Not all aids in dog training keep what they promise. Some can even destroy the dog’s trust in its human. Read which are recommended and where caution is required.
A good helper benefits both – humans and dogs
Today’s dog lives within the laws and regulations that have been enacted by humans. So that he quickly understands and adheres to these rules, which do not always correspond to his nature, we have to find a way to translate human desires into “dog language”. You cannot buy all the aids for this and not all of the commercially available helpers are really recommended. But many facilitate communication between humans and dogs and thus also promote the bond between the two. Very important: Not a single aid, no matter how well thought out, can replace what we have to give the dog: reliability and consistency.
- The voice
The two most effective helpers that are always available and do not cost a dime are your voice and your body language – provided that they are used correctly and above all in a coherent manner. If your body signals “stop” and you whisper “here” at the same time, you are bringing the dog into a conflict that he cannot solve. He will choose what is more demonstrative for him. And that varies from dog to dog.
The basic rules for voting are simple:
- The higher you speak, the nicer it sounds in dog ears
- The harder and deeper your voice is, the more threatening it is to the dog
- The quieter you speak, the higher the attention of your animal counterpart
- The louder you thunder, the faster you become unbelievable in your dog’s ears – he will ignore your roar more and more
Quite simply: speak in a soft, low, high voice if we want to motivate or praise the dog. And speak sharper, a little louder and with a deep voice if we want to blame him or forbid him something.
Advantage: Your voice is unique and unmistakable for the recipient
Disadvantage: In the voice, your emotions usually also resonate, which can unsettle the dog
- The body language
The rules for body language are similarly simple:
- The more relaxed your facial expressions and posture, the more relaxed and willing to learn the dog is
- The more march-like and military-like your gait, the more dominant and also repellent you look on your dog
- The clearer and more coherent your body expression is, the safer you will arrive at the addressee
- The more movements you make, the more confusing your message becomes
In short: The more you have your body and your facial expressions under control, the clearer your wishes will come to the dog.
Advantage: Body language and gestures are clearly recognizable for the dog even at a distance
Disadvantage: Unthoughtful gestures and posture can be misunderstood by the dog
- The clicker
Absolutely neutral and helpful is the clicker, the small cracking instrument that can be worn on the wrist and operated with one finger. With each click, the clicker tells the dog that he is on the right path. He praises and rewards without words or gestures, even if the dog is a few steps away. This saves you having to praise and reward after every little correct exercise, interrupting an exercise because you have to bend down to stroke or to reward the student. When used correctly, the clicker encourages the dog to achieve top performance and also enables him to offer services on his own. And: the lack of the longed-for click does not frustrate like the pronounced disappointed “wrong” or “not so”. It only tells the dog that he should do something else. Both have to learn the clicker, the human and the dog. One to two weeks should also be praised with a “click” and a treat should be given at the same time. Then the click alternately replaces the praise or reward. And finally there is only the click and only after some time or many exercises to top it off, the human cheers and the reward.
Advantage: The clicker is neutral and can be used simultaneously with an action
Disadvantage: Where many people click at the same time, this can unsettle the dog
- The pipe
The pipe, played virtuously, can replace many words. There are whistles in the ultrasound range, only audible for the dog, and with different trill tones, each of which you can give a different meaning. The pipe has a greater range than our voice and does not reveal anger or joy. Before it can be used, however, the dog must learn the meaning of the trills. It is not difficult, dogs quickly learn that a “here” that sounds in sync with a welcome (make it small, spread arms invitingly) and a certain whistle has the same meaning. So you can soon do without the voice and squats.
Advantage: The whistle is clear, short and emotionless and therefore often more effective than a call
Disadvantage: A dog conditioned on it listens to every pipe that is set the same
- The delicacies
Dog training is also possible without the small rewards, but a bite after prompt followings reinforces each dog’s willingness to learn. The treats can be stored in the belt bag and are always ready. However, they are not certain because they involve a lot of risks:
- Too many treats in super-brave dogs make you fat and sluggish
- If there is no bite at hand, some dogs tend to be unruly
- Very clever four-legged friends turn the tables and constantly offer tricks to be rewarded
- Dwarfs sometimes have wrong connections because the reward only comes after human stooping, that is, delayed in praise
Advantage: The delicacy in hand always attracts attention and motivation
Disadvantage: Many dogs vigorously demand the treats after each exercise
- The feed bag
It is actually a hybrid of delicacies and retriever toys. The bag can be closed and is filled with delicacies. The dog is allowed to “chase” him after completing tasks, has to bring him back and then gets his reward from the opened bag. For the dog who has grasped the principle, it is very quick to look at the bag to concentrate fully and to greedily wait for tasks that bring him closer to the desired bag content. The risk: Without a bag hope, the desire to learn sometimes wanes. So you should always have him with you.
Advantage: The common “work of the prey search” corresponds to the dog being
Disadvantage: Without the food bag, many dogs forget their motivation and no longer work with them
- Collar, harness
Collar or harness are first of all the connection from the dog to the leash. They have a direct effect on the dog’s body and are mostly used as educational helpers to prevent undesirable behavior. Even the normal soft collar acts on the larynx when the dog on a leash pulls. A dog in the harness is also stopped when it has reached the reach of the leash. There are plenty of special collars and harnesses for “incorrigible” leash tugs or people whose other attempts to educate have been fruitless.
Advantage: Educational harnesses can have a good effect in “hopeless” cases
Disadvantage: If used incorrectly, Halti and Co. are counterproductive and unsettle the dog
- Leash, tow line
The leash enables the owner to act directly on his dog. It initially serves as a means of keeping the dog close to its human. Later, it gives people security in precarious situations such as heavy traffic. A two-meter line that can be shortened several times is ideal as a means of education. The pull-out leashes are unsuitable as an educational aid, but in cities with leash constraints it is at least a way of giving the dog a larger radius. The towline is ideal for four-legged friends who storm away without a leash and forget their entire upbringing on the scent trail of a rabbit or the sight of a deer. When used correctly, it makes the dog believe that it is stopped abruptly, as if by magic, if it does not turn to the owner’s name. Tow lines are available in different lengths. The longer they are, the greater the risk that the dog and leash get tangled in the undergrowth, which is why trailing lines make more sense in open areas. However, do not always keep the dog from relapsing when walking without a leash.
Advantage: The tow line gives notorious “hunters” limited, safe freedom of movement
Disadvantage: Many dogs lead people on a leash instead of the other way round and thus lose respect
- Toys / dummy
All dogs who like to hunt, tug, want to test their strength or are always ready to play can be quickly motivated with a ball or another dummy. Often it is enough to just hold the toy in your hand to make it rush to people from any situation. With their toys in their eyes or in their noses, they are ready to perform – search, retrieve, overcome hurdles, catch frisbees or complete the basic obedience exercises. If the “loot” is only available at the end of a work unit, the risk of addiction is reduced, because ball junkies do not learn: all their efforts are only directed towards the ball. Toys are often used in the teaching of hunting and service dogs and release the tension built up during the required services. When used correctly, they mainly satisfy workaholics and never-tired dogs.
Advantage: In temperamental dogs, the toy replaces the delicacy
Disadvantage: The risk of becoming addicted to the toy increases with the frequency of use
- The target
The slim rod with a rubber or plastic head is nothing more than an elongated arm of the human being. It has proven itself especially in small dogs. The dog is always rewarded when he nudges the target head with his nose. As a result, he can be steered, quickly learns to walk figures or tackle obstacles or drive balls in dog sport. Targets are short-term aids that can soon be replaced by the outstretched human arm.
Advantage: dogs understand the target stick quickly and can be easily steered with it
Disadvantage: Without simultaneous praise, the target loses its appeal