Appropriate Dog-Training Equipment
If you care about the health and wellbeing of your dog, then not all equipment out there is suitable for your dog.
I only allow the use of equipment that I consider "safe" for dogs in my classes. Indeed, if anyone wants to work with me, they will need to commit to getting rid of any abusive equipment and replacing it with humane options.
Below is the quick list of what I allow and disallow in my classes. If you are not a client of mine, you can use it as a guide for your own dog.
What I Use in My Classes
- Collars: A standard flat collar or (preferably) a Martingale collar (here's one in paisley). (Note: When this is fitted correctly, you are able to get two fingers under the collar when it is pulled tight. This prevents the collar from choking the dog, which you definitely do not want.)
- Harnesses: A back-clip harness will work for many dogs. For dogs who like to pull, I recommend a front-clip harness. The best option would be the Freedom Harness, which gives two-point contact.
- Leashes: A standard 6’ leash will work well. Longer lengths are acceptable. Avoid something too short to allow the dog room to move. Some Freedom harnesses come with a leash with two connectors, which is fine.
What I Do Not Allow
I do not allow gear that I consider to be “tools of violence” in my classes. Here’s why.
First of all, they are counter-productive. A goal of my approach is to motivate a dog to want to make the correct choices (from the inside-out). Aversive punishments force a dog to make the correct choices (from the outside-in).
Second, they can easily become abusive. If a dog is not responding immediately to the punishment with lasting effects, then the punishment isn’t working. If the “correction” continues then it has turned into abuse.
Third, a compassion-based approach is healthier for the emotional well being of a dog than is a fear-based approach. I work to facilitate stronger relationships between human and canine companions.
Fourth, the posture from which tools of punishment works is that of “power over”. Those who use the tools want power “over” their dogs’ behavior. My approach takes the posture of “power with” the dog, through which human and canine companions learn to communicate and respond to each other.
As a modern, science-based, force-free, compassion-based trainer, it simply makes sense that I would avoid the use of forceful punishers. Thanks to research, we know that they are simply not good for the well being of the dog, and they can create issues (such as aggression) when they are employed. It is for this reason that the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists strongly discourages using any trainers that employ such methods.
Tools of punishment include: choke chains, prong collars, shock collars.
I also do not allow equipment that is counter-productive to training. This includes retractable leashes, since they actually teach a dog to pull.