When people become dog owners for the first time, one of their top worries is how to train their fur babies properly. The good behavior and set routine that are a result of successful training make a huge difference in both the dog’s and dog owners’ lives, as well as in their relationship with each other. Conversely, inadequate or inconsistent training will make it harder to wean dogs off of potentially harmful and risky behaviors that will affect their entire household.
First-time dog owners, however, will become more confident about establishing a training regimen if they have the right items in their toolkit. Below is a list of essential items that will ensure safe, smooth, and fruitful training experiences for first-time dog parents and their pups.
A Martingale Collar
The first item on the list is a quality dog collar. Martingale-type collars, which have double loops on them, are quite ideal for first-time dog owners and particularly energetic dogs or puppies. A martingale collar can automatically adjust the slack around a dog’s neck, which prevents the dog from choking if they jerk forward or pull their leash. This mechanism can also keep the dog from trying to twist or back out from under their collar, and this in turn makes leash training both more effective and more comfortable for the dog.
Owners can celebrate the milestone of being a dog parent for the first time with custom martingale collars. Fortunately, many prominent pet brands sell martingale collars with appealing designs, so pet parents shouldn’t have any trouble finding the perfect ones for their fur babies.
A Size-appropriate Leash
The second must-have item for training is an appropriately sized leash. The right size depends on the dog’s own size and weight. Medium-length leashes are good for small and medium dogs, while bigger and more powerful dog breeds demand longer leashes.
Buyers should also look for leashes made out of the sturdiest and most damage-resistant materials. This will ensure that the leash stays intact in the earliest days of training, when a dog may still have the inclination to chew on it. It’s not just a matter of saving money on leash replacements; it’s also a matter of the dog’s safety during training. If the dog accidentally ingests rope bristles or plastic material, they might be plagued with dental, gular, or digestive problems.
One of the most important concepts that a dog and their first-time owner will learn is positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement imparts desirable behavior to dogs with the use of rewards. Going through the motions of positive reinforcement will also teach the dog parent to be clear and direct in communicating with their dog.
A handheld clicker is a very useful tool for positive reinforcement training. When a dog performs a desired behavior, like sitting when being told, the owner can use the device to make a distinct clicking sound before giving the dog a treat. Soon enough, the dog will learn to associate the clicking sound with something pleasant and behave just as the owner intends.
A Dog Bowl and a No-skid Mat
The dog’s meals are also an important part of their training. Puppies will need to eat up to three times a day, while most grown dogs should eat about twice a day. The dog’s owner should get them used to a healthy routine for eating, which includes setting aside a particular time for meals and discernible cues like putting the dog’s bowl on the floor.
Dog parents would do well to invest in sturdy and easy-to-clean dog bowls like those made of steel. These are best accompanied by no-skid mats so that the dog doesn’t make too much of a mess while they’re eating.
A Dog Crate
Contrary to what some first-time owners believe, crate training is not a cruel practice. For as long as the dog sees the crate as a safe and homey place to be, they won’t hesitate to go inside and stay put. This is useful for when it’s time to sleep, when it’s time for the owner to clean their house up, or when the dog is due for a visit to the vet.
Owners should invest in durable crates that are easy to set up and transport. They should also provide items that will help the dog see the crate as their personal den or safe space, like a dog blanket and the dog’s favorite toy. Dog parents should also remember not to keep their dogs crated for too long; a dog should only stay in their crate for up to eight hours at a time, lest they feel restless and stressed.
A Baby Gate for Dogs
One last investment that dog owners can make for their dog’s training is a baby gate. This can be used to seal off bathrooms, study rooms, and other rooms that are off-limits to the dog. The added fencing can also prevent them from escaping into the street and getting lost or seriously hurt.
Baby gates can also serve a practical purpose beyond protecting the dog from harm and keeping them from causing a ruckus. A dog owner can also train their pup to stay put and observe boundaries by tossing treats into the permissible side of the baby gate. When choosing what type of baby gate to invest in, dog parents can opt for the free-standing type, the collapsible type, or the type that’s screwed into a wall. The bars should be close enough together to make it difficult for the dog to slip through or slip under the gate.
Dog training may be one of the most difficult aspects of owning a pup, but a healthy training regimen will ensure a happy and fulfilling life for both the pet and their parent. This will be possible with the right items—as well as the right attitude—towards dog training.
First-time owners need not be too scared; there’s a whole community of fellow pet parents and pet experts that can offer them some much-needed support. They can draw from these people’s advice to make their dog’s training a positive experience for everyone involved.