Feedback is information that lets your dog know whether they are on the right track or not, depending on what you are doing with them. It is important that feedback is given at a well timed point to let them know in that moment if they are performing or working in the direction or task that you want. Ideally you want this feedback to be able to be given with some space in between you once you get going. Rewards and corrections are a type of feedback that is close up. Instead in this article, I am going to talk about equipment, the clicker, and verbal, your voice.
I am not going to talk about head halties or harnesses in this article. I consider them management equipment and not training equipment. These types of equipment are designed to keep the pressure on the dog at all times, and not allow for decision-making ability on the part of the dog. There are definite uses for them both behaviorally and for the safety of the owner. We will be going over those in a separate blog post.
The following are all equipment that are used in a training program with other many other tools and methods. This is a small but important parts of training that is combined with handler confidence, body position, praise, rewards, consistency (arguably the most important tool), vocal tone, motivation (as in what does your dog naturally like to do, and use it) and training plan. None of these operate well without the others. Reading your dog and their response to tools and stimuli is also important. Have a trainer handy to walk you through whether your dog will not work well on the collar, or are just going through common avoidance antics. This is often hard for a first time dog owner/trainer to judge. You also need someone to help you fit these properly. None of these should be too loose, and the metal training link collar should have about two inches of extra link in it (depending on the size of your dog of course, this is the rule for most medium and large dogs—smaller dogs need much less slack as well their necks are teeny tiny). Generally, these tools and some training methods are used after a dog has become approximately six months of age.
Objectives: Using a crate is important for many reasons. House training, boarding, possible veterinarian visits where they are staying hours or overnight, safety in the house (puppies will try and chew wires and all sorts of things left to their own devices), just having a shower without worrying about what puppy is getting into, and separating out from company that may be afraid of dogs, in general. The objective is to create a peaceful place where your puppy or dog knows they are safe and comfortable to rest and relax.
Equipment: Crate, flat collar on dog (so you have some hold on him putting him in or out), toys placed in the crate already, and a lot of patience. You don't want your puppy to see you getting frustrated. This is all a learning experience for them.
A controversial sector of Training equipment are the electronic training tools. These tools combined with all other tools of dog training (consistency, reward, correction, praise, motivation, ET AL) are what complete the entire training plan. There must be a training plan in order to train your dog to the level of acceptable obedience that I want from my human and canine client teams! Electronics are one option of a tool, but not a requirement by any means. TOOLS also do not equate training. You will work to train your dogs, these are not magic wands. You must know when and how to use them, and you must train your dog first before overlaying this on them for best success.
Author, Robin Rubin
Owner and Head Dog Trainer in Maine, Robin Katherine Rubin, started her Maine dog training business in September 2004. Our dog training facility is located in Southern Maine in York Beach and we help families enjoy their dogs more, making sure they listen reliably and resolving unwanted behaviors.