Obedience Training Tools for Dogs

Nov 08, 2023


Obedience training is vitally important after you bring home a new puppy. Your dog's ability to respond to cues will help ensure their safety in new environments and prevent you from feeling like a Velociraptor has moved into your house. Believe it or not, all puppies need some training, even if they seem naturally well-behaved or are so tiny that you cannot imagine their behaviour becoming a problem. From cues like "stay," "drop it," and "down" to more universal puppy skills, like using the potty outside, our list of obedience tools for dogs should make your experience a stress-free bonding experience with your pup.


6’ Leather or Nylon Leash

For training, use a traditional dog leash. Retractable leashes do not teach dogs proper walking etiquette or safety because they give untrained dogs more control over their distance from you, allowing them to invade the personal space of other walkers. Choosing a leash with a good length is crucial so that you have flexibility in how much slack you decide to give your dog. Especially with dogs in training, it is vital to secure the leash by wrapping it around your hand once or twice. Longer leashes offer greater security without sacrificing your dog's mobility.

However, traditional leashes are commonly chewed up by puppies. Keep your leash stored away from your dog except for walking time, and check the leash for substantial bite damage if your dog ends up chewing it up.

Regarding security, retractable leashes are much less safe for puppies in training than traditional leashes. There is no way to secure a retractable leash around your hand. If the retractable leash handle is dropped, it may shoot towards the dog, startling them and causing them to run into other pedestrians or traffic.

Nylon leashes are inexpensive, come in various colours and thicknesses, and are widely available. These popular leashes make training time easy.

Leather leashes are a great option for many puppies and are one of the safest choices. They offer the same safety options as nylon leashes but survive chewing much better. Leather leash users prefer nylon because they do not become slippery like nylon leashes.


Flat quick-release collar

Flat quick-release collars are easy to put on and do not come off unless the quick-release is intentionally pressed. These are a must for fluffy dogs whose fur makes it difficult to see while putting on a collar; these are a must. Quick-release collars are easy to adjust and will not tighten around your dog's neck, even if they begin to pull you.


Front-clipping harness

Harnesses are great for dogs whose necks are sensitive, as well as dogs who are stocky and don't have much neck. Dogs who know how to slip out of collars generally cannot slip their neck and front paws out of a harness. Collars risk neck injuries to dogs who won't stop pulling. Toy breeds are at high risk for developing a collapsed trachea, a permanent injury that can result in years of coughing and discomfort.

Front-clipping harnesses minimize the feeling of pulling for you, but they do not tighten on the dog in any way. For dogs that won't stop blazing ahead of their owners, choke collars, and similar tightening tools have sometimes been used to train the behaviour. Choke collars are not compassionate and often ineffective: their use with pulling dogs can result in anxiety that makes the pulling worse. Negative reinforcement should never be used with dogs as it is cruel and seldom results in training success.


Easy-to-eat treats

However, positive reinforcement is one of the dogs' most important obedience training tools. Before going outside to train, pack treats that are easy for you to carry and can be quickly consumed by your dog.

Your dog won't feel slighted, and you can ensure the training doesn't cause them to gain weight.

You can also save treats for new cues you are still trying to teach. Once a dog has learned to sit or come, for example, wean them off the expectation that sitting or coming will earn them a treat and only use goodies for more complicated cues like not jumping up, not pulling the leash, or going to the bathroom outside.


Treat pouch

Almost as important as the treats themselves is the idea that a treat could be offered. Dogs have incredible object recognition: they know their leash and food bowl, and research suggests that they learn to anticipate the little things you do subconsciously before feeding or walking them. A recognizable, designated "treat pouch" is a powerful obedience training tool. If your dog sees or hears the same container every time a treat is offered, they will remember to do the behaviours that earn them that treat.

Treats are beneficial in a worst-case scenario. If you drop the leash or otherwise lose total control of your dog outside, nothing sets the situation back on track like the possibility of a food reward. If this happens, do not reward your dog for losing control; simply take out the treat pouch and make sure your dog sees it.


Dog’s favourite toy

Bring your dog's favourite toy in your pocket or bag, but don't let your dog know that you have it. When it becomes incredibly challenging to get your dog back under control, their prized possession is a fantastic distraction from running squirrels, strangers throwing a ball around, and that dropped hot dog on the path. In many cases, your dog will be so surprised to see their favourite toy that they will forget about whatever it was that you wanted them to stop investigating.



Clicker training takes obedience to the next level by teaching dogs what cue to follow, specifically when to do it. Clickers are inexpensive, and the clicking sound clarifies your behaviour expectation for the dog.

Clicker training is based on positive reinforcement, so it will not work unless treats are part of the training strategy. Every time your dog obeys the clicker, you must reward them with a treat.


Target stick

A target stick must get the most out of clicker training. Dogs (and cats) can learn some of your most complicated cues with this incredible training tool. A target stick is an extended object with an object of interest at the tip. Your dog will learn to touch or follow the tip of the stick, depending on the cue you give them. This excellent training tool teaches dogs not to jump on people or furniture.

To make the object enjoyable to your dogs, make it smell significant by rubbing it in your dog's food. Some target sticks allow you to hide a treat inside them. To get a dog to not engage with a person, point the target stick away from the person and click your clicker. When the dog follows the stick, reward them with a treat.


Head harness

Head harnesses are another great way to deter pulling behaviour without putting as much tension on their neck. Head harnesses can be particularly helpful for dogs whose pulling is caused by nervousness, as this harness has been found to calm down anxious dogs. Part of the harness operates as a traditional collar, and the other part goes around their muzzle. Head harnesses might be helpful if your dog becomes overly excited around other dogs. These harnesses still require caution on the owner's part to ensure the dog is not experiencing neck strain, but they are a much better option than a traditional collar for pulling dogs.



Longline leashes offer all the length of a retractable leash without any safety hazards. They are, essentially, a very long traditional leash.

Longlines can provide a fantastic bonding opportunity, with profound mental health benefits, for dogs and owners alike. They were popularized on the podcast Cog-Dog Radio, in which professional dog trainer Sarah Stremming introduced the term "decompression walk." Decompression walks are relaxed meanders through uncrowded, possibly wooded areas where your dog is simply allowed to be a dog: stopping to sniff, sitting and taking in a breeze, and simply being with you.

Usually, ten to thirty-feet-long, longline leashes allow your dog to take up the space they need while still in contact with you. We recommend longline leashes and decompression walks, for that matter, for dogs who have some experience and skill walking on a leash and obeying cues.

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