Updated: Jan 13
January is "National Train Your Dog Month", so we'll be focusing on training topics all month long that will help enrich the relationship between you and your dog. We're back and starting off 2021 sharing a few at home tips as well as useful things to have when you're working on at-home leash training with your dog.
Our Pack Leaders not only concentrate on providing your pup with leash guidance and correction while out on our pack walks, most of them love doing their own research and at-home training with their own dogs in their spare time. We asked our Team Manager, Hayley, if we could take a look at some of her favorite items she uses at-home when she practices leash etiquette and training with her dog, Mav.
While we always recommend starting with formal dog training sessions (and yes, we provide those here at OC Pup Scouts!) we wanted to break down and showcase a few items that might be helpful if you like to spend your nights or weekends working on informal leash training with your pup. So let's get started...
7 MUST HAVES WHEN WORKING ON AT-HOME LEASH TRAINING WITH YOUR DOG
1. Standard 6 Ft. Leash
The most basic of leashes, a standard 6 ft. leash is what you would commonly see in any pet store or where they sell dog supplies. They come in a variety of colors, textures and prints, so you can find one that's customized to your dogs needs.
*Training Tip: Utilizing a 6 ft. leash requires it to be hooked onto a collar or harness that is then attached to your dog. When utilizing a 6ft leash, always make sure that you have your dog's identification tags clearly visible while outside. In the event that something happens to your leash while out and it breaks, having your dog's ID tags clearly visible will indicate to others that your dog is not a stray.
2. Training Pouch
A treat or training pouch is a great way to free up your hands while working with a pup on leash. Most come with clip-on waist belts and zipped pockets for any small items like a training clicker as well as closures so no treats fall out while working.
*Training Tip: Use your pup's kibble as training treats! Not only does it keep your dog lean, alert and ready to work, but you won't have to worry about an influx in calories or figuring out what's in those store bought treats you got. Many training treats can be high in fat or have ingredients you may not want to incorporate in your dog's diet. So utilizing their daily kibble ensures ingredients you're comfortable with as well as ensuring your dog doesn't over eat on the days you're practicing your at-home training.
3. Training Collar
Also referred to as a "prong" or "pinch" collar, this is a resource commonly used during training time. But don't worry... it's only sometimes called a pinch collar because you have to pinch the prongs to take this collar on and off - so rest assured it doesn't get its name from pinching your pup! Recommended placement is high and tight around the neck of your dog, directly behind their ears. The live ring then is placed on the front side of your pup, just under their chin. This would be where you can attach a leash or training lead of your choice, depending on what type of leash training you're working on. The prongs on the collar offer addition reinforcement when trying to teach a new pup how to be on leash or to also teach corrective behavior.
*Training Tip: We suggest only having your dog wear this during training as it's not meant for every day use, like when they're hanging around the house or playing at a dog park. For casual/every day life, a regular nylon collar with their dog tags displayed is perfect! Remember the name and use this training collar for training purposes only. Depending on temperament, this type of collar may not be suitable for every dog, so feel free to contact us if you want to know if this collar would work well for your pup!
4. Long Line Leash
These leashes come in a variety of lengths (Hayley has one that is 50 feet) and are great to utilize when trying to teach recall (when you want to call your pup back to you). Long line leashes give your pup the ability to roam and sniff at a farther distance away from you, helping to build trust between both of you and their ability to come back to you when called to do so.
*Training Tip: Long line leashes also give you the ability to guide your dog back to you as it is still connected to their collar. So if you are out hiking and you see another dog or danger that you want to keep your pup away from, you still have the option for that hands-on control.
5. Reward Toy
Pick a special toy that your dog doesn't regularly get access to and use this during your training as a positive reinforcement tool. Treat it as an extra special reward for your pup aside from the kibble that you utilize when they perform positive behavior.
*Training Tip: While training is hard work for any dog, don't be afraid to utilize rewards that incorporate play. It's a unique reward that keeps things fun, keeps your dog engaged and just keeps things interesting for you and your pup. After all, pet parents love play just as much as their pups do!
6. Slip Lead
Our personal favorite, a slip lead is the type of leash that we utilize for all of our pack walks! There's a great benefit in utilizing slip leashes at home as well. If you need to take your pup out in the middle of the night to go potty, or just need to have them on leash for a short moment, it provides an all-in-one solution for a collar and harness. It comes with a plunger to secure the fit of the collar and you can configure a slip lead a few ways depending on what you're practicing.
*Training Tip: If you're the type who loves being prepared at a moments notice, carry a spare one of these around when you're hiking or out on trails. It's super light weight, takes up very little space and comes in handy if you happen to find a stray while out around town or a lost pup on a trail.
7. Front-Clip Harness
A full body harness comes with either a front or back clip. We recommend front-clip harness's as back clip ones tend to promote pulling. So depending on your dog's breed (especially if your dog is a pulling breed), this may be an option in leashes and harnesses that would promote the incorrect behavior.
*Training Tip: Front-Clip Harnesses are a great alternative if you are in a more casual setting and not necessarily in training mode with your dog or in a high-traffic area where your dog should be alert and checked in with you. Utilizing this on a hike or activity where there is less structure involved is recommended.
Keep In Mind
If you're building up your training tool arsenal, these "7 Must Haves" are a great place to start. Research the type of breed that you have as this could effect the type of leash practice your pup needs or traits in your particular dog's breed that you need to keep in mind. At-home training is a great way to build confidence in your pup, teach obedience so that your pup listens to your verbal commands when necessary and reinforces the bond between your family's pack at home.
While at-home training is a good start, it in no way replaces formal training sessions by a professional. Formal training not only benefits your dog, but it also educates and empowers the owner to take command and lead when necessary.
So if you're looking for formal training, CLICK HERE to access our in-house training options. While we practice light leash corrections while out on our walks with our Pack Leaders, our formal training, taught by our seasoned trainer, Martina, will help resolve any behavior that your dog has and give you the tools to build confidence in your dog and yourself.
Thanks for reading and having an interest in strengthening your bond with your pup!
AUTHOR'S NOTES & DISCLOSURE: The opinions of this blog post are based on personal experiences and research. While we realize that there are a variety of dog training methods, please understand that the information presented is based from our team's opinion, expertise and experiences. All recommendations are suggested based on previous research and have not been paid for or should be considered as paid advertisements. OC Pup Scouts is not to be held liable should you have a negative personal experience with any of these resources as they are based on independent recommendations.