Training your dog should be a fun and happy experience! Here are 5 training tools to help you get started on your journey.
1. Training Treats
Using treats in training is a simple and easy way to tell dogs that what they are doing is something we like! The more we reward them for those behaviours, the more they will be repeated. Quick training tip: present the treats after your dog performs the behaviour, not before. This will prevent your dog from learning that seeing the treats is part of the cue for performing the behaviour. Use a treat bag to make it easy to carry and deliver the treats!
Find a high value treat that your dog loves to keep them focused and engaged. The more difficult the behaviour, the higher the treat value should be! Every dog's preferences are different and they decide what is high value to them, so give them a range of treats to try!
- Wild Weenies are all natural, 100% freeze dried raw treats, made from 97% muscle meat and organ meat. They are easy to break into small pieces for training and you can choose from 6 different flavours.
- Purebites Freeze-Dried Cheddar Cheese is made with 100% American Cheddar, a great source of protein and calcium. The fresh flavour of cheese is preserved during the freeze-dry process, satisfying your dog's taste buds.
- Ziwipeak's Gently Air-Dried Recipes are technically a meal, but they are so delicious your dog will love them as a treat as well! They are made from ethically raised protein sources in New Zealand, with all the nutrition and flavour locked in as they are air-dried.
Find more of your dog's favourite treats at Whiskers N Paws!
Dogs love treats, which make them a direct reward or a “primary reinforcer”. You must give a reinforcer immediately after the desired behaviour in order for your dog to learn what exact behaviour you want. Sometimes this is not possible with a primary reinforcer due to human delay, or if your dog needs to be far away from you to perform the behaviour. This is why many people use a clicker.
A clicker is a simple and easy to use device that makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed. The clicker itself is meaningless to a dog, but when the click is paired with a primary reinforcer, like a treat, it becomes a versatile training tool that you can use to teach any behaviour! Every time your dog hears the click they get a treat, so the clicker becomes a “secondary reinforcer” and your dog becomes excited to earn each click.
Use the clicker as a clear signal to mark the exact moment that they have performed the behaviour you want, and then deliver the treat. Always give a treat or another primary reinforcer after every click, otherwise the clicker will lose its meaning again.
3. Skip to My Loo
Make potty training easier with Petsafe Skip To My Loo. It is a scientifically formulated solution designed to mimic the scent of animal urine which encourages your dog to use their designated toilet area. Set up their toilet using a wee pan and wee pads and spray some Skip to My Loo on it. It is safe for humans, pets, and the environment. You can also use it outdoors if that's where you prefer your dog to go. When your dog pees in the correct location, click and reward them for a job well done!
4. Long Leash
A long leash gives you and your dog much more flexibility during walks and hikes. Giving your dog more freedom to sniff and walk ahead will improve loose leash walking, since your dog will learn that they don't need to pull in order to get to sniff what they want. You can also use a long leash to practice recall safely. The Four Paws Cotton Web Training Lead is 30 feet long, letting your dog explore and play while still being connected to you.
Quick training tip: many people see recall as a single behaviour, but it can actually be broken down into many steps, including your dog looking back at you, turning their body towards you, coming towards you, and staying by your side. Practice all of these steps in low distraction environments before trying it outdoors! Remember to use a clicker and treats to mark and reward the behaviours. The more a behaviour is rewarded, the more it will be repeated!
5. Enrichment Toys
Sometimes training doesn’t involve direct teaching at all. Meeting our dog's natural needs can improve many of the behaviours we find undesirable! Make sure your dog has some enrichment toys to stimulate their brain and senses. If they love to shred and rip things apart, give them a safe cardboard box to have fun with. If they love to sniff and forage for food, try a puzzle toy to engage their nose and mind. Feed from a West Paw Toppl or a Classic Kong toy to let your dog lick and chew to their heart's content. Many behaviours that we don't like are perfectly normal for a dog. Give them a safe outlet for those behaviours and everyone will be happier!
At the end of the day, remember that training is not just about obedience, it is about communicating to build stronger rapport and a beautiful relationship with our dogs. Have fun, and happy training!