New equipment for your dog
If you’ve been in to a pet shop recently, or looked online, you’ll know there are so many dog products available! Some of these are great and you might have seen the force-free stock we have in our shop at our state of the art facilities in Whiston, Staffordshire.
We all use lots of equipment for our dogs – harnesses, leads, collars, coats and muzzles are the most common.
Is it aversive?
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell whether the new bit of kit you’ve been eyeing up is actually going to be nice for your dog or not. To work out if new equipment for your dog is aversive we recommend asking yourself these questions;
- Does it tighten or restrict movement in any way?
- Would I be concerned if someone tried to use it on me or my child?
- Does it make a noise?
- Does my dog dislike it (moves away, tries to get it off etc.)?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then your dog likely finds it aversive.
We don’t recommend the use of anything aversive in training, and instead train force-free. We don’t need to hurt or scare dogs whilst training them, and in fact training through aversives is very damaging to our dogs. It also breaks down the relationship between guardian and dog as you are the one using these scary techniques!
Remember that advertising can be done great! Just because the packaging says it is “gentle” or “kind” doesn’t mean that it is. Think about how that piece of equipment will work on your dog. Also remember that there are NO quick fixes in dog training. If a piece of kit promises to change your dog’s behaviour – don’t believe it! We change behaviour through consistent training and only use equipment to help us or make things safer, not to do the training!
Introducing new equipment for your dog
Even if you pick the perfect piece of equipment for your dog it doesn’t mean they are going to love it if you just put it on them straight away.
Image a pair of shoes you really want. You saw them in an advert or on display, and you thought they are lovely. You imagined wearing them and then picked them out in the right size and tried them on with no pressure and in your own time.
Imagine the same shoes but you’d never seen them before. Someone comes up to you, holds you down and shoves them on your feet without you knowing about it beforehand and without checking your shoe size to see if it would be comfortable. The product could be great but if it’s introduced poorly your dog is likely going to have a negative emotional response towards it.
How to do it
Always introduce new equipment for your dog slowly. Make it enjoyable for your dog. Pair new items with known pleasant stimulus e.g. a muzzle on the floor and play or treats around them is a nice gentle introduction. Remember to stop at any point if your dog appears uncomfortable. Discuss with your local force-free trainer if you need more help introducing items to your dog.