The 6 Essential Tools I Use When Training My Puppy

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Tools I Use For Clicker Training My Puppy
Tools I Use For Clicker Training My Puppy

I started clicker training Archer from day 1.

He’s the first puppy in training I’m exclusively using clicker training for teaching new behaviors.

Over the years we’ve used many different tools for training our puppies, but clicker training is a little different as it requires a few more pieces to the puzzle.  Fortunately, these pieces are still very easy to carry around during any puppy training exercise.

So, what are these 6 essential tools I use when training my puppy?

Check out the picture above and see if you can identify all 6 before moving on.

6 Essential Tools I Use When Training My Puppy

Okay, so maybe you couldn’t see all the tools in the first pic, but you could see 5 out of 6 and I bet you can guess #6…hint: check out the pic below ðