Introduction to training tools

There are many tools used in training our dogs. Some of which many of us are already using now. Here is a list of a few examples of tools you are probably already using on a daily basis:

– Voice
– Treats
– Leash
– Praise (Petting and Verbal)

However, sometimes these tools are just not enough. That is when many people seek professional guidance. Many times as a trainer I hear “My dog is awesome at home when I have a treat, but if we leave the house all bets are off.”

The training that I do first and foremost involves a lot of attention exercises. If you do not have your dogs attention you essentially have nothing at all.

Now, the first thing we must remember is all behavioral modification training is negative for our dog. How? Well, your dog loves chasing cats and this is something most dogs are instinctively wired to do. Therefore, us correcting this behavior in whatever method you choose fit for your dog is altering your dogs genetic desire to chase cats. Even if your reasoning for not letting him chase cats is because you live on a busy street and don’t want him to get hit by a car because he randomly bolted into the road trying to catch the beloved neighborhood cat.

Some other training tools that can be used for more advanced obedience and can very useful when implemented correctly in training dogs are:

– E-collars (Contrary to popular belief not SHOCK collars)
– Prong collars
– Place board

I will go into detail further about each of the tools listed above.

Voice: Our voice is used in training to let our dog know when they are doing something right. Ex. “Yes” which is a reward marker and can take place of a clicker.
Our voice can also be used to tell our dog when they are doing something wrong
EX. “No” indicates that what your dog is doing is not the desired behavior.

Leash: Leashes are used to offer our dogs guidance.

Treats/Praise: Treats and our praise can be used as positive reinforcement. Our dog learns to display a certain behavior in order to receive a reward. In this case food. You must figure out the currency of certain treats for your dog. Sometimes your dog will work for kibble or praise but if your dog is offering a behavior that is a BIG deal up the currency of the treat to something like lunch meat or cheese.

E-collar: E-collars are great tools when used correctly and explained by an experienced trainer. Do NOT go buy an E-collar, throw it on your dog and then try to figure out how to use it on your own. Always consult with an experienced trainer first. E-collars are intended to be a little tap on the shoulder for our dogs and are great for off leash obedience. Your dog should never yelp, if this happens your level is too high and you should turn it down. Most E-collars are waterproof and work from a pretty decent radius. E-collars are also a good tool to use when you are having issues with respect from the dog towards certain family members because the correction from each family member is the same.

Prong collar: Prong collars are excellent tools for training because they can be used as a personal correction from us to our dog and it’s a correction they are born understanding. They are also great tools for a dog that does not respond to a regular leash correction or treats. Prong collars are an awesome tool when used properly for dogs who have aggression. Prong collars should be used when a dog displays aggression and is in close contact with a dog, an E-collar if used incorrectly with an aggressive dog can trigger more aggression because they believe the stimulation is coming from the dog.

Place board: Place boards are typically 2X2 little trampoline looking objects for our dogs to learn the “Place” command on. Place boards are awesome tools for training because they teach our dogs impulse control, boundaries, and can build a dogs confidence. A “place” command comes in handy when you have a dog that jumps up on house guests or even a dog that begs for food!Placing is sending your dog to a designated object and having them hold this command until they are released or asked to do a different command. The “place” command can be transferred onto almost any elevated object.

Now, some dogs will require all tools listed and explained above. Some dogs may only need food. This just depends on what exactly you are looking for in your dog and the issues you are looking to fix. I can tell you for sure if you are looking to fix aggression, food alone will not work. Any method you choose to use you must be careful not to rely too heavily on one tool, this will make it hard to ween them off it in the future. This applies for food, prong collars, and E-collars.

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