26 clever tricks trainers use to make dogs behave much better

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Dog owners, assemble. If you’ve ever wandered the aisles of a pet store, or scrolled through endless screens of products and toys for sale, you know just how many choices we have when it comes to beneficial things you can buy for dogs. It can feel next to impossible to tell one brand of treats from another, to pick between identical leashes, and decide between all the toys and chews on the market. Not only that, it can feel even more overwhelming when we’re trying to make decisions with training and behavioral goals in mind. Thankfully, there are some great resources out there to help dog owners, and along with the help of some experts, we’ve compiled a list of products and clever tricks trainers use to make dogs behave better.

So, if you’d like your good boy or good girl to be an even better boy or girl, take note. Whether you’re working on pulling or chewing or answering commands, there are plenty of options for you here. And, if your good boy or girl is already the best dog that could ever possibly be, then you’ll still find plenty of ways to reward their great behavior and make your pet-owning life easier, too.

01

This 2-pack of training clickers to let your dog know he’s the best boy

As Annie Grossman, co-founder of New York City’s School For The Dogs explains, clickers can “pinpoint desired behaviors with precision... it’s a really nice and effective and clear way to give information to the dog.” Essentially, click right when your dog exhibits the behavior you want for positive reinforcement (follow with a treat). This set of clickers comes with two that are light, easy to use, and come with a wristband and clip so you can keep track of them.

02

This clever feeder that expends mental energy & slows down eating

Nicole Ellis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Pet Lifestyle Expert with Rover, says, “LickiMat dog bowls are a magical gift to dog trainers. Using a LickiMat for food and treats slows down mealtime, helps a dog release stress, keeps them occupied and provides mental stimulation. It really works.” They’re great for dogs of all sizes, and come in three colors.

03

This treat toy that attaches to a crate for positive associations

Ellis, who’s been a partner for Diggs, also digs the brand’s Groov toy for how it helps dogs relax in their crates. They’re easy to attach to crates, and to fill with peanut butter and other frozen treats. She says, “they're made from safe BPA-free materials, and they easily connect to the side of most crates, helping to create [a] positive and rewarding experience with crate training."

04

A tried & true gate to keep your pups safe (and out of trouble)

Turns out, a classic baby gate can be just as helpful for fur babies as it can for human babies. Kellie Stevens, CPDT-KA, and Gonzo Dog Certified Trainer, says that owners can “use these to limit access for issues like housebreaking, begging at the dinner table and jumping on guests.”

05

This trusty leash with a padded handle & reflective stitching

Stevens also likes these reflective dog leashes, noting that they are “great for providing a more comfortable and better sense of control to handlers whose dogs bark and lunge at things. The second handle keeps dogs close, and it's neoprene-padded to cushion the impact!” They come in 4- and 6-foot lengths, and there are six colors to choose from.

06

A durable, versatile harness that helps curb enthusiasm for pulling

As Stevens reminds us, “Dogs have opposition reflex just like humans. When they experience tension and pulling from the back, it signals their brain to go forward. Alternatively, when the tension happens in the front — it signals their body to slow down.” This 3-in-1 dog harness helps to counter those instincts, and offers other features too, like a car clip and adjustable fit.

07

A teaser wand with attached toy that your dog can chase indoors & out

Another favorite of Stevens, this interactive training toy is just the thing to get your dog to play and exercise. She says, “Got a dog with high prey drive who likes to terrorize the squirrels in your neighborhood? Let them chase this around instead!” It comes with two toys that squeak and rattle, and it’s great for breeds of all sizes.

08

A feeding mat that makes dogs think & forage for their treats

This snuffle mat mimics the grass and brush that a dog may search through to find food in nature. Stevens points out, “This meets that sniffing and foraging need to potentially decrease your dog's need to look for food outside on walks!” Plus, it’s machine washable, so it’s easy to clean and maintain, even when your pupper accidentally leaves a treat behind.

09

The classic Kong toy for even the strongest chewers

Another favorite of Stevens, the tough and tested Kong chew toy is a must-have for most dog owners. "Have two or three of these!” she suggests. “You can freeze things like Kibble and schmears inside to make them last even longer, so while your dog is eating one — you can have another one freezing to prepare for later.”

10

A puzzle toy that will keep your pup’s brain & nose busy

This interactive puzzle toy keeps treats hidden until your dog does the hard work of finding them. Stevens suggests, “Ditch the bowl and use things [like this] to feed meals two-three times daily” for enrichment. With four difficulty levels and multiple shapes and sizes to select, pups of all experience levels will be able to play.

11

A treat ball that’s more than just fun & games

Another favorite of Stevens, this Tricky Treat ball holds snacks and treats, and requires dogs to work with the ball to dispense them. It can also be used as a regular toss and fetch toy, and it’s made of vinyl rubber, so it withstands lots of play, and can be easily cleaned.

12

An interactive toy that accommodates tasty longer treats

Stevens is a fan of this interactive dog toy, too. The shape is more conducive to long, stick-shaped treats, and she notes that owners can also use “schmears like peanut butter, cream cheese, wet food and kibble,” along with other favorite fresh foods, too. There are two sizes, and three bright colors available.

