Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Following my post on training techniques, I am going to talk about the pros and cons of multiple tools used in training. First let me explain what a training tool is and what its purpose is. Training tools are usually in the form of different types of collars, harnesses, and other conveniences like bait pouches and clickers. They are used to help aid and quicken the training process in dogs, and usually revolve around positive reinforcement, though not always. I will only name the most common tools, and tools that I have tried in the past.
Prong collar       
Despite what lots of trainers believe and say, I think that this collar can be very useful and effective if used properly, but that is only my opinion. The problem is, lots of people use this tool incorrectly and often times end up with a dog with problems due to this collar. I personally used to not know how to use this collar, and my lab started developing aggression problems towards other dogs. I have since stopped using a prong on him, and have had to work on his issues. With that said, a prong is not for every dog or owner. Some overly sensitive dogs can react poorly to the corrections. But with the right dog and the right techniques, this can be a harmless and effective way to teach your dog to heal, use as a correction for unwanted behavior, and much more.  
Gentle leader 
The idea of this collar is to act like a head halter on a horse to stop a dog from pulling. If the dog rushes ahead of you their head is pulled sideways so it is facing you, and where the head goes the body follows. I have just bought one of these for one of my dogs, but we are still getting used to it so I haven't had the chance to try it out yet. The idea seems like a good one, but I don't know if it will actually work or not.

Shock collar
Self explanatory... if the dog does something they are not supposed to do, they get the zap. I don't think this method is the best in most situations, and the only situation I can think of that it would be necessary is if the dog runs away when off leash. I have a German Short-haired Pointer who runs away the moment you unhook his leash from his collar. I have trained him extensively on recall with the highest quality of steaks, but only 50% of the time will he come. This is where the shock would come in handy. The moment he runs away and doesn't come when called, he gets a slight buzz. I haven't used this technique on him yet, but it is always an option to try it out.

A dog backpack can be very useful in many situations, whether it's for training, giving your dog a job, or having an extra hand at carrying something, they are something worth getting. They help to slow a dog down when on walks, and can reduce pulling a bit. They also can give high strung dogs a job, helping them feel more fulfilled. Of course they have a practical use too, if you backpack or hike a lot, you can lighten your load and give Fido a bit of weight to carry. Be watchful of chafing though, especially with short-haired breeds.

Bait pouches and clickers    
As the name implies, bait pouches are like small fanny packs that hold treats in easy accessibility during training. If you train your dog with treats, you need one (if you don't already have one). I mentioned the clicker in my last post, and shared a link that explained what it was and what it did. Basically it marks the exact moment your dog does something right, and tells your dog that a reward is along the way. It is a great tool for teaching dogs new things, and I highly recommend it.

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