Dog Training Tools

Training Tools: Choosing Collars and Harnesses

Like any sport, hobby, craft, or geometric design — having the right tools makes a huge difference in your results.  Equally important is your technique.   The right tools paired with the right technique make the right solution.

Tools are widely debated.   There are extremists on both sides who think that nothing should be used but a harness and treats while others believe in only ecollar and no treats.   What’s the right answer — it depends.

It depends on many factors.  Age of the dog, temperament of the dog, temperament of the handler, physical attributes of the dog and the handler, and your goals. ONLY YOU can make the decision about what tools you will consider for your dog and your family — even when a trainer recommends something, you should do your homework and get the facts.

At The K9 Coach, we recommend you begin with the least corrective level possible.  Progress to a different tool, if and only if, you are not making significant progress with proper training, essential consistency and daily practice.  It’s up to you as much as it is the dog to respond effectively to training.  Don’t blame your dog for your lack of effort & do not short cut your training methods and time frame. 

Every training tool requires proper fitting and appropriate instruction on usage to prevent injury and to achieve the best results possible.   Many take some time to acclimate the dog to the tool on their body or face and when and how it will be used.   We must be fair and consistent.  And we must provide the dog the ability to be successful and earn reward & praise for a job well done.

You should always train the dog what to do and how to do it before you begin any sort of correction method.    Put in the time necessary to teach the skills before moving to any correction level. There must be consistency and clear, effective communication between owner and handler.  It simply cannot just be a punitive device.

All tools should be considered a teaching aid with the goal not requiring that tool in the future and having a reliable dog whether he has on a training tool or not. Off-leash should be your ultimate goal.   Teach your dog what TO do as well as what NOT to do.  Balance your training equation. 
 

Training Tool

 Pros Cons
Plastic Clip / Nylon Collar ·         Inexpensive

·         Available everywhere

·         They break easily under significant pulling & frequent usage

·         Ill-fitted collars can easily be slipped out of

·         Pulling against collar puts all pressure on the throat vs evenly distributing around neck

Leather Buckle Collar ·         Metal Buckle offers resistance to breakage against usage and pulling pressure ·         Ill-fitted collars can easily be slipped out of

·         Pulling against collar puts all pressure on the throat vs evenly distributing around neck

Martingale ·         Properly sized makes slipping out of collar less much less likely

·         Pulling against collar evenly distributes pressure around neck with wider fabric for correction without discomfort

·         Great patterns!

·         Size properly in both width of fabric and neck size

·         If not sized properly – the 2nd loop of the martingale offering the correction can be too big (too long) – requiring more owner leash movement to engage tension on the collar.
Martingale Lead

(Collar Leash in one)

British Lead

·          convenient  one size fits all
·          gives a gentle correction evenly distributed around dog’s neck
·         correction engages quickly regardless of size of dog
·
Head Harness (ie Halti® ·         Provides no stress on the neck & throat – great for dogs with back or spinal problems.

·         Helps prevent dogs from pulling on the leash when walking

·         Many dog hate the fabric across their snout and will fight to remove it – requires acclimation before usage

·         Corrections may not be very effective for a dog with stubborn, hard, or dominant personality traits, or when training other obedience skills.

·         May not fully restrain a reactive, powerful dog.

·         Despite popular belief that if you control the head you control the dog –  most owners cannot react as quickly as a dog intent on biting

·         Sudden jerk on the leash on a relaxed dog could cause neck injury

Harness

(ie Easy Walk®)

·         Provides no stress on the neck & throat – great for dogs with breathing difficulties or those at risk of collapsed trachea

·         Some harnesses offer a martingale-like method of correction around the body or chest.

·         Can give some dogs more pulling power

·         Correction may not be effective for a dog with stubborn, hard, or dominant personality traits.

Slip Chain (aka Choke Chain)

The K9 Coach

Does NOT recommend a slip chain

·         Offers a more effective correction than Martingale. ·         Most pet owners will never master the technique used for effective placement and correction

·         Must purchase size big enough to go over head, which is then too big for the neck  If not sized properly – chain will be too long – requiring more owner leash movement to engage tension on the collar to .achieve an effective correction

·         Pulls hair on long-haired dogs

Nylon Slip ·         May be as effective as the Chain Slip on the right dog.

·         Has less stigma than other metal training tools.

·         Most pet owners will never master the technique used for effective placement and correction

·         Must purchase size big enough to go over head, which is then too big for the neck achieve an effective correction

·         Not as effective on powerful breeds or highly reactive / aggressive dogs.

No Pain / No Pull

(Wire Cable)

The K9 Coach

Will Never recommend this

· ·         It’s appears to be a  twisted wire cable, directly against your dogs throat.
Prong (aka Pinch)
  • Communication tool for dogs — pressure control create change in behaviors like pulling, jumping, etc.
  • Capable of providing a very effective correction to a hard, stubborn or dominant dog.
  • Can give immediate control to handler with little to no correction
  •  Intended to mimic the mouth of the mother as a correction
  • Helpful to owners who’s dog physically overpowers them.
  • Does not cause pain or piercing
  • Often used on bully breeds who may not need them – as a statement of image by their owner
  • They have a ugly stigma by all positive trainers
  • Many people receive no training & do not use them properly or overcorrect
  • May not be appropriate on a dog with neck trauma, spinal or back injuries, or any puppy under 4 months old.
  • Over correcting may create fear of or intimidation by the handler

·

Electronic
  • Low Level Stimulation does not shock or cause pain.
  • Highly effective for off-leash work and reliable recall
  • Helps to inhibit bad behaviors
  • Reinforces obedience skills
  • Helpful to owners who have physical limitations
  • Can be used effectively for deaf dogs or hearing imparied dogs to signal specific commands.
  • Bark Collars can be effective to eliminate nuisance barking
·         They have a ugly stigma by all positive trainers

·         Many people receive no training & do not use them properly or overcorrect

·         Used by some trainers on every dog they train regardless of temperament & goals.

·         Improper use may create fear or stress in the dog

Citronella Bark Collars ·         Effective to deter barking

·         Many consider the spray aversive

  • Some dogs become smarter than the collar and find a way to work around the spritz
  • Requires new batteries often
  • There is no teaching from the handler associated with the spray – in other words we’re not telling them what to do instead
  • Overuse may deter a dog from barking at all
  • May be problematic for olfactory senses / scent lingers for a very long time.  There is now an unscented version.

Take all collars off for play time, while crated or unsupervised for safety.  

Check the fit often to be sure the collar is not too tight or two loose.    A properly fitted collar should be snug, but not tight.   It should not be loose enough to slip over the dog’s head without unclipping the buckle.  And should not be so tight that it compresses the skin / neck in any way.

Dana Brigman
The K9 Coach Dog Training Charlotte & Pinehurst
www.thek9-coach.com

 

Author: The K9 Coach

The K9 Coach Carolinas Dog Training owned and operated by Dana Brigman, certified dog trainer. We specialize in aggression, fear, anxiety and dog behavior training. We are experts in dog obedience training.