Dog training is a bit of a technical skill.
It’s actually quite complex and it's not until you try to manage a lead, clicker, treats and a pup with an attention span of a gnat under the watchful eye of instructor that you realise just how much co-ordination and timing is involved!
The type of lead you use, small changes in how you hold things and the exact timing and placement of rewards can have make a huge difference in your ability to communicate with your dog and hence how the dog performs.
Once your technique improves your dog will immediately start performing better for you.
Here's some tips about which equipment to use and why, how to set it up and how to hold things while you're training to make life easier.
I much prefer quick release collars than buckle collars. The latter are impossible to undo easily under tension, the only
option being to try and cut them off.
It's possible when dogs are play fighting together for one dog to get their jaw caught in the other dogs collar. This can have tragic and fatal consequences unless you can get the collar off very quickly hence I prefer quick release collars.
Never leave your dog home alone with a collar on - they can get caught on things, hooked up and choked.
It's a legal requirement for your dog to wear a collar with an ID tag even if micro-chipped as well.
In addition to a collar I really like a harness, especially with a young dog or pup still learning to walk nicely on lead. It's all too easy to injure a young neck so why take the chance?
In your recall training when you get to the stage of working on a long line a harness is mandatory. Never attach a long line to your dogs collar, they can seriously injure themselves if it gets caught on something.
I have no financial interest in the manufacturer below - I just really like their standard fleece harness and use it myself - here is a link to their website. There is a measuring guide to make sure you get the correct size on there too.
It has a ring attachment for the lead on the back and also one the front which is very helpful if your dog has a tendency to pull.
TREAT BAG / POCKETS
Wear a treat bag or a jacket with pockets so you easily dispense food rewards in a timely manner.
TYPES OF LEAD
I really like to use a proper training lead, 9mm braid is strong, light and very comfortable to use for both you and your dog. It has several rings so you can adjust it to various fixed lengths. Using a fixed length lead when training your dog to walk nicely on a lead is great as the dog gets used to knowing how much lead is there. If the lead length is constantly changing it's much harder for the dog to learn.
Clip the end with the ring to your dogs collar or harness. Thread the other clip through the middle ring and then clip it to the ring near the collar. You now have a nice fixed length lead by just holding the loop and the middle ring stops the loop from opening up and hooking over things.
By the way, how to annoy a trainer: mention the term Flexi-Lead. Thankfully their use is starting to decline, if you own one burn it now.
For anything other than basic behaviours you're going to need a clicker. Just trust me on this, resistance is futile. Don't try and convince me you've tried it and it didn't work or you find it too hard to hold it and the lead at the same time. It will seem a challenge at the start but the benefits far, far outweigh the learning curve to use it properly. Clicker training isn't some different way to train your dog, it's simply a way to mark behaviours very accurately making it super easy for your pup to learn.
How you hold it however, does have a big impact I think for first time trainers. Try as shown in the pics below. I like to hold the clicker and dispense treats with my right hand. Use whichever hand you find easiest. Get a clicker with a wrist strap and hold it in the palm of your hand so that you can click the button with your middle finger leaving your thumb and fore-finger free to get treats from your pocket / treat bag.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER!
Dog and lead in left hand, clicker and treats in right hand and you're good to go!
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Step 2: Have a question or want to know more? Leave your comments below and I'll get back to you!