Training Equipment for Dogs
To properly train your dog, it’s important to have the right equipment. The pet supply industry offers an array of collars, leashes, and other training devices that can prove helpful when teaching your dog the ropes.
The kind of collar you choose for your dog depends on the type and level of training you;re pursuing and on you dog’s individual personality. When training young puppies, the best type of collar to use is a flat buckle collar made either of nylon or leather. This is the most basic collar and will help your puppy get used to wearing something around his neck.
For training older puppies and adult dogs, particularly those who are difficult to control, a chain collar (sometimes called a choke collar) is popular. People use chain collars to apply pressure around the dog’s neck to check unwanted behavior. It’s important to put this collar on correctly. (The chain must be looped through the ring properly so it releases when pressure is removed), and to never leave it on a dog when he is unsupervised.
Not all trainers like these collars (including myself). Because they can cause tracheal injuries when used incorrectly, and they rely on negative reinforcement in the form of pain to teach a behavior. They are still a mainstay in some training classes, though and are often used when training high-energy or stubborn dogs.
A milder version of the chain collar is the half-check collar. Half-check collars are usually leather or nylon with a small section of the chain that attaches to the leash. These collars provide less pressure than a chain collar during training but more than a flat buckle collar. The hal-check collar has become increasingly popular as an alternative to the sometimes controversial choke collar.
Another alternative to the choke collar is the traditional Martingale collar, which is essentially a soft choke collar made of leather, nylon or cotton. It consists of a double loop with a larger neck loop and a smaller control loop the tightens when the dog pulls.
The benefit of the Martingale collar is that it provides control but tightens only to a certain point so the dog is not choked. The Martingale collar was originally developed for sight hounds and other dogs whose necks are larger than their heads. It has become increasingly popular with trains because it provides excellent control. It may also be called a limited or partial slip collar. The prong collar is also considered controversial because of its potential for misuse in the wrong hand and its dependence on negative reinforcement.
This is a metal chain coll with tips that point inward toward the dog’s neck. When the dog pulls, the points put considerable pressure on the dog’s neck, thus discouraging pulling. Many trainers believe that prong collars are a valuable training tool if used by a knowledgeable trainer but they don’t recommend these collars for inexperienced dog owners.
Another collar that should be used only with the assistance of a professional trainer is the electric collar, also know as the shock collar. This collar features a battery operated mechanism that a person can use to administer a moderate shock to the dog’s neck when he does something he shouldn’t. It is often used for excessive barking (the dog is automatically shocked when he barks) and for training at long distances; for example, when teaching a dog to hunt in the field.
Some trainers believe electric collars are useful for dogs who do not respond to other types of training. But many people, including a number of trainers and animal welfare activists, feel these collars are inhumane. A gentler way to keep dogs from barking excessively is the citronella collar. This device automatically shoots off a spray of harmless citronella when the dog barks, providing an odor that is unpleasant to the dog and thus acts as a correction.
A gentle alternative to using collars for training is the head halter, which is much like the halter used on a horse. A head halter for dogs takes advantage of the dog’s natural behavior by exerting slight pressure on the back of the dog’s neck and muzzle, which causes him to pull backward rather than forward, and reestablishes the handler’s position of top dog. Halters are designed to help train dogs who have a tendency to pull on a leash.
Slip collars are a combination of collar and leash, which are used primarily by dog show exhibitors. They consist of a thin rope of nylon with a slip knot loop at the end that slips easily on and off a dog’s head. Slip collars are designed for dogs who are well-trained.
There are two different types of harnesses: those used for training and those used as an alternative to collars for small dogs with fragile necks, medical conditions, such as a collapsed trachea, and a history of escaping from collars. The leash attaches to a tab at the back of the harness rather than at the neck.
Standard harnesses are designed to attach to a leash without any additional control. Training harnesses have straps designed to restrain the front part of the dog’s torso and chest, gently discouraging a dog’s tendency to pull. This is the kind of restraint I use on my dogs. To me, it’s the most humane.
An assortment of leashes can be found on the market today, each with its own practical aesthetic appeal. When purchasing a leash a consider consider your dog’s size and age, keeping in mind that small dogs should have lightweight leashes and large dogs should have stronger, heavier leashes. Length is also a factor. Most leashes come in 4 foot 6 foot, or 8 foot lengths. For basic training, 6 foot leashes are usually recommended. The longer leashes are used when training requires you to be farther from your dog.
Leashes come in a variety of materials. The most cost-effective leash on the market today is the nylon leash. Available in a variety of colors and designs, nylon leashes are adequate for most dogs and are consistently popular. They are used both in training and for every day. But for those who are willing to spend a little extra for something nice, the leash of choice is made of leather.
These leashes are luxurious and attractive, strong and easy to grip. A cotton leash is easier on the hands than nylon or leather, especially if the dog tends to pull. It is lightweight and durable. Cotton leashes can be found in lengths up to 30 feet, making them valuable for training sessions in unenclosed outdoor areas.
Retractable leashes can also be quite long. I use this one myself. They extend retract with the dog as he moves around. A retractable leash is not recommended for dogs who aren’t yet trained to walk calmly of a fixed length leash. Some trainers believe these leashes encourage dogs to pull. A retractable leash also provides less control than a standard leash, yet I still think they are the best.
If you plan to leave a leash on your dog in the house so you can train him more easily, a drag leash is your best option. This Light-weight leash does not have a handle loop at the end so it can be safely dragged by our dog without the possibility of snagging on furniture or getting caught in his legs.
For situations when you need to keep your dog close to you, a traffic leash can be useful. Usually mad of leather, traffic leashes are between 15 to18 inches long and feature a large handle lop. A large dog can easily be held close to your body if equipped with a traffic leash.
For training on agility equipment or in any other activity that involves obstacles, many people prefer to use a training tab, a short leash about 8 inches long. The benefit of the training tab is that it doe not get caught in equipment or tangled in a dog’s legs, but i still allows you some control over the dog, either when leading him through an obstacle or catching him as he tries to run off. It’s especially useful for you, exuberant dogs who become overexcited during training sessions.
What We Have Learned
Today we have learned about the major types of collars, harnesses, and leashes for your dog. The are pluses and benefits to each as we have seen, but I like the body harness for a body collar, and a retractable leash for my dogs. Click here to find leashes and collars.
Please feel free to leave comments, I will get back to you.