There are many excellent training devices that can be used when training your dog. The most basic piece of equipment that every dog owner should own is a quality training collar. There are many different types of training collars and these devices go by a variety of different names, including choke collar, choke chain, correction collar, slip collar and of course training collar. Training collars are favorite tools among both amateur and professional dog trainers.
When used properly, a training collar is a valuable, effective tool. However, like any tool it must be used properly in order to be effective. Despite its simple appearance and design, a training collar is a piece of precision equipment, and it must be treated with respect.
An improperly used training collar will do no good, and it can harm your training program by causing the dog to become confused and frightened. There are several important things to consider when choosing and fitting a training collar.
The first consideration when choosing a training collar is how the collar fits the dog. It is vital that the training collar be fitted properly to the dog. Only a properly fitted training collar will be effective for the dog.
The training collar must also be put on the dog the right way. Unlike a normal buckle collar, there is a definite right way and wrong way to put on a training collar and putting it on the wrong way can make the collar ineffective or even dangerous.
In addition to being fitted and sized properly, the training collar must be used properly as well. The training collar is designed to provide a reminder, not a punishment. It is very important to never use steady pressure with a training collar. A training collar works by providing a sharp pressure, followed by an immediate release of pressure.
The weight of the chain and the size of the links on the training collar are very important when choosing a training collar. The weight of the chain should be appropriate for the size and weight of the dog. For instance, you would not use a heavy chain on a 10 pound dog, just as you would not use a very light chain on a 100 pound dog.
When using a training collar, it is very important to place the collar on the dog properly. The collar must be placed on the dog properly in order to be effective.
It is relatively easy to determine the length of training collar your dog needs. The appropriate size of the collar is the distance around the animal’s neck, plus 2-3 inches. Since training collars are usually made in even sizes, it may be necessary to round up to find the right size. When measuring, be sure to not make the tape measure too tight. The training collar will need to fit snugly, but not too tight. It is important that the pressure on the training collar be instantly relieved when the leash is slackened.
If the training collar is too tight, the pressure will not be relieved when you loosen the leash. If the collar is too loose, on the other hand, it could accidentally slip off the dog when he lowers his head.
When putting the training collar on the dog, it is important that the end of the chain that attaches to the leash is on the top of the dog’s neck. This is important in order for the collar to function as intended. It is important that the training collar loosen properly when the leash is slackened and that it tighten instantly to provide the sharp correction when needed.
If the connecting piece of the training collar is placed anywhere except on the top of the dog’s head, the training collar will not loosen properly when the leash is slackened. This constant pressure on the training collar will be counterproductive, since the dog will not understand what is being asked of it or why the pressure is not being relieved when it does as it is asked.
There are many devices used in the world of dog training and some are obviously more effective than others. One of the dog training devices that does work well, however, is known collectively as the head collar.
The head collar is a device that is designed to wrap around the nose of the dog and then attach behind the head. It uses the pressure points on the dog’s nose and head to apply pressure which stops the dog from pulling, jumping and straining against the leash.
Many people who see head collars mistake them for muzzles. This can make many people nervous when the dog is out and about, and it bothers some dog owners as well. Beyond that, however, the head collar can be a valuable training tool for many dogs, particularly large breeds that may have learned their own strength and are difficult to control with a normal buckle collar.
There are two main brands of head collar on the market, the Halti and the Gentle Leader. Most people find the Gentle Leader easier to use than the Halti. In addition, the Gentle Leader is designed to fasten around the dog’s neck. With this design, if the dog manages to remove the muzzle portion, it is still wearing a collar. While it is difficult for most dogs to get out of the muzzle portion of a head collar, some dogs do figure out how to perform this trick.
The Halti version, on the other hand, generally provides better control of the dog and it is often favoured with those working with large, aggressive dogs for that reason.
Training the dog with a head collar is often easier for beginning dog trainers and inexperienced dog owners than is training with a regular buckle color. Head collars are quite good at stopping even the strongest dogs from pulling and straining, since these devices use leverage to give the handler more control.
