Having the proper dog training tools is essential whether you want to teach basic obedience or you and your Aussie want to learn specialized skills or tricks. With the right tools, you have a better chance of getting the results you want and training will be a fun experience for both of you. So be sure to start off on the right foot and make learning fun for your Aussie.
The biggest problem with dog training gear is that there is so much of it that it can be hard to know where to begin. You want to determine what you absolutely need, what tools might be nice to have but aren't necessarily essential and what tools you should probably avoid. That can be challenging with the amount of dog training equipment available but common sense should dictate a few things.
Your choice of dog training tools is dictated by your specific approach to training. Some trainers prefer an all-positive approach, using only positive reinforcement, while others also apply negative reinforcement to break bad habits. While the basic tools are the same, the training approach can dictate some differences.
The basic essentials in dog training gear no matter what your approach include a collar, a sturdy leash, a long leash and a clicker. A collar is not only a good safety measure as a place to attach your dog's id tags and his leash, but it can also be a quick means to control him in case of danger or an emergency. The collar should fit comfortably but not be loose enough to let the dog slip out of it.
A sturdy leash is an absolute necessity as far as dog training equipment goes. The recommended leash is a 6 foot length of nylon, although there are many other materials and styles available. For training, you'll want to avoid using a retractable leash as they generally don't allow you enough control.
Long leashes are another great idea for dog training tools but one that often gets overlooked. These are lightweight leashes that range in length from 20 to 100 feet and can allow your dog the feeling of off-leash movement while still allowing you some control. These are especially good for active breeds like the Australian Shepherd that really need to stretch their legs.
A clicker is a piece of dog training gear that isn't considered essential by everyone but it really should be. It's the perfect reinforcement to really lock in verbal commands. Simply issue the command and then press the button on the clicker the moment the dog executes it. Immediately after the sound, you can give a treat for even more reinforcement. After a while, the dog will associate the sound with the command and the reward and make learning easier.
For training Australian Shepherds, especially in the field, you might want to opt for a whistle rather than a clicker as the sound carries further. It can be a great way to issue commands at a distance and ensure perfect communication between dog and owner. The innate intelligence of the Aussie will allow him to pick up on the sound signal easily, making the whistle a great addition to your dog training equipment.
If you're intent on a positive reinforcement training approach, then good quality dog treats and a pouch to carry them in will also be necessary dog training tools. In order to lock in the commands or behaviors you want, you need a reward that will make it worth your dog's while, so standard kibble won't do. There are plenty of training specific treats available on the market that will do the trick. Just be sure not to overdo the treats; the point is to make them special.
There are some pieces of dog training gear that aren't absolutely necessary but could still come in handy. These include a harness, a crate, and a muzzle. Harnesses aren't a necessity but they can be a better option for dogs with delicate tracheas or dogs who can wriggle out of a standard collar too easily. They come in a variety of sizes and fabrics, so it should be easy to find one that fits your dog.
A crate can serve as a perfect way to contain your dog, although they aren't strictly a necessity. Still, many dogs consider their crate their "safe place" and it can give them a sense of security.
Some people mistakenly see muzzles as cruel, but a properly fitted muzzle that still allows the dog to pant, drink water, and accept treats, can actually be a really handy addition to your training regimen. They can be particularly useful for introducing your dog to strange people or other dogs and keeping everyone safe.
Some trainers swear by the use of tools such as prong collars, choke collars and electronic collars, all of which are designed to provide some type of uncomfortable stimuli as a deterrent. Used properly by a professional trainer they can be effective, but most average dog owners aren't skilled enough to handle them and they can quickly become dangerous. For this reason, unless you have particular training yourself, it's best to avoid them.
Don't forget one of the most essential pieces of dog training equipment—a sturdy pair of walking shoes for yourself! Training takes time and patience and you could be on your feet a while, so you'll want to be as comfortable as possible. With the right dog training tools and the right approach, you and your dog can create a bond that lasts a lifetime.
Check out these introductory dog training videos...
Have Dog Training Questions?
Check out these introductory dog training videos...
Get Australian Shepherd Info, Website Updates, Special Offers, and Cartoons...
You'll also receive a free copy of the ebook
My Everyday Dog Training Tools
by professional dog trainer Daniel Abdelnoor, "Doggy Dan"