We often hear dog trainers refer to “getting another tool for their toolbox”.
One can be tempted to think that there is a lot of dog training equipment that we carry around at all times. Usually, that is not the case. That would be incredibly heavy and very inconvenient.
Most of the time people are referring to all the skills and ways of teaching behavior, they have learned from various trainers, conferences, etc.
The knowledge that trainers have in their toolbox, can and should be considered as the most important tool we have, but that is not what this article is about.
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Dog Training Supplies For New Trainers
This article is about which practical tools to use for training sessions as a new dog trainer.
There are actually very few things you need, to be able to do a training session with your dog. Even if you see that some trainers have a lot of equipment, that is not where you need to start.
Harness, dog training collars, and a dog leash would often be a part of the gears for dog training if the training session is outside. Not because it is actively used, but the dog is often wearing one or the other when we are outside – we need to keep their dog tags somewhere.
The same goes for treats – Even if we don’t think of them as a tool, they are very important for many trainers. Most trainers obviously always have puppy treats with them, when they go out for a session.
Dog Training Tools Commonly Used By Trainers
These are the things that many trainers use on a weekly basis.
Clicker – We have a clicker to train dogs with us at most times, when we are working with a dog. It is possible to use other markers as well, or to use a conditioned word – but the great things about the dog clicker is that it gives a level of precision that we can hardly do with just words. Plus, it makes the same sound every time, so that there is no graduation of how right it was. It is either correct = click or incorrect = no click.
Training clothes – you don’t need to invest in a lot of clothes for training. The most important is that you are comfortable, and that the close is something that doesn’t get ruined if you get a stain on it. Many trainers use a training vest. That makes it possible to have the treats loose in the pocket, so that they are easily accessible, and it has a big pocket on the back, so we can keep toys and other dog training accessories out of the way. Some prefer to have a treat bag hanging from their waist, and that can work fine too. It all depends on what you are planning to teach your dog.
My personal reason for not doing that, is that it becomes too much of a cue for my dogs. Since we can’t wear a treat-bag to competition, I am not interested in having that as a cue to work with me.
No matter what you chose, it is a great idea to find something where you have your treats loose in the pocket/bag. That will spare you from having the treats in a small bag in the pockets, which usually just result in a lot of fumbling when trying to access the treats.
What Are The Best Tools For Dog Training?
Toys – Personally, I prefer to always have some sort of toy with me, when I am working with my dogs. It can be a great way of a small break, and letting the dog have one too. It is also a great tool to adjust the dog’s speed in the behaviors.
Both tug-toys and balls are great options for playing with your dog, and if you use a training vest, the pockets are usually big enough for you to be carrying both.
For you to be able to play with your dog, and for it to be something you can use to reinforce behaviors, it is a skill that you need to teach your dog first. Plan how you would like to start and end each play session, and teach your dog that, before you even start using the toys in your training.
Some dogs will naturally be very interested in toys, and some seem like they couldn’t care less. That is ok. We can develop the play together, if it is something we would like to use.
Targets – This is a great tool to get a new behavior started. You can use a target stick or a target mat, and easily store it in your back pocket. You can use just about anything you have in your house as a target mat. An old mouse pad will do just perfectly fine. This is a great tool for teaching the dog to move in a certain direction, and can help us with getting behaviors started, that could otherwise be difficult. It can also help you teach the dog duration for husbandry work.
Platform – This is a tool that is both a target, and a very clear restriction of the dog’s workspace. By using a platform, we give the dog very clear information about the area we expect him to work in. A platform comes in a lot of different sizes and shapes, and can be used for teaching correct positions, and distance behaviors. You can make them yourself, so that they fit perfectly to your dog.
Dumbbell (or other item the dog can pick up) – If you like to work with different behavior chains where the dog is picking something up and delivering it to the handler, you will need an object for that too. Even if you are working towards a full retrieve, you don’t need to star of with buying a dumbbell. Cutting of a piece of your water hose at home, works just fine and costs you nothing. Just make sure you only cut a piece of your own.
Camera tripod – What does that have to do with training? A lot! By videoing most of the sessions you do, you get a lot of information about your session that you are not able to see while the session is taking place. You can also use your videos to take a lot of data from, which leads to the last one
Training diary – A little notebook or an app, where you can keep track of your training sessions, your criteria, where you did the session and how it went. It can seem like a lot of work, but it is an unevaluable tool to keep track of the way from A – Z. For more information on professional animal training, please visit https://tromplo.com/
These are the puppy training tools many dog trainers use the most. Some of us might have a minor issue with limiting the equipment we buy – but whether that is needed or not, that is a completely different story.