To train dogs properly, you need the proper equipment. That’s really true of any job, sport or hobby. It’s difficult to play tennis without a racket. It’s hard to sew without a needle. Don’t use a hammer when a pen will do. You wouldn’t go snowshoeing in flip-flops, would you?
Dog training is no different. You need the right tools for the job, and different dogs need different tools. The collar and fit of that collar are important. The length of your leash can determine your reaction time. If you left your treats at home, you’re going to have a difficult time rewarding your dog for the correct behaviors! Learning a long-distance recall requires a long line. Your dog training equipment is like your MasterCard, and you should “never leave home without it.”
Yes, your dog’s accouterments are very important to the training task at hand, but what about your gear? Flip-flops do not make good dog training shoes. Motivational learning requires speed, and heeling turns are much harder to do in Jimmy Choos, than Nikes. In cold weather, don’t forget your gloves. And when working with a long-line, WEAR JEANS or other long pants with heavy material.
When Haiku was 4 months old, I took her to a park to do some training around distractions. It was a hot day, and I had short capri pants on. She was wearing her harness and a 20ft long line. Haiku was doing great! She was flying towards me for recalls and her change of positions were coming along. Haiku is so strong, so agile so swift – people often stop to watch our training and comment on her speed and intensity. At only 30 pounds and four months old, she rivaled most dogs in speed and agility. I was so engrossed with our connection, that I didn’t notice the woman and her large dog (on a flexi-line, weaving and pulling completely out of control) closing in on us to ‘meet and talk to us’, until Haiku did.
Haiku was surprised by the dog barreling towards her, and she charged, barking in protest. She looped around my legs in the blink of an eye, and shot forward towards the offending aggressor. The long line tightened, ripping through the skin of both my legs.
I didn’t have to say anything to the woman. The look on my face told her everything she needed to know, and she abruptly changed direction. I assessed my wounds and returned to office to try to clean myself up.
Within two days I developed a raging infection. I will probably carry the scar for the rest of my life. I can assure you the whole situation would have gone from bad to worse, had the dog been one of my much bigger and stronger adult dogs and not my pup.
I probably would have walked away with nothing more than torn pants if I were wearing jeans. Luckily, I was working on a thick longline, but this is a factor in considering whether or not you should be using a flex-leash. The cords on these devices are super thin. They can cut to the bone like cheese cords through brie. It may be an appropriate tool for a dog who is already well trained, but the average dog on a walk is *usually not that.
Don’t use equipment you haven’t been trained on. And don’t believe the hype about training tools or take it at face value. Head collars, harnesses, flexi-leashes, prong collars, muzzles, ecollars, chain collars, martingales, and flat collars all have their place and value in dog training. It’s the user, not the tool that matters. If you are properly trained in the usage of each tool, your dog will be comfortable, obedient and happy in its presence. ANY training tool can be damaging to the dog when used inappropriately, including FOOD! Flat collars can cause tracheal collapse if your dog pulls too often and too hard on the leash. Electronic collars can cause pressure wounds, if the probes are not regularly rotated on the neck. Harnesses can cause skeletal damage from leaning into then and misaligning your dog’s gate. Find a professional you trust to explain the pros and cons of each training tool you might be interested in.
Lastly, next time you and the pack venture out, be sure that everyone, dogs and people, have the proper equipment for the job.
Here are some of our favorite dog training products: