My Favorite Foundational Tools
Your Shopping List:
1. Properly Fit Flat Collar With Identification
2. A Boundary / Pet Cot & Pad
3. The Appropriate Harness & Leash Combination
4. A Treat Pouch
5. A Licki Mat / Snuffle Mat
Your Dog's Collar
Your dog should always have a collar on.
That said, I don't like the regular fancy collars especially for bigger dogs because they generally don't grip well when you need to grab your dog's collar and they aren't very sturdy.
These are my favorite types of collars.
1) Buckle Closure: so they aren't constantly changing size while on your dog.
2) Made of a heavy duty soft rubberized plastic so they don't collect gross smells, and they're sturdy in your hand.
3) Center Escape Ring: so if your dog does get caught on something, it helps the collar come off your dog's head when pulled hard enough.
4) Name plate ID tag in the collar: no jingling and no losing tags because they snag on something which could also hurt your pup or get them stuck!
A Boundary (Pet Cot) & A Pad... DO NOT SKIP THIS!
Get on board with some BOUNDARY LOVE! Boundaries are a LITERAL LIFE SAVER!
They're the cornerstone to our training methods that actually get you real life results!
When starting out with training it is important to have a VERY CLEAR boundary for your pup.
This means: you want very DISCERNIBLE EDGES and you want it ELEVATED off the ground!
Lifted boundaries with clear edges teach your dog so so so many things! As your dog progresses with this boundary skill, then you can (or really they will on their own) utilize boundaries on the ground like mats, and we can even shrink them down the the size of a post-it! Seriously!
Please, Please, Please do not skip this!!!! Don't tell me your dog already has enough beds, don't tell me your dog will never use it, don't tell me you don't care where your dog lays at home. I used to think pet cots were ridiculous until I learned that they are LITERALLY THE MOST IMPORTANT TOOL IN YOUR TOOLBOX besides paychecks and your enthusiasm. If you want a well behaved dog, you want an elevated boundary!
Pro Tip: I get the ones that travel easily even for my house, and just cover them with a pretty pad or blanket to that they look nice inside. This leaves me with 2 travel-able ones which makes them that much more functional!
As I work on the skill of boundary work, I like to get my dogs used to a "lower boundary" that isn't elevated off the floor!
I do this simply by laying a flat boundary ON TOP of my elevated one!
Now the biggest tip here is, you want something that stays put with your dog hopping on and off! So think rubber backing.
Yoga mats, bath mats, work great
I love these anti slip mattresses because they come in crate sizes and are machine washable!
Leash And Harness Set Up
Ok this is where our experience really comes into play here and you just have to trust us.
When taking your dog out and about and they aren't yet trained, you want to make sure you have the equipment that really sets everyone up for success...
For us, this is a harness with 2 connection points: one on the back AND one at the chest.
And an accompanying leash (we usually just put a carabiner on the handle of a normal leash and turn it into a two clip leash) There are longer training 2 clip leashes, but we find them to be too long to be really helpful in the initial stages of training.
For some dogs, we need to take it a step further. Some dogs are really strong, or reactive, or escape artists. In this instance we use a harness lead as our dog's leash AND the 2 point harness... check out the options below and choose what best fits your dog. When in doubt, pick option 1.
Ok stay with me on this one because it can be a tad confusing if I'm not talking you through it...
What you need...
There are some options here:
Which option you choose here depends on you and your dog:
Choose OPTION 1 If your dog:
- Shows Any Reactive Behavior around People / Other Dogs
- Is overly timid in public
- Is a Houdini escape artist on a harness
- If gets loose isn't likely to come back to you
- Pulls heavily
- Is much bigger / stronger than you
- Needs a head collar (choose Option 1b)
Choose OPTION 2 If your dog:
Is small, non reactive, not a crazy puller, and not a flight risk, and can't overpower you.
Is terrified of something going over their head (choose Option 2b)
Option 1: The Harness Lead, a T Shaped 2 Clip Harness, and a Carabiner
Option 1b: The Harness Lead, a Halti Head Collar, and a Carabiner
Option 2: a T Shaped 2 Clip Harness With No Padding, a 6 foot leash, and a Carabiner
Option 2b: a Buckle Collar Balance Harness, a 6 foot leash, and a Carabiner
The Harness Lead
This is my favorite thing for reactive / strong dogs, because when put on properly, it's escape proof! We like to keep everyone safe!
It's also the most multi-functional product we've seen yet, and we love it for just about everything!
Click the link below to learn about just some of the ways we use this great tool!
