Authored by Douglas Mefford in Dogs
Published on 03-05-2009
Despite their having been a domesticated animal since pre-historic times, your dog still requires training to make it a safe and socially responsible pet. The time taken to work with your pet so that he understands what is expected of him and what behavior to avoid can be aided by a few basic dog-training tools.
The single most important tool in training your dog is the leash. Without a way to keep your dog beside you and where you want him, you have no real control. You will most likely spend most of your time trying to coax him back toward you or setting up the bad habit of having to bribe your pet with a food treat to get it to come to you. The type of dog you have determines the type of leash you use. A six-foot length is sufficient for most dogs whether large or small. This provides enough freedom of movement to feel comfortable but still keeps the pet well within your area of control.
Leashes come in a variety of materials from thin vinyl to leather to metal chain. The activity of your dog should determine the best material. A small, mellow dog will do fine on a thin vinyl leash. A more aggressive dog, which has a tendency to pull or try to jump up on people, will require either a thicker width of leash or a stronger material. Large dogs that like to pull away will most likely require a chain leash.
A collar is the second essential training tool for helping teach your dog how to behave. Again, there are several types that offer specific benefits depending on the type of dog you have and its normal behavior patterns. A flat collar does not offer a great deal of control as it is primarily used to hold the license and medical tags. A dog that is prone to pulling away can also slip a flat collar.
Often confused with a prong collar, the choke chain collar is not always very effective and, improperly used, can cause injury to the dog’s throat. For training purposes the prong chain is much better and despite its look, is less dangerous to the dog than a choke chain. The prong collar is metal and has a varying number of extending prongs that, when the leash is pulled, will press these prongs firmly against the skin of the dog’s throat. These type collars give the best control, especially with large breed dogs and the very strong. While the prongs may cause the animal to desist to avoid pain from the increased pressure from the prongs, it will not choke them into unconsciousness. The biggest danger from a prong collar is if it is improperly placed on your dog.
Electronic collars proved a way to train your dog through aversion therapy even at a distance or, in the case of electronic fences, without even being around. While this can work effectively, they are too often misused as punishment rather than training. They are also very ineffective on a large, aggressive dog as he may more easily overcome the discomfort of the electrical shock and ignore it altogether.
Anyone who has ever had experience with a dog knows that food and treats are the ultimate reward for good behavior. A small bag to carry reward treats to offer for well-performed tasks can help you keep from having to always be cleaning crumbs out of your pockets. It will also help train your dog to not expect such treats in yours or anyone else’s clothing. While it is an intangible tool in the effective training of your dog; patience, love and affection during the time spent with your pet in showing it how to behave in human company will carry more weight in his learning what you expect of him than any material object you can bring to the lesson.