I have a confession. There is a drawer in my home that contains too many pens; I can’t resist a good “Back to School” supply sale.
As a former homeschooling mom, I have a habit of stocking up on all the necessary basic supplies. And sometimes, I forget to go shopping in the supply closet first… hence the overflow of markers and pens.
Nonetheless, this time of year makes me appreciate the basics needed by our dog training class clients, too. I’m happy to review a few must-have dog supplies. Here’s what you’ll need whether you are training a newly adopted dog, a young puppy or your older best buddy:
A 4-6 foot leash.
Nothing is simpler than putting a leash on your dog to fix dozens of behavior issues. It solves door dashing, counter surfing, squirrel chasing and rushing of guests. Is it hard to hold? How about adding a carabiner clip (easy to find at any dollar market_ to connect your belt to the leash handle. Presto. Hands-free. Check out our gorgeous supply of quality Lupine leashes in our shelter pet supply store. They come with a lifetime guarantee and Lupine will replace them, even if chewed!
Flat buckle collars.
While you are picking your pattern, splurge for a trusty Lupine collar too. The flat webbing is safe for wearing all the time. It will also stay attached to your leash even if your dog forgets his manners and bolts. I recommend attaching an identification tag for easy recovery should your dog ever escape your care. A flat buckle collar is what we recommend in our training classes; we don’t believe that painful hardware is necessary for training. There are better ways. Curious? We have a humans-only Dog Smart class for only $5 (and a $5 coupon to our pet supply store) where we discuss these concepts in detail.
The key to motivating your dog to work for you, even through distractions, is helping him understand that what’s in it for him is really worthwhile. You have a choice as his trainer, to use threat/fear and the removal of such OR to use food/fun or the removal of such to motivate your dog. After trying all the methods, I recommend that food and fun are a whole lot better for your relationship. A handy treat pouch keeps your pockets from getting squishy during early training when high-value food is a necessity to compete with environmental distractions.
Front clip harnesses.
Nearly all of our shelter dogs wear a front-clip harness during walks. We have found them to be a humane tool to decrease pulling easily. Even our inexperienced dog walkers can easily put the harness on the dog, and then have a nicer walk than is possible with just a flat collar. Additionally, when both the collar and harness are clipped into the leash, there is a reduced risk of the dog slipping out of the equipment. The Easy-Walk harness is affordable, comes in many colors and most dogs aren’t bothered by them in the least.
For those extreme pullers, barkers, frantic guest greeters and generally exuberant dogs, there is no better tool than a properly fitted head halter. We use and recommend both the Gentle Leader and the Halti, which are slightly different from one another, but work on the same principle: where the head goes, the body follows. The head halter let’s even very large dogs are controlled with one hand, much leading a horse on a halter. There is a learning curve for both dog and handler. In addition, the style must suit the shape of your dog’s face. If your dog has never worn a head halter, consider registering for a simple 30-min fitting and private lesson on its use with our Behavior & Training Coordinator, Chelsea Rock.
So many behavior problems can be prevented if a dog is comfortable hanging out in a crate for short periods of time. In fact, I consider it a basic necessity especially if your dog is under one year of age. Proper house manners can all be taught with a crate, including where to potty, what to chew items, where to relax, how to greet people… not to mention impulse control and the prevention of separation anxiety. I can’t believe we ever had dogs in the house without one. It’s a basic necessity and one I highly recommend along with our puppy class.
All of these dog supplies and more are available in our shelter pet supply store, Davenport’s Den. You can check out a variety of treats, housewares and clothing as well.
Next week, I’ll cover a few more items we carry that are essential for your pet’s mental health. Until then, feel free to contact us for behavior and training support for your pet by email: Behavior@whs4pets.org. Stop by and see us at the shelter and, if you’re looking for a pen, I’ve got you covered.