Head collars are often favoured by many people for handling dogs in difficult situations, such as being around other dogs or taking a trip to the vet. A head collar can be quite effective at controlling the dog in frightening and difficult situations, even when it is not used for regular training.
It is better, actually, to use head collars as occasional training tools or reminders, not as a replacement for a regular buckle collar or training collar. That is because many dogs quickly learn to tell the difference between the head collar and the normal collar and adjust their behaviour accordingly. Therefore, the dog that behaves perfectly while wearing the head collar may suddenly jump and strain out of control when returned to the regular collar.
That fact, of course, points up the limitation of any training device, even one as effective as a head collar. The goal of any quality dog training program should be to create a willing, obedient dog that can be controlled by nothing more than the handler’s voice.
Even if you plan to never allow your dog to go outside without a collar and lead, a well trained dog should be capable of walking with you without a leash, even if there are a great many distractions around. The head collar can help guide you to this goal, but it is till up to you to gain the respect and trust of the dog that will allow it to become a truly well trained member of the family.
If you are unsure how to use a head collar, or if you are unsure if a head collar is right for you, you might want to consult with a dog trainer, your veterinarian or the staff at your local pet store. These experts have probably seen many head collars used, and they may be able to provide valuable insight on the type of training device that will work the best for you.
Chewing is something that comes naturally to every dog. Every dog feels the instinctual need to sharpen its teeth and hone his biting skills. Chewing on the right things, like specially designed chew toys for instance, can even help the dog clean his teeth and remove plaque.
Even though chewing is natural and healthy, that does not mean that the dog should be given carte blanche and allowed to chew everything in sight. It is vital for every dog to learn the difference between the things it is OK to chew on, like toys and ropes, and the things that are off limits, such as carpets, shoes and other items.
When working with a new puppy, it is advisable to keep the puppy in a small, puppy proofed room for at least a few weeks. This is important not only to prevent chewing but to properly house train the puppy as well.
Older dogs should also be confined to a small area at first. Doing this allows the dog to slowly acquaint him or herself to the smells and sights of the new household.
When you set up this small, confined area, be sure to provide the puppy or dog with a few good quality chew toys to keep him entertained while you are not able to supervise him. Of course the dog should also be provided with a warm place to sleep and plenty of fresh clean water.
As the dog is slowly moved to larger and larger portions of the home, there may be more opportunities to chew inappropriate items. As the dog is given freer access to the home, it is important to keep any items that the dog or puppy should not chew, things like throw rugs, shoes, etc. up off of the floor. If you forget to move something and come home to find that the dog has chewed it, resist the urge to punish or yell at the dog. Instead, distract the dog with one of its favorite toys and remove the inappropriate item from its mouth.
The dog should then be provided with one of its favorite toys. Praise the dog extensively when it picks up and begins to chew its toy. This will help to teach the dog that it gets rewarded when it chews certain items, but not when it chews other items.
Teaching the dog what is appropriate to chew is very important, not only for the safety of your expensive furniture and rugs, but for the safety of the dog as well. Many dogs have chewed through dangerous items like extension cords and the like. This of course can injure the dog severely or even spark a fire.
Most dogs learn what to chew and what not to chew fairly quickly, but others are obviously going to be faster learners than others. Some dogs chew because they are bored, so providing the dog with lots of toys and solo activities is very important. It is also a good idea to schedule several play times every day, with one taking place right before you leave every day. If the dog is thoroughly tired after his or her play session, chances are he or she will sleep the day away.
Other dogs chew to exhibit separation anxiety. Many dogs become very nervous when their owners leave and some dogs become concerned each time that the owner may never come back. This stress can cause the dog to exhibit all manners of destructive behaviour, including chewing soiling the house. If separation anxiety is the root of the problem, the reasons for it must be addressed and the dog assured that you will return.
This is best done by scheduling several trips in and out of the home every day and staggering the times of those trips in and out. At first the trips can be only a few minutes, with the length slowly being extended as the dog’s separation anxiety issues improve.
Bringing a new puppy into the household is always an exciting and fun time. Everyone wants to play with, cuddle and hold the little ball of fur. The last thing on the minds of most new puppy owners is training the new addition, but it is important that puppy training and socialization begin as early as possible.
