5 Must-Have Dog Training Tools In 2023
There are so many products available to help you train your puppy or dog that it can make it tough to know where to begin. Here are 5 dog training items I strongly recommend. None of these rely on negative/corrections or punishment and will be sure to help you maintain a great relationship with your dog! 1. Food Puzzles and Snuffle Mats
Though food puzzles and snuffle mats are meant to be used more for feeding, enrichment, and mental stimulation, rather than for dog training, I've included them because these can truly make a world of difference by providing your dog with healthy outlets to their mental energy, which will help them have an easier time focusing during training sessions, as well as taking a break from them and learning how to unwind/regulate their feelings whenever you're both taking a break from your training session. 2. Harnesses There are many different types of harnesses available, but one I prefer using above most is the Freedom (No Pull) Harness, mainly due to the adjustable straps and that it has two clips for your dog's leash to go on. You don't need to use both unless you have a heavy puller, but I definitely prefer using the front clip the most, especially when first starting, as I find it more easily helps guide a dog towards you and walk with you. An important thing to note with harnesses, no matter the harness you choose, is that what will ultimately lead to your dog walking well with it is proper dog training and ongoing access to proper and new physical and mental enrichment outlets. Pairing positive reinforcement with harnesses, as well as practice, patience, and dedication, you will be able to reach your goals! 3. Dog Training/Treat Pouch
The most valuable part of a dog training treat pouch may be the treats for your dogs, but for you is what it represents: timing! Having easy and quick access to a treat (aka a gold star) for when your dog happens to do something you like is key.
Whether it's simply that your dog chose to sit or lay down, or go in their crate without being asked, all and more are wanted behaviours that you want to reinforce, and a treat-filled pouch (you can/should use kibble too) is one of the most practical ways to do it!
4. Tug & Pull Toys
You may be thinking that I'm recommending toys so that your dog can play with them, but I'm really suggesting you get them, especially tug-and-pull toys so that your dog can play WITH you! There is so much bonding, trust, and communication that gets built on and reinforced in a positive and fun way when you play with your dog. If you're unsure what safe and proper play looks like, it's important to reach out to your trainer so they can advise. Just like us, there's a time and place for everything, and making sure that your dog and you are playing at the right time and in the right way will only guarantee you success. Yes, dogs should also be able to play on their own, especially when you're busy. But in order to be as successful as possible with dog training, you want to make sure that you've also truly worked on establishing a great relationship that will encourage and motivate your dog to listen and WANT to train with YOU! 5. Kongs
Kongs are the icing on the cake! After you've provided your dog with mental stimulation outlets (puzzles, snuffle mats, training classes, even nosework!) as well as physical stimulation exercises (fetch, tug and pull games, agility training), dogs don't always know exactly how to help themselves calm down and feel relaxed. This is where items like Kongs and licking mats become super handy. Gnawing, chewing, and licking help dogs, especially puppies, mellow out and be able to settle on their own. BONUS TIP! I strongly recommend considering getting and putting a cat bell on your dog (especially during puppyhood) so that if your dog is sleeping and you hear the bell, it may mean that they're waking up so that you can take them out for a bathroom break and/or can provide them with attention and what they need before they feel the need to practice having to come to you and potentially bark, whine or nip at you to get something to happen. Think of the bells as a 'heads up!', so that your dog learns with time that everything he/she needs is provided first and foremost through patience and waiting, trusting that you know what and when they need things from you.