A very hot topic in the dog training world is that of training aids. In my opinion, a training aid should be just that: an instructional tool. They are to be used to safely and comfortably manage your dog. As training progresses, the training aid might well need to change.
Training Aids that Maestra K9 Services DOES NOT Endorse
(and some reasons why not)
NO SHOCK COLLARS
Prongs and choke chains are dangerous, abusive, and outdated!
Why choke chains and prong collars are very harmful:
More on why NOT to use choke chains
Put a prong collar on yourself and see how it feels!
Retractable leashes are dangerous: for dogs and for humans!
Water bottles for punishment? Not so much...
The dangers of invisible fencing
Training Aids that Maestra K9 Services DOES Endorse
(and some reasons why)
First, you need a good leash: one that is extremely sturdy, that is comfortable in your hands, and that offers you varying lengths as needed WITHOUT retracting and extending on its own!
I have custom leashes made for my business. They are 4 ft in length, which I find is a good close contact length. It is also the required length for therapy dog work. My leashes have a traffic handle placed at 2 ft for close quarter control, and to offer an additional handle that is not too close to the collar for therapy dog work. Please email me for details on how to purchase one.
Martingale collars have a cloth strap in the back that closes around the neck when pulled on to prevent a dog from escaping. They were originally designed for Greyhounds and other dogs whose heads are slightly smaller than their necks and can therefore easily escape. I use martingale collars on everyone! Please make sure it does not have a chain on it. Chains create noise and sometimes pinch when they close.
I carry in my inventory combo collars, which have martingale attachments and also buckles for easy on and off transitions.
Also, you can't go wrong with collars from 2 Hounds!
My favorite training aids aside from martingale collars are harnesses. There are many, many different styles and fits to choose from! Contrary to popular belief, a harness does not have to promote pulling. I have times when I allow my dogs to pull me gently, and times when I do not. Either way, a harness is a great way to gently and effectively guide your dog.
In my inventory, I carry a standard Y harness. Some other harnesses that I really like are:
Ruffwear makes some excellent harnesses, I like them all!
http://www.ruffwear.com/ In particular, check out the Front Range, which is a hybrid harness that can be used as front and/or read attachment.
In my opinion, the best hybrid harness is a Balance Harness.
Nonstop makes a half harness that I really like.
Sometimes, dogs need a tool to help them learn to walk on a leash. These are usually young dogs who have had little training. They have no "brakes or steering," as I like to say. In this case, a head collar might be a great tool to use to teach these skills. I do not endorse using a head collar all the time. In fact, I prefer to not use one, as I think they can potentially create various chiropractic issues. But they are perfect to use on an untrained dog until he or she understands loose-leash walking enough to transition into a harness of some sort.
For head collars, you can have them fitted with our without a camlock. A camlock is a black piece of plastic that fits securely under the chin. Some dogs need this, some do not.
If you think your dog needs a head collar, email me and I will do a fitting for you. I recommend a Halti head collar for those who do not need a camlock, and a Holt head collar for those that do need a camlock.
We all need bait bags to carry our treats! These are my favorites:
I do some clicker training, and I highly recommend it to those interested. Finding a good clicker can be tricky. They are cheap, but they tend to break easily. I have some from Petsafe in my inventory that I sell and recommend because they are more durable than a lot of the ones i have tried in the past.
For more information on clicker training, there is no better resource than Karen Pryor!
Proper Fitting of Gear
As someone who worked at a saddle fitting company for some time, I understand that any gear can be uncomfortable and unsafe if it is not properly fitted. I have spent an extensive amount of time studying the mechanics and fit of various collars, harnesses, and head collars. I have a supply of several lines of dog gear that I most highly recommend, and I can meet with you and your dog, help you choose gear that would suit you both best, and get your dog comfortably and safely fitted.
Email to schedule a gear evaluation and fitting session!
"The dominance issue is not only a matter of faulty philosophy, but a lack of basic understanding of canine communication. Humans should be seen as leaders because dogs respect us, not because they fear us.
Training and communication should result in a dog's eyes lighting with joy and enthusiasm, not smothering that light under the threat of violence.
Anyone can scare and intimidate dogs. It takes a better trainer, a better human being, to be able to work with dogs and get the same, or dare I say, even better results. "
Nicole Wilde, CPDT