Scientific studies show that dogs are among the few species in the animal kingdom whose level of intelligence is comparable to that of man. The extent to which their brains can function similarly as the human brain does is arguable, but due to their capacity for learning and their apparent ability to establish emotional connection with their owners – a trait that is not easily observable in other animal species – dogs earn the title as “man’s best friend”.
However, obedient, and easy-going dog attitude of dogs does not come naturally. No matter how intelligent dogs are deemed, they do not automatically know that they should stay, sit, or roll over upon command, or that they should not pee inside the house, or that they should not bark at anything that moves. It takes a lot of effort, extreme patience, the proper dog training tools, and dog training supplies to successfully train dogs into performing actions desirable of a good pet.
DOG TRAINING TECHNIQUES
The two most common technique to train dogs are the rewards and punishment system, and the discipline-based system. Both make use of reinforcement and punishment as a way to encourage or discourage certain actions from the animal being trained.
Both reinforcement and punishment have two forms, the positive and negative kinds. The positive kind is where an element is posited or added to stimulate good behavior and reject a bad one, whereas the negative kind is where an element is taken away as an effect of a behavior exhibited by the dog.
Positive reinforcement is a training technique where one gives the dog a reward for good behavior. The reward, which usually comes in the form of a dog treat (e.g. food or toy), must be administered right after the good act has been done. This way, the dog will develop a direct connection between the act committed and the positive result his act has effected.
Negative reinforcement is a training technique where one takes away an already present, usually unpleasant element to show that a behavior is being rewarded. For example, for a trainer who uses shock collar to prevent a dog from incessant barking will remove the collar every time the dog follows the verbal command “stop”.
Positive punishment is the training method where an often unpleasurable element is posited or induced to reprimand the dog’s undesirable action. Putting on a leash on a dog that is used to walk around freely is a form of a positive punishment. Negative punishment, on the other hand, is where something pleasurable is taken away to show dissatisfaction for an unwanted act committed by the subject being trained. Taking away a treat or a toy when the dog commits a bad behavior is an example of a positive punishment.
Although all these four training techniques have their own advantages and disadvantages, but positive reinforcement is arguably the most effective and least harmful way of inducing and developing a desired behavior in a dog as per the experience of many dog trainers and experts.
Accordingly, this article shall discuss how to train a dog through positive reinforcement and enumerate the most essential training tools and supplies necessary to accomplish this task. The next section of this article will contain the description of the dog training tools and training supplies. The last section will be a set of instructions on how to use the enumerated dog training tools and supplies for dog training through positive reinforcement.
DOG TRAINING TOOLS AND SUPPLIES
The top ten must have dog training tools and training supplies are as follows:
References may come in the form of movie tutorials, books, magazine subscriptions, or even advice from experienced dog trainers. The best thing to do at the onset is to ask around about the best possible references that one could refer to in going about the task of dog training. There are also online references one could avail of. After making a list, one should select the best resources that will most likely address the needs of the trainer.
2.Bags, Boxes, and Containers
The right training bag should be first on the checklist of anyone who wishes to train dogs. Accordingly, there are many kinds of dog training bags to choose from. They are made of different kinds of materials that will suit one’s needs. They vary in size, shape, and color, and all these specific characteristics are important for they will establish a connection in the mind of the canine and the dog training tools and dog training supplies contained in them.
The clicker is the first tool that should go in one’s dog training bag. It is a device, usually made of plastic or metal, which comes with a button that makes a clicking sound when pressed.
4.Food and Treats
One the training supplies essential for one who wishes train canines are dog food and other edible treats. Relative to this, one must take extra precaution in choosing the treats provided to the dog. One must have a list of prohibited food, allergens, etc., as well as a list of preferences so the association of the treat to the act will be clear and uncompromised. Food and treats are very important as they are to which the positive behavior directly corresponds. Even with other animals, food and treats are the tools made to encourage good behavior. Cases in point, dolphins and seals are fed fish, and birds are given bread crumbs during trainings.
Just like children, the very idea of earning the right to play naturally excites dog. A trainer must take advantage of this fact and use toys such as chew toys and stuffed toys to encourage positive behavior and action.
This item is a must-have especially for new trainers. It must be noted that a bitter spray normally has no harmful effect to the trainer or the dog except if some of the substances produce an allergic reaction. One just has to make sure that for allergies before using this as part of the training. Bitter sprays are liquids that elicit an appalling scent for dogs.
7.Leash and Harnesses
There are many types to choose from that vary in material composition and purpose. There a leather ones, fabric, and steel which serves many different purposes. Leashes also come in the form of harnesses which are more adjustable and convenient for the trainer especially if the dog is very active and is more difficult to hold on to compared to other dogs.
A muzzle is a mouth cover used to guard the canine’s mouth. This device is extremely useful in pacifying aggressive tendencies of the canine, and for generally controlling the behavior of the dog.
