Training Equipment

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Training Equipment:

All good trainers will ensure that they have the correct and good quality training equipment before attempting to train a dog. What is important is that the correct instrument is used to solve a particular problem as it is encountered.

The Leash/Lead:

Medium to large dogs should have either leather or cotton webbing leads that must be at least 750mm long.
Nylon is suited for small dogs. Chain leads are painful on hands and useless for training but can be used for dogs that chew their leads. For training purposes the 5m and 10m long leads/lines are essential as well as the short Tab-leash for off-leash control.

The Tab Leash:

The Tab consists of a short (200mm) leash that does not drag on the ground but enables the trainer to gain control over the dog when he is free. A Tab leash can easily be made at home.

Collars:

All dogs must wear a training   collar, which fits only the dog’s neck, and which must remain on the dog at all  times. For competition purposes: “Nothing (e.g. medals) may be attached to the collar except a lead when told to do so.”

Collars are needed to properly control the dog and to assist in preventing bad habits such as refusing to come, running away, biting etc. This does not imply in any way that pain is inflicted. Abuse can never be regarded as proper training. A pup must not be spanked or scolded for anything that he does not understand or has been taught.

Before deciding on which collar to use, it is important to understand the correct use of the different collars i.e. how they are applied to administer a proper communication with the dog. Most handlers, in spite of demonstrations and instructions, never seem to be able to master the proper leash/collar technique.

The message to correct or initiate behaviour starts in the handler’s brain and moves quickly along his arm to the hand and wrist that is connected to the dog’s lead and collar. The wrist and hand must make a quick snap and release action for the “message” to continue to the dog.  It is not a pull with the arm, but rather a small “popof the wrist. This means that the lead must have the correct slackness for the “pop” to be communicated to the collar.

A lead that is too tight will only result in a pulling sensation and the dog will not be able to connect  the “pop” with the behaviour for which it is being corrected.The collar must be fitted so that the correction is felt in the dog’s neck for a split second only
and at the right moment. Too much slack will not pass the message on at all or may be too late. Fitted properly, and used correctly, all collars can be effective.

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of the different collars.

The Buckle/Fixed Collar:

A flat buckle/fixed collar made of nylon or leather is ideal for puppies and smaller breed dogs for elementary or basic obedience training. It should be large enough to allow for growth. You should always be able to easily slide two fingers under the collar when it is properly fastened. It will take a few days for the dog to “forget” about the collar and ignore it. As the dog grows bigger and stronger there is a tendency for these collars to slip off over the head with the result that the dog can run away and be injured.

Instructors can advise on the correct collar for the dog.

The Choke/Check Chain or Slip Collar:

This is the most popular collar used in this country yet is possibly the most difficult to use correctly. It may take a couple of months to learn the proper technique. Most trainers find it very difficult to communicate effectively with their dogs using the choke chain.

Properly fitted the live ring, which is at the end of the chain that passes over the dog’s neck and is attached to the leash, should not extend past the dead ring, which comes from below the neck, by more than 25-30mm(1-2 inches) or so, otherwise it will be too slack to effect  proper communication with the dog.

The communication with a choke chain comes from a quick constriction on the dog’s throat followed by an immediate release. This means that the leash must always be at the proper tension for the “pop” action of the wrist to have effect. When the chain is tightened and released, the links make a noise and the dog will soon respond to that soud. ( Remember, if a dog can hear a grasshopper chew he can also hear the links tightening.) “Checking,” infact, means tightening and releasing the lead in quick succession, always leaving the dog with a loose lead.

The slip collar/choke chain must be fitted the correct way otherwise it will not automatically slacken off after a “pop.”

Many dog trainers are of the opinion that the choke chain is more humane than other training collars. However, if fitted incorrectly, the sawing action and incorrect use of the choke chain can cause pain and serious injury to a dog’s throat and wear away the hair around the neck.  The long link collar or “fur saver” is recommended for dogs with a longer coat. They have an added advantage in that they can be dead tied by putting the catch back onto a link and it is now no longer able to choke the dog. This is useful in some Shutzhund exercises where the dog is encouraged to pull without being choked.er use of ineffectual corrections may lead to the dog building up a resistance to it with the result that greater force is required than may be needed.

The Halti:

The Halti operates much the same as a horse halter in that it works from the dog’s head (muzzle and face area) and provides much greater control than neck collars.  Many dogs take some time getting used to it because it is not natural for dogs to have something around their mouths. Haltis work if used properly.  However, it is important to remember that for security reasons the Halti must always be used with another collar in case it comes off.

The Halti is recommended for handlers having difficulty gaining control over the dog with other collars. It is ideal for cases where the dog is stronger than the handler, such as child handlers or small, frail, handicapped or pregnant handlers. It is also very effective for control over aggressive, hyperactive or easily distracted dogs. My personal concern is that I often come across people who swear by how effective they find the halti and the poor dog then has to wear it for the rest of its life.

The Halti is not a muzzle and is not allowed in the obedience ring and does not fit well on short-faced dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Staffies etc.

The Training Harness: “WalkRite”

This training harness, when fitted fully, is a kind method of control which counteracts any tendency to pull or lunge and teaches the dog controlled and relaxed walking.

The stop lines that are attached to the collar and pass down behind the dog’s legs and up the front of the chest can be removed. In this way the dog can be gradually weaned off the stop lines and  walk correctly with collar and lead only.

It must always be remembered that all of the above are training tools that are removed after training. Your aim must be VOICE control over your dog and NOT leash control!

The Training/Pinch/Prong Collar. This collar consists of a band of interlocking sections that have short blunt ends. These prongs are not spikes and do not dig into the dog’s skin. It is criticized more for its looks, yet if fitted correctly; it is possibly a better training collar because it requires less force on the lead to effect a correction. The prongs are designed to produce a pinch and not to puncture but
to act more like the way the mother dog corrects her pups. A quick, startling nip in the neck.

This collar is wider, has limited constriction and with the shortness of the stubs, is not likely to injure the dog. Due to the fact that it exerts pressure or pinch all-round the neck, it has been called “power steering” because it takes only a slight “pop” of the wrist to
get a proper correction.

The pinch collar is fitted high on the dog’s neck, just behind the ears. It should be tight enough so that the fingers can just get under the prongs. A collar that is too loose will slide down the neck and then can hurt the dog.

The pinch collar is not used on small, lightweight or friendly dog. It should also not be used by an uninformed trainer.

Corretions are usually communicated to the dog more effectively with less risk of injury because trainers using this collar learn how to administer a correction that does not require force to bring about the desired behaviour in the dog. With this collar a small person with a large unruly dog will be better able to control him. If your dog is a dog fighter this collar may help to break the habit.

In the beginning the dog should wear the training collar at least an hour before training to allow the dog to “forget” about it otherwise he
becomes clever and works well only when he wears the collar. Also known as being “collar-smart.”

The training collar must not be left on an unsupervised dog because it can get hooked on a gate or fence etc. Remove the collar after training and when you leave home.

The collar can also be fitted inside out so that the prongs face away from the dog.

The object of training is communication with your dog! Beginner trainers are inclined to continue pulling on the leash when they use this collar. This is a wrong because the collar was designed for a “pop” and release action that will help the dog to understand what the handler wants. It is not to enforce your will on the dog!!!!

The pinch collar is not allowed in shows or obedience competitions and is a reason why many trainers do not want to use it. Some regard it as a clumsy implement and do not like its “springy-clingy” feel on the dog’s neck.

Please read my article: Timing a Correction.”

The Dumbbell:

The dumbbell is made of wood or solid plastic and must be shaped like a dumbbell. The weight/mass and size of the dumbbell may vary with the size of the dog.

 

 

 

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