What must you have to train your dog? A leash/lead, a collar, some treats, props for certain tricks, patience, time, a dog to train…yes. But apart from the patience, time, and dog, there are some tools that are better than others.
Leashes/ leads: It is really important to have a good leash for your dog. For example, a two-foot, chain-collar showmanship lead like they use in dog shows will not work unless you have a well-trained show dog. A short, slip-on agility lead is only useful for getting a dog onto an agility course and then letting him run. A seven-foot leash that either attaches to Rover’s collar or has a slip-on collar attached to it is what you want. If your county has a 4-H Dog Club, they probably sell leashes. Mine did, and that’s where I got my leather leash that’s lasted seven years and counting!
Collars: A normal dog collar works great. Please make sure the collar is the right size for your dog. If you have a huge dog, you need to make sure that you find a heavy duty, stable collar that won’t break or come apart easily for a while. Once he’s started getting into the habit of obeying, you can switch it for a regular collar if you want. Using choke or shock collars work but only because he’s obeying out of fear of being hurt by you, not out of positive motivations like wanting to make you happy or wanting that tasty morsel in your hand. Trust me! You want a happy dog that obeys commands to please you instead of fear you.
Treats: And speaking of tasty morsels in your hand…DO NOT use large treats unless you can break then into little bitty bits. If you give your dog a medium or large treat every time she does something right, she will get very fat. And that is really bad for her. Small training treats like you can buy at PetSmart (Susie, one dog I trained, liked Pet Botanics Training Reward Beef&Brown Rice treats). Also, PetCo’s Canine Carry Outs work great because you can tear them up. You can get them really cheap at Wal-Mart. (Smiley loves Canine Carry Outs of any flavor: beef, chicken, bacon…) Many trainers will suggest you use tiny bits of hot dogs or cooked chicken.