A dog collar is a piece of cloth, leather, metal or any type of material wrapped around a dog’s neck. It is usually used to simply indicate names and identification. But there are also other kinds such as shock collar and electric collars that are used for more than just identification. With regulated intensity, they may be used to encourage or discourage behavior. But since the use of collars is a form of positive punishment, and not the more effective positive reinforcement. It will be useful to keep this in hand just in case.
10.First Aid Kit
A first-aid kid must have the necessary supplies to cater to an emergency. During training, there may occur accidents that would cause pain or injury to either the trainer or the dog being trained. Gauzes, bandages, medicine, and other pet medical supplies should be made readily available in case or emergencies.
HOW TO TRAIN A DOG
Now that that the essential training tools and dog trainings supplies have been enumerated, this article shall move forward to the actual dog training.
As mentioned in the first section of the article, positive reinforcement through habituation is the most reliable training technique that most trainers use.
Some of the useful dog tricks that may be accomplished using the dog training supplies and dog training tools to be discussed here includes the following: how to train a puppy to come, how to train a dog to lay down, how to train your dog to sit and stay, and how to train a dog to shake a hand.
Some control-training such as how to train a dog to attack strangers, how to train a dog to attack intruders, or how to teach a dog to bite in proper and warranted circumstances shall also be discussed alongside the identification of training tools and training supplies necessary for development and application of knowledge and skills on how to train dogs.
First thing to do is to make the dog recognize visual and verbal cues and their association to an action. The trainer must then use positive reinforcement in the form of dog treats or toys to show the dog that positive results of his actions. At this point, this is how dog treats and toys may be used as training tool:
Food and Treats
In folk or commonsense psychology, habituation is one of the most effective methods of encouraging behavior among human beings, as well as animals. Such may be used in the process of training dogs. As aforementioned, the process of positive reinforcement works great with dogs, or almost any other animal for that matter. Performing dolphins are given fish every after an act as a sign of gratitude and approval for their cooperation. The same thing with dogs. A dog must be provided with dog food or a piece of meat after fetching a ball thrown away by the trainer.
It will do one best to start with simple tricks such as a handshake. If after every time the dog touches the trainer’s hand and sees that it pleases the trainer so much so that he gives food to him, the dog will create the association in its mind and develop a behavior inclined to acting in such way.
Every after a commendable action, the trainer could provide access to a toy so the dog can associate the fulfillment of an action to the positive reward that is the chance to play with the toy.
Toys may also be used to teach actual tricks such as fetching. By using this dog training tools and training supplies together, a more effective learning is ensured. For example, the trainer may begin to associate action words such as “fetch” to a tennis ball. Through repetitive action and provision of a positive reinforcement such as a dog treat every time the dog successfully fetches the toy, a basic training trick is developed.
However, using toys and food as tools for positive reinforcement does not always go well especially if the dog is stubborn. This is where more advanced tools such as the clicker comes in handy.
As mentioned in the previous section, a clicker is a device that makes a clicking sound. The sound functions as a signal for an incoming treat. It is important that the dog only finds the sound as the indicator for the actual reward that is the dog treat or toy. The trick is to wait a few seconds after the clicking sound, and show the dog that the actual reward comes after he hears the sound. This is important so that the clicking sound will not be associated as a single kind of reward. Because apart form dog treats and toys, verbal and actual encouragement such as saying “good boy”, and an tousle on the head would be identified as a reward.
However, the clicker must not be used for other purposes except for signaling the provision of a reward. It most definitely should not be used for negative things such as punishment so as not have the dog associating it to anything else. Consistency in the administering of reward and the use of the signal is key to having a well-trained dog.
The timing and techniques in administering these positive reinforcement elements may tricky, and anyone who wishes to learn could make use of different kinds of guides and references.
It is important to gather as much knowledge as one possibly can about dog training. One should read books, articles, watch videos, and ask people who have prior experience to training dogs, and have extensive knowledge about what their pet might need to be trained effectively.
While some trainers successfully conduct their training by simply applying what he or she has witnessed in tutorial videos, some find it effective to let the dog watch several tricks from the videos themselves. Researches concerning the measurement of intelligence quotient of canines reveal that, given an environment conducive for learning and normal experiences, dogs appear to have the intelligence and mental capacities of a two-year old kid. At the said age, babies begin to be quite impressionable and tend to copy what he sees is done by adults. By that logic, dogs too can learn through watching and mimicking. Watching a person train dogs and a dog act in accordance with the trainer’s actions commands in a situation, is something dog can identify itself with. With its intelligence, the dog may be able to develop an understanding of how to do tricks even before it is even performed.
Apart from this, extensive knowledge of and access to dog training references will inform one of the importance of identifying character of a pet. In dog training, there are many things to account for such as the breed of the dog. Some dogs are easier to teach than others. Other restrictions and differences can be traced. It is through reading, testimonies, or other sort of references that one is able to understand the situation for the dog to be trained.
