Dog leash closeup

Investing in the right equipment can make it easier to train your dog. The following five must-have tools can help make training your dog a breeze.

1.  Treat pouch. A treat container makes it easier to access treats while keeping hold of the leash and clicker. Some treat pouches clip onto your belt or the leash, but the version I like is the Terry Ryan Training Pouch by Premier, which looks like a fanny pack and has an easy-open top that allows you to quickly grab a treat but prevents your hungry dog from helping himself to what's inside.

2.  Target stick. Whether you simply use a wooden spoon or invest in a fancy expandable target stick with a built-in clicker, a target stick is used to help guide your dog’s body and lead him into position without using physical force or putting a treat in front of his nose. Target sticks can be help teach behaviors ranging from heeling on a leash to loading up in the car.  

3. Long line leash. A long leash makes it easy to train your dog to do behaviors at a distance from you while still giving you the ability to control your dog should he try to run away. Long lines serve as a middle ground between training on a short leash and eventually allowing your dog off leash. Long lines are excellent tools for working on coming when called and long-distance stays.    

4. Crate. Every dog should be crate trained, even if the crate is not going to be used on a daily basis. Should your dog ever need care at the veterinarian, he should already be accustomed to the crate so that he doesn’t panic when confined. Crates also offer an easy way to travel with your pet; the crate helps to keep him safe on the road and minimize driving distractions. Your dog will learn to associate his crate with rewards and relaxation, and it will become a place to retreat to when he is feeling overwhelmed.

5. Carabiner. These clips enable you to train virtually hands free. Attach a carabiner to the handle of your leash; loop the leash around a small pole or tree and clip with the carabiner to allow the dog to be stationed at an area for training. In my dog training classes, I have eye bolts drilled into the walls; owners can easily clip their dog’s leash to the wall while they train. This keeps the dog from running over to greet other dogs in class, while at the same time allowing owners to focus on their clicker timing, rather than juggling the leash and the treats. If your dog is fairly calm, a carabiner can also be used to clip your leash to a waist treat pouch. Dogs should always remain supervised while using a carabiner and should have plenty of slack in their leash.    

There are of course many other items you can use but these will help get your training off to the right start.