to relax, prevent your dog from rushing people at the door, and so much more. Although you can teach your dog “place” on any type of dog bed, they tend to learn much faster on a raised platform, such as a Kuranda bed.
2. Regular, dry kibble: Yes, kibble instead of treats! Do not use treats when training at home! Your dog should be eager to train for his regular food. Treats can be used in new environments, but put the kibble to good use for behaviors in the everyday locations. The treat value level should match the distraction level, and home should be your dog's normal. In addition, weaning off of kibble is much easier than weaning off of hotdogs!
3. 4-foot leash: It seems to be the magic length! No one wants to compete with six feet of distractions. Four feet is long enough to be functional and work on basic behaviors.
4. Treat pouch: Having your dog's kibble easily accessible will be a part of the training process. If you don't want your pockets to get dirty, buy a treat pouch! Going to the counter, opening the bag, and getting the treat each time your dog does something good is a training moment that will be lost in the shuffle.
5. Food games: Think about puzzle games, snuffle mats, or anything that requires your dog to think, work, or play to get his food. Food games are a great way to keep those negative behaviors away, thus preventing bad habits from forming. Provide your dog with some mental stimulation on the days you don't have enough time to train!
6. Long line: Want your dog to listen off leash? A long line is essential. This provides distance away from you that will feel more "off leash" without sacrificing the safety aspect of unclipping the leash prematurely during the training process. We love long lines for the transition from regular leash to off leash.
7. Crate: All dogs should be crate trained. Even if they are potty trained, even if they don't chew, and even if you don't want to crate them on the regular. Make sure your dog can tolerate being crated, because likely at some point in their life they will need to be in a kennel - think about the vet, groomer, a friend's house, emergencies, or transportation needs. A crate helps prevent separation anxiety and is an important part of teaching relaxation.
8. Muzzle: We believe every dog should be muzzle trained! Even the most friendly of dogs can bite while in pain. Muzzles can make vet visits so much easier, and if you ever have an emergency situation you will be so grateful your dog has this skill!
9. Soft, smelly treats: Oh, yes! The treats! But save these for the distracting environments so they are extra special to your dog! Remember to use kibble at home.
10. Collar: In most situations, we prefer collars to harnesses. Collars give more control of the head, and where the head goes, the body follows. A well-fitting harness will enable pulling. Think about what sled dogs wear! Harnesses that claim to teach dogs not to pull often are restricting the dog's natural walking motion and can cause arthritis in the long run because of pressure on the shoulders. At the end of the day, dogs need to learn to walk on a loose leash which can be taught through teaching a heel command and lots of positive reinforcement!