From other people’s testimonies, one could also derive many personal tips that would aid the endeavors of the new trainer. One should also be on the loop about latest trends or development in training dogs, and the available dog training supplies and training tools in the market. Magazine subscriptions would come in handy in this case.
The following dog training tools and supplies namely: bitter spray, leash and harness, collars, and muzzles are more for moderative than reinforcing purposes. It is necessary for controlling unruly behavior from a dog.
If the training involves that of teaching tricks that is quite strenuous, a trainer may apply the substance into his hands to make them less vulnerable to dog bites.
As for training a dog to prevent it from biting and chewing on different objects such as its own leash or at household objects and furniture, the bitter spray any or all these objects. The substance usually creates a foul smell and taste that is sure to prevent a dog from placing his mouth anywhere near something that has been sprayed on with such substance. These are available in stores, but one may also create a home-made bitter spray by mixing vinegar with water.
Leash and Harness
A leash or harness in dog training works more as a positive punishment (if the dog has been used to moving without one), or a negative reinforcement (if the dog is used to wearing one).
The leash must be tied to the dog’s neck comfortably – neither too loose nor too tight – just enough for the trainer to gain control of it whenever necessary. If the dog chases around someone, pulling light on the leash and using hand signals and voice to indicate disproval would tell the dog that the act is cruel. The act of using a leash may also be a form of positive punishment if the trainer is dealing with a dog that hasn’t been leashed before.
A dog training tool that works similarly as a leash is a harness. Except, a harness is deemed to work better than a leash for it lessens the possibility of pain such as neck and back injuries, especially for extremely active dogs.
The most important thing to consider in choosing and using a leash or harness is the comfortability it offers to the pet. Thus the tightness of the leash or harshness but be checked from time to time to make sure that strenuous activities will not cause the dog pain or injury.
A trainer must first consider two important things when choosing a muzzle: the size, the material it is made of. It is important to make sure that the muzzle is just the proper size for the canine so that it will serve the main purpose of protecting the trainer and other people from bites and other manifestations of aggression.
The muzzle must be used with a dog who acts aggressively under the slightest provocation. This may be made to go on until the dog learns to relax. Muzzles are usually used when the dog is about to go through an unusual or tense situation which will possibly trigger. Muzzles should not be used for extremely long periods of time, especially since most muzzles make it difficult for the dog to breathe. A muzzle is commonly used to teach discipline such as refraining from excessive barking and biting.
Some make use of shock collars to provide positive punishment to unruly canine behavior. A trainer should ensure that a shock collar is set in just the right amount of intensity.
Check the size, adjustability of the collar and consider the effects on the body of the pet. Collars are commonly used to discipline and prevent a dog from unwarranted barking, loitering and wandering, and other unruly behavior. Some types of dog collars commonly used by individuals are the choke chain dog collars, shock, or electric collar.
The two other essentials are the dog training bags and the first aid kit. The former has a positive reinforcement element to it as will be discussed, whereas the latter is a necessary supply for any dog trainer to have.
Dog training bags must be kept clean and sterilized at all times. This is to ensure that the dogs or the trainer do not run the risk of further complications, infection, and injury than the usual scratches acquired during training activities.
After knowing the necessities, bags, boxes and containers of all sorts may be purchased according to the preferences of the trainer and the pet. Like human being, dogs have the tendency to favor certain objects over others. The trainer should then choose the shape, color, or design of bags in consideration of the expected reaction of the pet. For aside from the obvious purpose of cleanliness, efficiency, and organization that training bags offer, using the same bags and boxes on a regular basis will help the dog realize the expectations the trainer is setting from him. Case in point, if he sees the pouch where his dog treats are usually kept, the dog will learn the process of associating the treat with the bag, the bag with the command from his matter, and the fulfillment of the command to the receipt of the treat from the bag.
A recent development in the study of dog’s vision for color has confirmed that dogs are indeed able to identify color. However, they are only able to use ranges of yellow and cyan colors. Given this idea, the identifiability of the bags – color, shape, or size may be instrumental to an easier development of a good response from the dog.
Any self-respecting dog trainer should have these dog training supplies, and should know how to apply oneself first-aid cure to common injuries such as cuts and bruises. It should be common knowledge that any would has to be cleansed first, and then applied with disinfecting substance. The wound must be treated with extra care and must be checked regularly to monitor proper healing. However, he or she must still consult a physician especially if it involves bites and scratches from the dog being trained.
As for the dog, a trainer must consult a veterinarian of the must-haves for the dog being trained. Surely, there will be differences in the kinds and types of medicine prescribed but the manner of treating usual wounds are scratches are essentially the same. A trainer must be extra careful in attending to wounds for this act is also crucial to developing the bond between him and the dog being trained. The dog shall surely be more comfortable in the future knowing that the trainer has taken care of him during a painful experience and nursed him back to health.
DOG TRAINING VIDEO CLIPS
These video clips will show you how to train a dog to sit, stay, and lie down, among other basic tricks. It shall be evident in this video how positive reinforcement is extensively used and how it exudes positive response from the dogs being trained.