This page outlines each piece of commonly used training equipment and it's purpose.
You have access to step by step training exercises with written instructions and videos throughout our online training resources. But I highly recommend purchasing the book that includes the training that forms the foundation of our work, "The Koehler Method of Dog Training". We don't do everything exactly as the book says, but the book fills in a lot of details for the committed dog owner. It provides the "why" behind the "what" that is taught in our classes and private lessons.
The method works, more or less, for every dog. While other training methods require certain kinds of dogs with certain motivations, this method works for all dogs. We'll adjust for individual differences in each dog, but the general process is the same overall.
The book is out of print, but often available for purchased used. Additionally, an industrious person can find pdf versions of the book online for free. That said, the easiest way to get the book is through Amazon as a Kindle E-book. At a price of just $3.00 there is really no excuse not to have it.
Your crate is a confinement tool that restricts your dog's ability to engage in undesirable behavior. Your dog should ideally be crated any time you are not able to directly supervise them.
When you are able to supervise your dog but need both hands free, and as an intermediate step in allowing our dogs to earn more freedom, we utilize a short tether. The tether is also helpful when working with dogs in situations where they may behave aggressively, as well as to teach concepts to your dog that might otherwise require two people (like not jumping when a person approaches).
VIDEO - Tethering
6 foot leather leash
The 6 foot leather leash is used for most of the foundational obedience work. We use leather leashes because they grip better and are more forgiving on your hands than a fabric leash. Brass or bronze hardware is important because the soft metal will deform rather than crack or sheer, and because it is rust proof. You can inspect such hardware regularly and tell whether failure is likely instead of having your equipment break when you need it most. You can clean and condition your leather leash with Saddle Soap (available at Wal-Mart or Target).
VIDEO - 6 foot leash handling
15 Foot Long Line
Your 15 foot long line will be used to teach foundational attention exercises and when adding distance to behaviors like stays and recalls. It is also helpful as a drag line when transitioning to off leash work.
VIDEO - Long Line Handling
We utilize a few different training collars depending on what works best for the handler and the dog. Your training collar work through it's dynamic action. Each of the collars we use tighten when pressure is applied with the leash and loosen when that pressure is relaxed.
Chain Slip Collar
If you use a chain slip collar, the links should be 3mm thick (typically referred to as "medium") and the collar should be just big enough to slide over the dogs head without having to push hard to get it on. Only use a smaller link thickness if they do not sell the length you need in 3mm. Herm Sprenger is the only brand we recommend.
If you use a prong collar, the links should be 2.5mm thick (typically referred to as "medium") and the collar should be just big enough fit snugly at the top of the dog's neck just behind the ears and jaw. Only use a thicker linked collar if your dog is over 80lbs, and even then we most often recommend the medium since you will have a chain collar backup. Always use a backup collar when using a prong collar.
While the remote collar has its own separate category, it's important to understand that it functions essentially the same way as any other collar. You apply pressure in the form of stimulation using the remote, and stop applying that pressure (release) when the dog does what we want.
Remote collars should be fitted in a similar manner to prong collars. Always use a secondary collar (chain collar or flat collar) to attach your leash. Never attach a leash to the remote collar.
The tab replaces leash and collar management once our dogs are generally well behaved in the house. Once installed, it should be on the dog's training collar any time they are not in the crate or on tether, including during training sessions. You must supervise your dog while they have the tab on. If they chew it up, that is a pretty clear indicator that they were not being adequately supervised. The tab also serves other purposes when we begin to move to off leash work.
We use 1/4 - 3/8 inch braided nylon or poly rope to make the tab. It should be long enough to grab comfortably, but not long enough that your dog is able to get a foot caught in it while walking. The actual length will vary based on your dog's size.
Toys and playtime give your dog an appropriate outlet for using their mouth, which is natural for dogs. We use toys and play to help teach our dogs impulse control and the following commands: Out and Leave It. They also assist in resource guarding prevention. In our opinion, there are only two kinds of toys: interactive and pacifiers. Each has a specific role. We generally do not attempt to use toys in training until we have built a solid foundation using food and leash/collar pressure.
Pacifiers are toys that your dog gets to enjoy in solitude in the crate (or on “kennel” once that behavior is solid). They are things like nylabones, raw bones, and kongs. These are toys that your dog can use to entertain themselves when you cannot or do not want to interact with them directly. Pacifier toys should be large enough that the dog cannot close their mouth around them. So even for smaller dogs we use larger sized items. Pacifiers should be removed from the crate or the room if you are not within a distance where you can hear or see a potential choking hazard.
Interactive toys are those that are made out of man-made materials that are similar to all the things you don't want your dog chewing on in your house. Toys made of fabric, and leather, like tugs for instance. These toys are used to play with your dog in a structured fashion. They can be used as rewards in training, or just for fun. The most important things is that you present these to your dog, you control when the play starts and stops, and you put the toy away when the play is over. This way, your dog does not confuse when he or she is allowed to take similar objects in their mouth. Following these simple rules, especially for young dogs, can prevent many socks, underwear, and shoes from getting chewed up.
The throw chain is used as a negative reinforcer during recalls and heeling as we transition to off leash reliability.
You need the number of links listed below (based on your dog's weight) in 2/0 twisted machine link chain:
up to 10lbs: 6 links
up to 30lbs: 12 links
up to 50lbs: 18 links
60lbs and up: 24 links
You will also need 2 1-1/8 (that's one and one eighths) inch S hooks.
Fold your chain in half and place one S hook through the ends of the chain. Crimp down with pliers. Then do the same thing in the middle of the chain. The end result looks like an 8.
You should really have at least 3 of them.