Last week we went over my favorite training tools. As a refresher, this includes treats, clickers, treat pouches, and refillable squeeze tubes. This week we’re going to look at some of my favorite behavior management tools.
As I said last week, our tools are really broken up into three categories:
We’ll go over each week by week. This week we will focus on Management Tools.
Most management tools are meant to be used only while you’re working on establishing better behavior in your dog. Some, such as harnesses and leashes, must always be used. Sometimes we find that using them just makes everyone’s lives so much easier so we just keep using them.
You can purchase all of these items from us at our Training Center!
BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT TOOLS
FRONT-CLIP HARNESSES: Some might categorize harnesses as a training tool, but I don’t and I don’t believe they should be either. Harnesses are designed to control where your dog goes when attached to another management tool, the leash (we’ll talk about that next). Harnesses provide the most amount of management with the least amount of pressure on the body. I never recommend collars to walk your dog on. Collars of all types have the potential to cause damage to all the vital organs in your dog’s neck. A study just came out a few months ago showing the damage that can be caused from flat buckle, martingale, slip, choke, and prong collars. So, harnesses FTW!
The gold standard of front-clip harnesses is the Freedom Harness by 2 Hounds Design. This hardness has two contact points for you to clip your leash to. The back contact point has a martingale loop to give your dog a gentle squeeze if they begin pulling, and this squeeze usually indicates to your dog to slow down a little bit. The front contact point helps take pressure off of the front of your dog and redirect them if needed. The Freedom Harness has multiple adjustments which help make it the best-fitted harness I have seen. Finally, for our sensitive skin pups, it has velvet on the strap that goes under your dog’s armpits to prevent rubbing and chafing.
FIXED-LENGTH LEASH: Leashes are a great way to make sure you can keep your dog under control and that they don’t get lost. The vast majority of municipalities require them. Leashes are also a great way to be polite to other folks and dogs when you’re out on your walk.
I never recommend a retractable leash, and the reasons why are numerous. Simply said, retractable leashes are unsafe, provide minimal control, and break often.
By using a 4-6 foot fixed-length leash, you’re able to keep your dog close to you, safe from running away and traffic. I don’t have a preferred brand. I like flat 6-foot leashes that are less than an inch wide and made of soft nylon. What matters is if it’s comfortable in your hand, even if you fold it over a few times.
BABY GATES: Baby gates are a great way to keep dogs contained in certain areas of your home or away from problem areas like the front door or kitchen. They are also great if you need to keep resident pets separated from each other. Baby gates come in a number of styles, heights, and widths. I like the ones with the step-through doors, but any gates that fit your situation and budget are fine!
VISUAL BARRIERS: Many dogs are reactive to things they see. You know them, you either have a dog that likes to bark at every person that walks by your front window or you have seen and heard them when you’re out walking your dog.
Something as simple as putting up some translucent contact paper or wax paper will reduce the visual triggers for your dog. I find mini-blinds and curtains don’t cut it, because your dog will figure out how to get their head through. If you have multiple dogs in your home that don’t get along or are new to each other, hanging a sheet over your baby gates will help reduce them staring at and upsetting each other.
CRATES: Crates can be a wonderful tool if your dog is happy to chill and relax in them. Most of the time, crates provide a safe space for your dog to be while you’re working on potty training, reducing boredom behaviors, or while you’re gone. There are some dogs that have confinement anxiety and can hurt themselves trying to get out of their crate, obviously for them, we don’t want to use this tool.
Again, I don’t have a specific brand I like over another. I do tend to like the wire crates with two doors. But there is no real reason for that other than they are affordable, durable, collapsible, and most dogs don’t have an issue with them like they may have with crates that are more confining.
MUZZLES: Muzzles are always a hot topic. Many people think muzzles are mean to use on a dog or that it means they have an unpredictable, aggressive dog. Both are untrue. Some day I’ll do a blog on why I advocate for the use of muzzles, but today is not that day.
I use muzzles for a variety of reasons, yes, one is to ensure a dog doesn’t bite anyone. But sometimes it’s to help keep people away from a dog that needs space or to keep a dog from eating things it shouldn’t.
My go-to muzzle is the Baskerville Ultra. It fits most dogs (except for those squishy-faced doggos) and goes on easily. Most pet supply stores carry these muzzles, so they are easy to get your hands on and are rather cheap.
My second favorite muzzle is the Bumas Muzzle. The Bumas Muzzle is custom made for your particular dog. This is great for extremely large, extremely small, or squishy-faced dogs. You can pick out what color you want it to be as well. It does take a while for these muzzles to get to you and they’re pricey due to them being custom made. But they are well worth the price and the wait.
I hope you found some information in this blog that makes managing your dog’s behavior a little easier. While you put these management ideas into place, please contact me to schedule an appointment to resolve the behavior issues you are having!