13

This goodie-dispensing bone that’s made of safer-to-chew rubber

Stevens says, “I personally steer clear of hard chews like antlers... due to possible tooth crackage.” Enter this KONG goodie bone, which you — surprise! — also fill with treats. Like the traditional cone-shaped chew toys from the same brand, it’s super durable. Plus, it comes in three different sizes, so owners can select the best one for their pup’s needs.

14

These trainer-approved bully sticks that your dog will drool over

Of course, sometimes you might want your dog to have something to chew on that’s made with actual meat. In that case, Stevens recommends these bully sticks as “natural chews for chewing needs.” They contain just one ingredient, and are made using a slow process that also cuts down on odors, too.

15

A long lead that gives dogs more freedom to explore

Kevin Ryan from Superb Dog recommends a long line leash for training, noting that while it may seem to be an old school tool, it can be highly effective if used correctly. He says, “it’s great for teaching recalls and stays, or when you want to maintain control during free runs.’’ Plus, the Biothane material of this choice is a durable and comfortable alternative to leather or nylon leashes.

16

This handy spray that deters dogs from chewing where they shouldn’t

If your beloved dog is chewing on, well, anything that isn’t meant for chewing, you may want to consider this no chew spray. Ryan explains that the flavor is hated by most dogs, and that it “can be a strong deterrent and help teach the dog what is off-limits to chew.”

17

A no-pull harness that uses leg restraints & won’t choke your pet

Ryan notes that while it’s best to train dogs to avoid pulling, a no-pull, no-choke harness is the best choice as you’re working on it with them. He says, “I’ve been recommending the Sporn Non-Pull Halter Harness for 30 years. It is light, easy to put on once you learn how, and immediately stops most dogs from pulling on the leash."

18

A no-pull harness that rests against the chest

Most experts are in agreement about no-pull harnesses, and Ashley Sloat, Owner of Silver Point Canine also has a go-to that she suggests, the PetSafe Easy Walk Harness. “When it pulls, the harness guides the dog to the side and redirects its attention towards you,” she says. “I recommend this no-pull harness as it rests against the chest as opposed to the throat, eliminating any chance of choking.”

19

A delicious treat to distract pups when you’re leaving the home

Dr. Darcia Kostiuk, a veterinarian and in-house specialist for Champion Pet Foods, tells us, “Calm greetings and departures are always best. To help with goodbyes, have a toy or treat ready several minutes ahead of time to distract them when you are leaving.” In addition to being Dr.Kostiuk’s go-to, these crunchy dog treats come in a range of flavors.

20

A fresh food or water station that’s easy for you & your dog

This automatic feeder or water bowl keeps food or water available and uses gravity to refill as they eat or drink. As Dr. Kostiuk notes, "We have marvelous technological aids that can help us.” This choice is a sleek and subtle choice that looks nice in any home, and that comes apart for easy cleaning.

21

This interactive toy that entices & encourages dogs to play

Dr. Kostiuk is also a fan of this interactive squeaky toy, explaining that “devices that ‘play’ with your pet can help in managing their behavior.” This ball shakes and makes noises to motivate your dog, and it’s easy for you to use, too. It charges by USB, and comes with two plush covers that are easy to remove and wash.

22

A practical pouch for treats & baggies with room for your keys & phone

When you want to keep treats close when you’re on a walk or busy training outside, a durable treat pouch is a great idea. Christie Catan, co-founder of the online dog training community Tails of Connection and a certified professional dog trainer, knowledge assessed (CPDT-KA), is a fan of this choice from Doggone Good, which has multiple compartments and an attachable waist belt, too.

23

This padded, practical harness that’s also reflective

This reflective dog harness not only helps with pulling, but according to Ali Smith, Positive Puppy Expert, and the founder of Rebarkable, “the use of this (with a double ended leash particularly) gives the walker more control over their dog, and removes some of the strength of their dog.” It comes in five sizes, and in 10 different colors

24

A long, waterproof leash that stands up to the elements

Smith, like many other experts, is also a fan of long leashes for recall training. This long, strong, waterproof leash comes in a a range of sizes and colors, and is made of Biothane material, which she praises for its durability and strength. She tells us, “It cleans up wonderfully! Unlike fabric based lines, these don't sop up rain, mud and snow. So much more practical for most environments.”

25

A cozy pet bed that helps encourage ‘go to your bed’ training

Smith reminds us, “dogs need their own space, and ensuring they have a comfortable bed is a great way to encourage them to sleep more... and it's also really useful to teach a ‘Bed’ cue, which can help in all manner of situations.” This best-selling, donut-shaped bed comes in a variety of sizes and colors, and with or without a coordinating blanket.

26

This tough elephant toy that’s almost as cute as your dog

What’s cuter than a playful dog? The answer is: a playful dog frolicking with a fluffy elephant toy. Smith recommends Edsel the Elephant, which is soft, durable and contains a squeaker that’s sure to get pups excited. Reviewers also praise its toughness, noting that it stands up to even heavy chewers.

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