I'm sure there are many of you out there like myself, who have dozens of pieces of dog training equipment that you no long use because you've decided that they don't work. I know I have hooks and hooks full of leashes, harnesses, collars, haltis, gentle-leaders, flat collars, prong collars, e-collars, and so much more. Once I decided to take training seriously and make it my profession, I see all of this equipment and consider organizing it, or getting rid of it, but either way it made me think... Why do we end up accumulating so many different pieces of dog training equipment?
Now the simple answer was your leash or collar may have gotten old, dirty, damaged, and you got a new one or replace it, or you just found a new version of something you already had that was just the perfect color to match your dog's eyes! However, as I stare at this eye sore of various pieces of equipment, all with different uses, different purposes, and so on... and I realize I haven't used nearly any of these in months, if not longer, I realize why I ended up with all of them. Before I dive into my little epiphony, I take a moment to try to estimate just how much each piece of equipment costs, and how many pieces of there, and honestly the total is probably somewhere in the several hundreds of dollars (not adjusting for everything now being in "used" condition).
Now, don't get me wrong, some of it I bought mainly because I thought it looks really cool.
While some other pieces of equipment I have for safety purposes.
But the realization that I came to recently is that the majority of equipment I own, most of which I never use any more, I purchased becaues I could not figure out how to get my dog to stop pulling on the leash. I even went to a "Professional Trainer" (I use that term loosely), and they still could not teach me how to get my dog not to pull on the leash. They suggested another half-dozen pieces of equipment to help me try to get my dog to JUST STOP PULLING! But, nothing I bought worked, and thus each new piece of equipment I bought just hangs on up my wall of shame.
Now that I've got to a actual Canine Training and Behavior Specialist certification course, and spent three looooooong months learning as much as I could about canine psychology, operant and classical conditioning, and how dogs learn, I've come to realize it doesn't have a whole lot to do with what equipment you do when you want your dog to do something. Don't get me wrong, there are still a few pieces of equipment I prefer to use, but not because they make it any easier or harder to train the dog, but simply because they are safer for the dog during training.
I used to use a Halti, similar to a Gentle Leader, and I thought that it was doing a great job of teaching my dog not to pull, because, well, he didn't pull as hard. But the reason my dog didn't pull as hard was because the leash was pulling the front of his face, forcing his mouth shut, and probably straining his neck. If he did see something that he wanted to go after, this piece of equipment could do some serious damage. And without knowing really how to train my dog, this was a real possibility.
If I had taken all of the money I had spent on all of these pieces of equipment that promised to "stop your dog from pulling instantly!" I could have just paid for some real training from the beginning. Just like there is no miracle pill to help you loose weight, or a waist trainer to give you a real hour glass look just by wearing it every day, there is no instant cure for a dog who pulls on the leash. However, its not actually a difficult thing to accomplish if you understand how dog's learn. Every client I work with has their dog walking nearly in a heel by the end of the first lesson. And the clients who continue to practice once they go home always note a remarkable improvement!
So the next time you see a new piece of training gear that guarantees to stop your dog from pulling during your walks, take a picutre of it, don't buy it, and bring it to us and we'll give your first training session for half price. This is also a little Easter Egg to see if anyone is actually reading this far into the blog posts... lol.
What equipment do I use know?
A Mendota Slip Leash - 1/2" by 6'
E-Collar Technologies ET-904 - a four-dog remote collar training system
And a whole lot of treats.