Socializing a new puppy is a vital part of any training program, and it is important for socialization to begin early. The window for socialization is very short and a puppy that is not properly socialized to people, dogs and other animals by the time he or she is four months old often never develops the socialization he or she needs to become a good canine citizen.
Learning how to interact with other dogs is something that normally would occur between littermates. However, since most dogs are removed from their mothers so soon, this littermate socialization often does not finish properly.
One vital lesson puppies learn from their littermates and from the mother dog is how to bite and how not to bite. Puppies naturally roughhouse with each other and their thick skin protects them from most bites. However, when one puppy bites too hard, the other puppies, or the mother dog, quickly reprimand him, often by holding him by the scruff of his neck until he submits.
The best way to socialize your puppy is to have it play with lots of other puppies. It is also fine for the puppy to play with a few adult dogs, as long as they are friendly and well socialized. Many communities have puppy playschool and puppy kindergarten classes. These classes can be a great way to socialize any puppy and for handler and puppy alike to learn some basic obedience skills.
When socializing puppies, it is best to let them play on their own and work out their own issues when it comes to appropriate roughness of play. The only time the owners should step in is if one puppy is hurting another, or if a serious fight breaks out. Other than that the owners should simply stand back and watch their puppies interact.
While this socialization is taking place, the pack hierarchy should quickly become apparent. There will be some puppies who are ultra submissive, rolling on their backs and baring their throats at the slightest provocation. Other puppies in the class will be dominant, ordering the other puppies around and telling them what to do. Watching the puppies play, and determining what type of personality traits your puppy has, will be very valuable in determining the best way to proceed with more advanced training.
As the socialization process proceeds, of course, it will be necessary to introduce the puppy to all sorts of humans as well as all sorts of puppies. Fortunately, the puppy kindergarten class makes this process quite easy, since every puppy gets to interact with every human. It is important that the puppy be exposed to men, and women, old people and children. Dogs do not see every human as the same. To a dog, a man and a woman are completely different animals.
It is also important to introduce the puppy to a variety of other animals, especially in a multi pet household. Introducing the puppy to friendly cats is important, as are introductions to other animals the puppy may encounter, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and the like. If your household contains a more exotic creature, it is important to introduce the puppy to it as early as possible, but to do it in a way that is safe for both animals.
It is often best to start by introducing the puppy to the smell of the other animal. This can be easily accomplished by placing a piece of the animals bedding, like a towel or bed liner, near where the puppy sleeps. Once the puppy is accustomed to the smell of the other creature, he or she is much more likely to accept the animal as just another member o the family.
Teaching a dog proper behaviour while it is young is very important. While playing and having fun with your new puppy or dog is certainly important, it is also important to teach your canine companion just what is expected – which behaviours are acceptable and which behaviours are not acceptable.
Teaching these lessons early, while the dog is still a puppy, is the best guarantee that these lessons will be learned and retained. Dogs learn quickly and every interaction between human and dog is teaching the dog something. Making sure you are teaching the right lessons is up to you as the dog handler.
Proper training techniques are important for the protection of the dog as well as the protection of the family and the community at large. While dogs are loving, protecting members of the family in most cases, a poorly trained dog can be dangerous and destructive. Making sure your new addition is a pleasure to be around and not a menace is up to you as the owner.
The relationship between humans and dogs goes back for many thousands of years and dogs have been domesticated longer than any other animals. Therefore, humans and dogs have developed a bond not shared by many other domesticated animals. This strong bond is very useful when training any dog.
All potential dog owners and would be dog trainers should understand how dog society works in the absence of humans. It is important to understand the pack hierarchy and to use that hierarchy to your advantage as you train your dog. All pack animals have a lead animal, in the case of dogs it is the alpha dog. All other members of the pack look to the alpha dog for direction and guidance. The alpha dog in turn provides important leadership in hunting, fending off other predators, protecting territory and other vital survival skills. This pack arrangement is what has allowed wolves and wild dogs to be such successful predators, even as other large predators have been driven to extinction.
What all this means to you as the dog trainer is that you must set yourself up as the pack leader – the alpha dog if you will – in order to gain the respect and trust of your dog. If the dog does not recognize you as is superior and its leader, you will not get very far in your training program.
Training dogs using positive reinforcement and reward training has long been recognized as both highly effective for the owner and a positive experience for the dog. Positive reinforcement training is so important that it is the only method used to train dangerous animals like lions and tigers for work in tourist educational establishments and in the movie and television industry. Proponents of positive reinforcement swear by the effectiveness of their techniques and it is true that the vast majority of dogs respond well to these training methods.
One reason that positive reinforcement training is so effective is that is uses rewards to teach the dog what is expected of it. When the dog performs the desired behaviour, he is provided with a reward, most often in the form of a food treat, but it could be a scratch behind the ears, a rub under the chin or a pat on the head as well. The important thing is that the dog is rewarded consistently for doing the right thing.
Reward training has become increasingly popular in recent years, but chances are some sort of reward training between humans and dogs has been going on for hundreds if not thousands of years.
When understanding what makes reward training so effective, some knowledge of the history of humans and dogs is very helpful. The earliest dogs were probably wolf pups that were tamed and used by early humans for protection from predators, as alarm systems and later for guarding and herding livestock. It is possible that the wolf pups that made the best companions were the most easily trained, or it is possible that these early dogs were orphaned or abandoned wolf pups. Whatever their origin, there is little doubt today that the vast variety of dogs we see today have their origin in the humble wolf.
Wolf packs, like packs of wild dogs, operate on a strict pack hierarchy. Since wolf and dog packs hunt as a group, this type of hierarchy, and the cooperation it brings, is essential to the survival of the species. Every dog in the pack knows his or her place in the pack and except in the event of death or injury, the hierarchy, once established, rarely changes.
Every dog, therefore, is hard wired by nature to look to the pack leader for guidance. The basis of all good dog training, including reward based training, is for the handler to set him or herself up as the pack leader. The pack leader is more than just the dominant dog, or the one who tells all the subordinates what to do. More importantly, the pack leader provides leadership and protection and his or her leadership is vital to the success and survival of the pack.
It is important for the dog to see itself as part of a pack, to recognize the human as the leader of that pack and to respect his or her authority. Some dogs are much easier to dominate than others. If you watch a group of puppies playing for a little while, you will quickly recognize the dominant and submissive personalities.
A dog with a more submissive personality will generally be easier to train using positive reinforcement, since he or she will not want to challenge the handler for leadership. Even dominant dogs, however, respond very well to positive reinforcement. There are, in fact, few dogs that do not respond well to positive reinforcement, also known as reward training.
Positive reinforcement is also the best way to retrain a dog that has behaviour problems, especially one that has been abused in the past. Getting the respect and trust of an abused dog can be very difficult and positive reinforcement is better than any other training method at creating this important bond.
No matter what type of dog you are working with, chances are it can be helped with positive reinforcement training methods. Based training methods on respect and trust, rather than on intimidation and fear, is the best way to get the most from any dog.
The leash and training collar is the most basic piece of equipment used in training a dog. Using the lead and training collar properly is vital to successful dog training. The training collar is designed to apply a specific amount of pressure each time the leash is tightened. The amount of pressure put on the leash controls the amount of pressure placed on the training collar and the pressure can be adjusted according to how the dog responds.
How each dog responds to training with the leash and training collar is quite variable. Some dogs barely react the first time they encounter a collar and leash, while others fight this strange contraption with all their might. It is important to recognize how your own dog reacts and to adapt your training program as needed.
The first part of training with collar and leash, of course, is to purchase a quality, well made training collar that will fit your dog properly. There are many types of training collars and leashes on the market. The most important thing is to choose one that is sturdy and well made. The last thing you want to do is chase your dog down after he has broken his collar.
The length of the collar should be approximately two inches longer than the circumference of the dog’s neck. It is important to accurately measure the dog’s neck using a measuring tape. In order to get an accurate measurement, you must make sure that the tape is not tight around the dog’s neck.