Keep in mind, we utilize all tools for safety and back up only, we will be creating a relationship between you and your dog so that you aren't dependent on tools for your dog to listen.
Our Recommended Sizing:
Small/ Medium: under 25 pounds
Medium/Large: 25 pounds and over
You Can See an in-depth explanation of each product below:
Using A Harness - They're Not All The Same!!!!!
You want a T Shaped Chest Harness With 2 Contact Points
Many "no pull" harnesses stop the pulling by putting restrictions on your dog's ability to MOVE! This, like using a collar on a walk creates repetitive movement changes in your dogs body that can lead to injury due to long time use!
You don't want a harness that restricts your dog's normal gait.
Look for a harness that goes around the neck, and between your dog's front legs like a T down their chest bone, then under their arms!
You Don't Want a Harness with Lots of Padding, because it makes the harness easier for your dog to get out of! So only use a harness with padded sections if you're using the harness lead with it!
Blue-9 Balance Harness With a Buckle Collar Like Neck
On the occasions where we have dogs who are afraid of something going over their head, the harness lead or other kind of harness is very difficult to get on, and when you do get it on it's a fight that isn't creating a positive association. So for some dogs we use the buckle neck harness
Why this one? It's adjustable at ALL it's parts! This is VITAL for a proper fit!
This is the harness you want if your dog can't stand / is terrified of something going over their head!
The Company of Animals - HALTI Walking Dog Harness - Adjustable and Comfortable Secure Fit - Maximum Control for Energetic Dogs
This harness is the one we use for inside the house dogs who need proximity management It has a great soft handle
It's down side compared to the blue-9 is that the strap along the back is not adjustable, and it tends to change size with repetitive use. But it's a great and cheaper addition if you're using it on top of the harness lead!
A Head Collar - the Halti
Head collars aren't something I always recommend. Used improperly or on a dog that isn't conditioned with them they can cause damage to your dog's neck. So when we do use them I always recommend desensitizing your dog to them first (much like a muzzle).
I prefer the Halti because there isn't a lower clip further restricting your dog's ability to open their mouth with it not in use and only does so when you're in the process of utilizing the head collar.
Secondly, I Always use a head collar IN CONJUNCTION with the harness lead or at least a double clip leash and collar.
A head collar should never be the only point of contact on your dog.
Training Tools - Paycheck Pouches
If you've worked with me at all, you'll know I don't like the word Treat or Reward.
I prefer Paycheck, because we're paying your dog for their work.
Not all paychecks are food either.
That said, I generally work with my dogs with multiple types of paychecks on hand.
Which means 2-3 different values of food and/or toys.
A low level (like your dog's everyday food),
a medium level (like something tasty but not too exciting),
and a jackpot level (oh my gosh give me more)
Necessary Components of My Paycheck Pouches
1) Multiple Pockets (for all the different levels)
2) Deep Pockets (don't want to go spilling those paychecks)
2) No zippers or top flaps where my hand goes in (they just slow you down)
This 3 Pocket Training Apron (the heavy duty one) is my new favorite!
I love the waitress apron idea, but these pockets carry a little bit of weights so that the openings aren't constantly closing and you don't have to fight to get your hand in.
It also allows you to have multiple types of paychecks on hand and keep them easily divided and equally accessible!
Think of it as a heavy duty Home Depot apron!
These are some other good options too, but you may want more than one, as they are limited in the amount they can hold and the divided pockets for different value paychecks are relatively small and more difficult to access.
Just in case you're curious, these are 2 of my favorite "Middle Value" Paychecks!
I always stock my paycheck pouches with my dog's food, and one of these mid-value options
There's more on nutrition and food below too!
Ditching the Bowl!
Ditching the Bowl will be life changing for you and your dog's relationship! Here are some of the things we use to ditch the bowl, ensuring that our dog keeps using their mind even when we aren't there to work with them!
Treat n Train
As silly as a food dispenser might seem to some (sure used to to me), these things can be VITAL in working with insecure dogs and confidence building!
You can also get the latest and greatest and go with the Pet Tutor!
Super Pricey, but worth it in some scenarios!
Yes Really this is that important that it is the top of the list!
You don't want to be caught not being able to afford to care for the pet you love in an emergency!
I've had great luck with Pet's Best Pet Insurance
They offer different illness coverage plans and accident only coverage for $9 a month!
Management Tools - Crates & Baby Gates
The MidWest Life Stages and iCrate Wire Crates are different!
The Life Stages are thicker and in my experience taller (even for the same length crates).
I don't recommend the iCrate version even though they're cheaper... there's a reason.