Trainers use these tricks to make dogs behave better & save you money
This expert advice will lead to one happy pup.
By Caroline Reinstadtler
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Picture this: You’ve made an unplanned pit stop at the animal shelter in your town, and you’ve just met the cutest puppy you’ve ever seen; you know right away that this is the newest member of your family.
Once you’ve brought your new four-legged friend back home, the next step is usually to find a training regimen that works well and saves you money — which might be tricky. Luckily, dog trainers know all the best tricks that can help. Here are the best techniques used by dog trainers to help aid behavior training, and the products that have brought them the most success.
01 Using the right sized harness for your dog
"We have seen an increase in the number of dogs who suffer from injuries and chronic pain as a result of the use of certain harnesses, so the tool must be fitted properly,” advises
Wag n Tails Studio founder and dog training expert Christine Fox. “It’s important to adjust the fit accordingly so the dog doesn’t get chafing on the skin or rubbing that can cause hair loss.”
That's where this
no-pull harness comes in: it's designed with two metal leash rings for maximum safety, so your dog can breathe easily while you keep them firmly by your side. Plus, it's super easy to put on and take off; just slide the harness over their head, adjust the straps and buckles, and you'll be ready to go, whether you're heading on a hike or just a walk around the block. 02 Giving smaller harnesses to smaller dogs
Of course, you want to choose a harness that’ll comfortably accommodate your pup’s size, which makes this
step-in dog harness a great option. Its diminutive size belies its strength since it’s made of reinforced nylon that won’t rip or tear, and it’s an especially great fit for smaller breeds like spaniels, terriers, and pugs.
“After much research, and a lot of experience, we have found that a simple design is best; one made of good quality material that doesn’t move sideways when the leash pulling starts,” advises Fox, and “a harness that isn’t too heavy or bulky is best,” so this one’s basically a no-brainer.
03 Choosing an adjustable harness that will grow with your pup
"I often compare finding the right harness to discovering a good-fitting pair of jeans for people,” shares Fox; “what works for one body style isn’t going to work for someone else. When you finally find that right fit, you know it.”
adjustable harness can help you achieve that perfect fit no matter how much your puppy grows, and its soft neoprene padding keeps your pet protected for the duration of your outdoor adventures. You'll especially appreciate its bungee attachment point, which stretches and absorbs shock for safer games of fetch, especially when the dog park gets extra crowded. 04 Helping your dog get used to the sound of a clicker
“If you want to teach your dog tricks, it's a good idea to start by teaching him to respond to the sound of the clicker,” says dog trainer
Tomasz Pabis. This clicker helps you clearly communicate positive reinforcement, especially when you pair it with a treat after your pup has successfully pulled off a brand-new trick.
Its ergonomic, compact design is incredibly easy to hold, and its attached finger band makes the training process a little more comfortable on your end; as soon as your pup is about eight weeks old, they should be ready to embark on their clicker training journey.
05 Securing a convenient starter kit that comes with a clicker
Save money on individual training tools with this
convenient starter kit, which comes with a treat bag, a training whistle, a potty training doorbell, and, of course, a clicker. Each device in the set can help your pup learn something new, from sitting and staying to using the bathroom outside, and the high-quality clicker you'll receive with your purchase is no exception.
“The sound of the clicker, after proper shaping of the dog, will be associated with a reward and something very positive,” says Pabis. “This will speed up the learning of new commands and make it easier to condition the dog for new tasks.”
06 Finding a delicious reward for your dog
Pabis calls the right reward “crucial when training a dog,” and your pup will be much more likely to sit, stay, and roll over when they come to associate their new tricks with these
yummy treats. With a delectable recipe that's high in fiber and other nutrients, these are the only organic treats on the market at the moment that are fully human-grade; they're made with delicious ingredients like oats, blueberries, and puppy fan-favorite peanut butter.
That said, snacks aren’t the only way to create that positive reinforcement: “For one dog, the reward will be delicious treats, food in general, for another dog, the form of reward will be fun,” advises Pabis.
07 Playing with a fun new toy for positive reinforcement
"Playing with a tug is great fun for a dog,” shares Pabis, and this
flexible tug toy stretches up to twice its length for hours of engaging fun with your best friend. Your pup will especially love this as an alternative to treats when it’s time for positive reinforcement after the successful completion of one of their tasks.
Its unique S-shaped design gives it a dynamic look and feel, and it's lightweight enough for a rousing game of fetch; just don't be surprised if the other dogs in the park feel like joining in the fun.
08 Choosing a toy with a built-in treat to stimulate their minds & taste buds
"There is one more reward for the dog that we can offer him after playing wildly,” says Pabis. “[...] Such a prize is a Kong, a small container with a hole, into which we pour delicacies mixed with, for example, a special pate for dogs."