Most training collars come in even sizes, so you should round up to the next size if your dog’s neck is an odd number. It is important that the chain that attaches to the collar be placed at the top of the dog’s neck. That is where the training collar is designed to apply the best pressure.
The ability to apply varying degrees of pressure and to relieve that pressure instantly, is what makes a training collar such an effective tool. It usually takes new users a little while to get used to using the training collar and some styles of training collar require more finesse than others. If you are unsure which collar to choose, be sure to ask a professional dog trainer, or the management staff at your local pet store, for help.
After you have become familiar with the way the training collar works, it is time to begin using it to train your dog to walk properly on a lead. The well trained dog is one who will walk at his owner’s side on a loose lead, neither dropping behind nor charging ahead.
The well trained dog will also vary his pace to meet that of his handler. Under no circumstances should the handler be forced to change his or her pace to match that of the dog.
If the dog does begin to charge ahead, it is important to correct the dog promptly by giving a quick tug on the leash. This will give the dog a good reminder that he needs to change his pace. It is important to quickly relieve the pressure as soon as the dog responds. The training collar is designed to relieve pressure as soon as the leash is loosened.
Most dogs will immediately respond to corrections by a good, properly used training collar. If the dog does not respond as directed, it may be necessary to apply greater pressure. This can be especially true of large dogs or those who have pre-existing behavior or control problems. If you are still unable to get a response from your dog, it is possible that you are using a training collar that is not large enough for your dog. If you think this may be the case, be sure to ask for expert advice before proceeding.
In order to be considered properly trained, there are some basic commands that he or she must master. Understanding these basic commands is vital to the well being of the dog, the owner and the family.
Learning just a few basic commands can go a long way toward creating a dog that is a joy to be around. Everyone has seen examples of both well trained and poorly trained dogs, and few people would opt for the poorly trained varieties. Training a dog properly the first time is especially vital for owners of dog breeds that have been bred for their aggressiveness, such as pit bulls, Doberman pinchers and German shepherds.
In addition, proper training is important for families with young children. Young children can torment dogs and cause biting reactions, so it is important that the dog learn how to deal with these types of situations.
The basic obedience commands that every dog must know are – “Heel”, “No”, “Sit”, “Stay”, “Down” and “Off”. These six commands form the basis of every basic obedience class and it is vital that you and your dog master these basic commands. These are the fundamentals and it will be impossible to move onto other commands, or to correct problem behaviors, without having mastered the basics.
Let’s start with the most basic command of all, the heel command. Teaching a dog to heel is the fundamental first step in teaching the dog to walk properly on the lead. The proper place for the dog to walk is at your side, neither lagging behind nor straining to get ahead.
If your dog begins to forge ahead on the lead, gently tug on the lead. This will cause the training collar to tighten and give the dog a gentle reminder to fall back into line. If the dog begins to lag behind, gently urge him forward. A lure or toy is a good tool for the dog that constantly lags behind.
Once the dog is consistently walking at your side, try changing your pace and encouraging the dog to match his pace with yours. It should always be the dog who adjusts his pace to you; you should never adjust your pace to meet the needs of the dog.
The word “No”
The word no is an important one for your dog to learn, and one you may be using a lot as training begins. It is important that the dog learn to respond to a sharp “No” promptly and obediently.
The “Sit” command
The sit command is another vital link in the chain that is dog training. Teaching a dog to sit on command, using voice commands alone, will form the groundwork of much future training, so it is important for the dog to master this vital skill.
The sit command can be combined with the heel command. As you walk alongside your dog, stop abruptly. If your dog does not stop when you do, give a sharp tug on the leash to remind the dog. Many dogs will instinctively stop when you do, while others need to be reminded through the use of the lead and the training collar.
Once the dog has stopped by your side, urge him to sit by pushing gently on his hindquarters. It is important not to use too much pressure, or to push him down abruptly. Doing so could frighten, or even injure the dog. Rather, apply a steady downward pressure. Most dogs will recognize this as a sit command. It is important to say the word sit as you do this.
