Training Tools and Techniques

Training techniques and styles have changed over time, just as any profession changes. Thirty years ago, almost all trainers used chain slip collars (often called choke chains), and food rewards or lures were not used at all. Dogs were praised enthusiastically for good work, and collar corrections (some quite severe) were used to let the dog know when he made a mistake.

Today, food is commonly used as both a lure and a reward, and the variety of training tools is growing almost daily. The techniques used to train dogs are much more varied today, too. Although this makes it difficult for dog owners to decide which technique to use, it's wonderful for the dogs themselves. The variety today provides a technique for dogs of every personality.

Some of the training tools being used today include:

♦ Leashes: Leashes can range from 6- and 4-foot-long nylon, leather, or rope leashes used in obedience training, to short traffic leads used while training in off-leash work and many dog sports.

♦ Buckle collar: This is the collar your dog should be wearing with his identification tag on it. Many dogs, especially once they understand what is being asked of them, need only this collar.

♦ Chain and nylon slip collars: These collars have gotten a bad reputation because they are often misused. When used correctly, however, a slip collar should not hurt a dog. Instead, the snap of the collar should convey only enough force to get the dog's attention. These collars should never be pulled tight by the owner (which could choke the dog), and the dog should never be allowed to pull on the collar.

♦ Head halters: There are several makes and styles of head halters, and they all work on basically the same premise: Where the dog's head goes, the body will follow. As with any tool, these have been misused, too, and when misused (such as by yanking on the head halter with a leash, thereby jerking the dog's head), the dog can suffer neck and back injuries. However, when used correctly, with a gentle guiding motion and other training skills, this training tool can be very effective.

♦ Prong collars: Although many people abhor these collars, it is primarily because of their look. However, the prongs are not sharp and do not dig into the dog's neck. Many expert trainers prefer this type of collar, especially for strong-willed dogs just beginning their training and who have taken control of their owners. Most of these trainers emphasize that the prong is not necessarily for long-term use, but just to control the dog until the owner can teach him.

♦ Food: Although thirty, and even twenty, years ago, food simply was not used in dog training, trainers today have found that food can be a powerful training tool. It is a strong motivator, lure, and reward. The size of the food used should be appropriate to your dog. Toy dogs can work for tiny pieces, even crumbs, while a giant dog needs something a little bigger. And, of course, the dog must like the food being offered.

♦ Toys: If your dog is not motivated by food, you can use other things instead. Tennis balls are great for many dogs, as are toys with a squeaker inside, or for terriers, furry mice made as cat toys. Just make sure that the toy is safe before you use it as a training motivator.

♦ Clickers: Clickers are small, handheld contraptions that, when pressed, make a clicking sound. Originally used with dolphins that could not be trained using a leash and collar, the click is used to mark good behavior. When the dog realizes that the click equals good, which equals a food treat, he understands and can learn. Although the clicker is an effective training tool, it requires precise timing to work well. In addition, some dogs and people simply do not like the sound, and for them, this tool will not work.

♦ Your voice: As mentioned earlier in this chapter, your voice is the most important training tool you have. Your voice helps your dog pay attention to you, guides him, and rewards him.

There are other training tools, such as citronella collars to stop barking, leashes that make a noise when the dog pulls, and harnesses that slow down dogs who pull when they go for a walk. Electronic collars are also gaining in popularity. Many of these tools, especially electronic collars, should be used only under the guidance of a trainer experienced in their use.

Pit Bulls as Pets

Pit Bulls as Pets

Are You Under The Negative Influence Of Hyped Media Stereotypes When It Comes To Your Knowledge Of Pit Bulls? What is the image that immediately comes into your mind when you think of the words Pit Bull? I can almost guarantee that they would be somewhere close to fierce, ferouscious, vicious, killer, unstoppable, uncontrollable, or locking jawed man-eaters.

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