As your dog plays, this
Kong Wobbler toy will spill, roll, and (of course) wobble around to dispense treats, keeping your dog active and engaged with interactive play they'll seriously enjoy. Because it's made of a food-grade, high-strength polymer, it'll withstand hours and hours of aerobic play, and when you'd like to fill it up, you can simply unscrew the top from the bottom and add your pup's favorite treats. 09 Finding ways to fill your Kong quickly & easily
Because it’s so easy to dispense, this
spreadable treat paste is a great option when you’re looking to refill your Kong toys. All you have to do is insert the nozzle into the toy of your choice and press down for one to two seconds, and you and your dog will be ready for a playdate that's especially satisfying.
You can choose from a wide range of flavors, from pepperoni to peanut butter with bacon and cheese, depending on your dog's palate, and you might just want to buy multiple flavors for a little extra variety in their diet. A word of caution from Pabis: “Kong should be given to the dog after training, not during it.”
10 Making sure you give your pup a predictable routine
“A dog likes predictability, so incorporating rituals into your daily routine can help maintain good behavior,” says Pabis; you can implement this principle by giving your pup a cozy place to sleep each night, like this
calming plush dog bed, for continuity.
Its soft and shaggy faux fur lining will keep them cozy all night long, and its ergonomic design lets your dog burrow and curl with their head and neck resting comfortably on its raised rim. Its lightweight and portable design makes it a great choice for travel, so you can help reduce your pup's anxiety in new spaces and situations by bringing something familiar from home.
11 Organizing your leashes & collars for convenience
On the topic of routine, keeping leashes in a designated location can help your pet catch on quickly when it’s time to take a walk, which is where this
dog leash and collar holder really shines. Made of a smooth zinc alloy material, it's beautifully designed and painted to resist rust and corrosion, and its smooth edges come from laser cutting technology, which keeps your hands safe from sharp and pointy edges.
Of course, you can conveniently hang collars and leashes, but its five hooks make it a versatile decoration you can also use to hang up harnesses, toys, and even human accessories like keys and wristlets.
12 Using a long leash for your walks
Jackie Carleen, Certified Dog Trainer and founder of
Mindful Doggo Dog Training, recommends a longer leash to give your dog "[...] autonomy on their walk. Especially if you have a dog that can be reactive or sensitive to their surroundings while out on a walk, a longer lead can allow your dog to feel less restricted when they approach anything that they find to be a threat.”
Whether your dog is particularly skittish or not, this long leash can help make your walks easier and more fun for both parties, giving them the freedom to move, which reduces anxiety and fear. It's made of a super strong and durable biothane material that helps you hold on tight, so even if it gets wet due to bad weather, it won't slip from your grip.
13 Making sure your dog is safe & secure during road trips
Carleen recommends investing in a
dog car seat cover like this one. “This helps your dog be contained in the car and also offers maximum safety to your dog in case of the unexpected with the seatbelt,” she notes. Its mesh paneling gives your dog visibility, and their ability to see you can reduce their car anxiety in a major way; plus, it's designed with two Velcro openings that work beautifully with seatbelts for increased safety while you drive.
It's designed with a nonslip rubber backing that keeps it in place, so even if the road ahead is paved with twists and turns, you and your pup will stay safe and secure. Says Carleen, “I used this on a 16-hour road trip and it was such a sanity-saver."
14 Training your dog in moments when you're calm & relaxed
“Our dogs are our mirrors,” says Carleen, “so make sure you check in with yourself and the emotional state you are in when your dog appears to be out of character.”
Carleen recommends that you “Get yourself a sound bath soundtrack going on Spotify, and grab some candles to zen yourself out." This
eucalyptus and orange-scented candle will help you remember to slow down and take a deep breath (even when there’s pee all over your brand-new carpet). It's made of a natural soy wax that fills your space with the delicious scent of your choice, whether you prefer citrus, florals, or something else entirely, and its wooden wick will burn for up to 35 hours, so you know you're getting lots of bang for your buck. 15 Taking a moment to slow down & rest when you’re feeling frustrated
On that note, it’s important to make sure you have the right bath accessories while you destress and take a training break. This
luxurious bath pillow can help you unwind physically and mentally after a long day, and it makes a cost-effective alternative to pricey treatments at the spa. Just attach it to your bathtub with its six-strong suction cups, and its ergonomic design will do the rest.
Once you’ve dried off, “Try training and engaging after an attitude adjustment and see your results improve instantly,” recommends Carleen.
16 Finding ways to soothe triggers for your dog
Beth Mullen, owner and founder of
Dog Latin, knows the importance of soothing pups who might be a little stressed. She recommends a snuffle mat like this one to keep their attention away from scary environmental triggers like scooters, trucks, and other dogs. This one is made of a waterproof silicone material you can wash anytime you need, and its convenient suction cups keep it securely in place while your dog digs for buried treasure.
“I use them to teach the ‘Find it!’ game, which results in a dog lowering his head and searching for snacks,” says Mullen. “This is especially useful for dogs who are concerned with triggers in the environment like other dogs, loud trucks, scooters, etc.”
17 Keeping treats on hand to promote chewing instead of barking
turkey tendon dog treats will give your pup something more productive to do with their mouth than bark at the wall in the wee hours of the morning. Says Mullen, "I use these with 'reactive' dogs when I need to keep their mouths occupied — chewing rather than barking —especially around other dogs.” Dogs will love their delicious turkey flavor, and you'll love their ingredient list, which is free of antibiotics, hormones, and preservatives.