Repeat this procedure a few times by walking, stopping and sitting your dog. After a few repetitions, the dog will probably begin to sit down on his own every time he stops. It is important to say the word sit each time, so that the dog will eventually learn to respond to voice commands alone.
The “Stay” command
Like the sit command, the stay command is a vital building block to other, more advanced training. For instance, the stay command is vital to teaching the dog to come when called, which is in turn vital to off leash work.
The stay command can be made into an extension of the sit command. Have your dog sit and while he is sitting, slowly back away. If the dog begins to follow you, as he probably will it first, come back to the dog and ask him to sit again. Repeat the process until you can reach the end of the lead without your dog getting up from a sitting position.
After the dog is reliably staying where you indicate, you can try dropping the lead and backing further away. It will probably take the dog some time to reliably stay where he is put without becoming distracted.
The “Down” command
The down command is another important part of any basic obedience training program. Teaching a dog to lie down on command is much more than an entertaining trick. The down command is very important in regaining control of a dog, or stopping a dog who is engaged in an inappropriate behavior.
The “Off” command
The off command is just as vital to as the other commands and it forms the basis for later training, especially when training the dog not to chase people, cars, bikes, cats, etc.
For instance, when training a dog to remain still when a bicycle goes by, the owner would stand with the dog calmly on the lead. If the dog begins to strain against the lead, the owner sharply issues an “Off” command accompanied by a tug of the lead. Eventually the dog will learn to respond to the voice command alone.
One of the most serious, and unfortunately most common, problem behaviours among dogs is that of chasing cars. Dogs must be trained as early as possible that chasing cars is not acceptable. That is because dogs that chase cars eventually become dogs that catch cars and car plus dog always equals big trouble.
There are many reasons that dogs chase cars. For one thing, chasing moving objects is an ingrained, instinctual behavior that can never be completely removed. Chasing behaviours however can and should be controlled through a combination of good training and supervision.
Some dogs are more apt to chase cars, bikes, joggers, cats and other dogs than are others. Dogs that have a high prey drive, including breeds that have been bred for hunting, are particularly susceptible to the thrill of the chase. Herding breeds are also apt to chase cars, attempt to herd the neighbour’s children, or express other undesired traits of their breeding.
One reason that many dogs chase cars in particular is that they have learned to associate cars with good time and fun things. Most dogs love to ride in the car and when they see a car they may try to chase it down for a ride.
No matter what your dog’s motivation for chasing cars, however, it is important to curb this dangerous behaviour as quickly as possible. Training the dog not to chase cars starts with teaching the dog the meaning of the “Off” command. The “Off” command is one of the basic tenets of obedience and it must be mastered by every dog.
Teaching the dog to stay where he is, even if interesting, exciting things are happening elsewhere, is very important to all aspects of dog training. In the world of professional dog training, this is sometimes referred to as distraction training. Distraction training is very important and it is applicable to teaching the dog not to chase cars.
Teaching this important lesson is not something you will be able to do on your own. You will need at least one other person – a volunteer who will slowly drive by and tempt your car with his bright, shiny object. You will stand with your dog on his lead as the volunteer drives by. Having the volunteer drive your own car can provide an even greater temptation, since dogs are able to distinguish one car from another. If your car is the one that provides his rides, it is likely to be the most tempting object in the world.
When your friend drives by, either in your car or his, watch your dog’s reaction carefully. If he begins to jump up or move away, repeat the “Off” command and quickly return your dog to the sitting position. If he remains where he is, be sure to give him lavish amounts of praise and perhaps a treat or two.
Repeat this process many times over the course of a few days. Once your dog is reliably remaining seated when your friend drives by, start lengthening the distance between yourself and your dog. A long, retractable lead works great for this process. Slowly lengthen the distance between you and your dog, while still making sure you have control.
Even after your dog is trained to not chase cars, however, it is important to not leave him out off the lead unsupervised. Leaving a dog unattended, except for within a properly and securely fenced in garden, is simply asking for trouble. Dogs are unpredictable, and it is always possible that the chase instinct could kick in at exactly the wrong moment. The best strategy is to confine the dog when you cannot supervise him.