Dog training has its own language, and its own set of tools. When your trainer suggests that you get your dog a mat or a crate, or that you work with him on a longline, what is she talking about? Trainer Mikkel Becker is here to help: She has defined some of the most commonly used dog training tools recommended by trainers. With these handy devices, your dog will be well-mannered in no time.


Back clip harness: Harness on which the leash attachment is located over the dog’s back. This type of harness is typically comfortable and easy for a dog to adjust to, but it offers less control over the dog’s movements and can exacerbate pulling.


Cavity toys: See food puzzles.

Clicker: Tool used to mark or pinpoint a desired behavior with a clicking noise. There are a variety of clickers, from the standard box clicker, which makes a sudden, sharp noise, to more muted versions (like a ballpoint pen) for dogs that are more sensitive to sound.

Crate, kennel: Box-like shelter for a dog. Crates come in a variety of designs, including hard plastic, wire and soft-sided. Some crates are designed to fold up for easy storage.


Dog pen: Dog containment area created with fencing, such as exercise or X-pens or baby gates, in a play pen-like style. Dog pens can be used to prevent destructive behavior or to facilitate potty training. A dog run is an example of an outdoor dog pen.


Food puzzle: Toy designed to hold food or chews. The dog removes the food by using his teeth, tongue, paws and mouth to manipulate the toy. Food puzzles require the dog to work for his food, which provides needed mental and physical stimulation.

Front clip harness: This type of harness has a leash attachment at the center of a dog’s chest. This allows the pet owner to gently control the dog’s movements and can help hinder pulling.


Gate: Portable gate or fence that can be used as a barrier to keep a dog confined to a specific area or away from an off-limits space. These may be marketed as baby gates or dog gates.


Harness: Alternative to a collar. Like a collar, a harness has a hook for the dog’s leash, as well as a place to put his ID tags. Many trainers believe that a harness is gentler than a collar, especially for small dogs or brachycephalic dogs, who can have their airways more easily damaged by a collar.

Head halter: A walking tool. The head halter consists of two parts: a section that fits around the dog’s neck like a collar and an attached piece that fits over the dog’s nose and wraps around his muzzle. The leash attaches under the dog’s chin area.
Dog being walked on a leash


Leash: A fixed length of material with a clip at one end, which attaches to a collar or harness, and a handle at the other end for a person to hold. A fixed-length leash is one that does not expand or retract; commonly, a fixed-length leash is 4- to 6-feet long.

Lure: A stimulus that a dog will willingly follow. Treats are the most commonly used lure, but toys are another useful type of lure.

Long-lasting chews: These are chews that require extensive effort on the dog’s part to eat; they take a long time to consume. Dental chews, such as some of those with C.E.T. enzymes to help break down excess plaque, can fall into this category.

Longline: Leash available in a variety of lengths ranging from 8-feet long to upwards of 40-feet long. A longline allows the dog the freedom of being off leash while preventing him from running away, and can be used for training or play.


Mat: Similar in appearance to a cushion or blanket, a dog mat is a designated place to rest. Mat training teaches the dog to go to his mat when he is asked — for example, the dog can be taught to go to his mat, rather than begging at the table during a meal. A mat is portable and can offer a dog a familiar place to rest in unfamiliar surroundings, such as the vet’s office or a friend’s home.


Retractable leash: Leash with a handheld release that allows it to extend and retract with the movement of a dog. The leash can also be locked at a desired length. Though these are commonly used by pet owners, many pet professionals caution against their use, as they can be hazardous for both the pet owner and the dog.


Target stick: A long wand that can expand or retract as needed, with a ball on one end that the dog is trained to touch with a body part, commonly his mouth or nose. Some target sticks have a built-in clicker. A wooden spoon can be used in place of a target stick.

Tightening harness: Harness with a limited tightening feature, either on the back or the chest, where the leash clips on. The harness will tighten to a fixed degree if the dog pulls, and release when the leash is loose. This can offer the pet owner more control over pulling without causing sharp pain to the dog, as choke or prong collars can do.

Training pouch, treat pouch: Pouch that holds treats and clips to a belt, pocket or waistband, or has a fanny pack-style band that wraps around the waist. Larger training pouches can also hold other necessities, such as keys, a cellphone or waste bags.

Treat stations: Areas around the home where treats are stored to make rewarding good behavior easier. Treat stations provide an alternative to carrying treats all the time. Concealing the treat containers keeps the dog on his best behavior, as he does not know when or where he might be rewarded.