They’re also an excellent training tool that can help pups associate triggers with positive reinforcement. “The key is that the dog perceives the trigger first, then the turkey tendon (or other yummy snack) appears,” says Mullen.
18 Streamlining bath time for ease & safety while you scrub
Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert with
Rover, knows that bath time can be precarious for pups and owners alike. Investing in a nonslip shower mat like this one certainly doesn’t hurt, since it’ll “[...] make the bath less slippery and more stable for your pet during bath time,” keeping your pet safe while you scrub and shampoo to your heart’s content.
This particular mat recommended by Ellis is unique in that it's designed with drain holes and a hollowed-out bottom, which prevents standing water from accumulating in your tub and keeps it dry when it's not in use.
19 Investing in a licking mat to keep them occupied in the tub
“Adding a licking mat with suction cups onto the side of the tub with some peanut butter or yogurt smeared on it can keep your pet occupied and happy during bath time,” advises Ellis, especially when your dog is decidedly uncomfortable with bathing and grooming. These particular
licking mats are designed with super strong suction cups that will stay securely in place on tub and shower walls alike; each mat features a double-sided design, which gives your pet a little extra variety while they snack on their favorite treats.
Not only can they help reduce stress during anxiety-inducing processes like nail clipping, injury recovery, and visits to the vet, but they're dishwasher and freezer-safe for easy maintenance and storage.
20 Using props to help your dog learn
"Give them a platform near the door, practice and reward them going on this platform, and work up to rewarding when people come over,” recommends Ellis. How does this help your pup? “We are training them not to bolt out the door when opened and not to jump on people,” Ellis explains.
safe and sturdy platform is well equipped for pups of all shapes and sizes with a nonskid rubber surface and a reinforced webbed structure to keep it securely in place. Pro tip: if you have multiple dogs, buy a platform for each of them, and you can stack one on top of the other for convenient storage. 21 Carrying your essentials everywhere you go together
Whether you and your pup are on the go or just hanging out at home, you’ll want to have your training tools on you at all times in case a learning opportunity comes up. Tommy Wilde, dog trainer, breeder, and owner of
Floofmania, advises that you “Get a vest for the outdoors with plenty of pockets like this one. When you're out training your dog, you need to be mobile all the while you're also carrying some essentials with you.”
breathable fishing vest is equipped with 16 pockets of various shapes and sizes to hold as many clickers, toys, and treats as you can carry at once, keeping your hands free for pats on the head and games of fetch. It's made of a lightweight mesh fabric that allows air to circulate for your comfort, and it's waterproof, making it a great choice for morning walks when the weather is a little damp. 22 Make sure your dog is always hydrated
"Whenever you're out training your dog, it's a good idea to always have some water at hand,” advises Wilde. “If it's warm out, your dog will eventually need to cool down, and after a training session, your furry friend will definitely need hydration.”
portable dog water bottle is a perfect accessory to keep your pup hydrated. Its large trough lets dogs of all sizes drink water anytime, anywhere, and all you need to do is press the button to release the perfect amount of water each time. When your pup is finished drinking, you can simply set the button to the "lock" position and toss it in your bag without worrying about leaks or spills. 23 Having the right tools when introducing dogs to strangers
“One issue that's close to home for many dog owners (and something I struggle with for my own dog) is helping our pups handle visitors without sounding the 'stranger danger' alarm,” says Meg Marrs, dog trainer, animal shelter volunteer, and owner of
K9 of Mine. “I've personally found that using frozen goodies like the West Paw Toppl treat toy is a simple, easy, and positive-based solution that even newbie dog owners can manage without trouble.”
Marrs recommends filling it up with your pup’s favorite food and popping it into the freezer for a canine-approved treat that will help keep them calm when they come across someone they’ve never met before. You can choose between three bright colors, each of which will keep your dog stimulated and entertained for hours to come.
24 Keeping simple management strategies in place for consistency
"Limiting a new dog's access to only certain parts of the home prevents the opportunity for undesired behaviors,” shares Kait Hembree, VTS (Behavior), CVT, KPA CTP, and head of training at
GoodPup. Not only does this keep your pup from becoming overwhelmed in a brand-new location, but it “[...] results in them spending more time in their new guardians' presence helping to build their bond from the start.”
pressure-mounted safety gate, you can keep your dog in a specific area with the utmost ease; when you'd like to let them out, simply open it up with just one hand, and they'll be ready to start exploring. Plus, its ingeniously designed door closes automatically with a magnetic latch, so all you have to do is walk through. 25 Investing in a safety gate to puppy-proof your home
retractable gate is another fantastic choice, especially considering its soft mesh material, which is gentle on pets, even if they try to break through. It's equipped with a knob at the top that makes it super easy to open and close, and it's incredibly easy to install, especially considering that it comes with all the tools you need to lock it securely in place. The best part? When you're not using it, you can simply roll it up to save space; just stash it in a closet or a drawer and let your pup run wild and free.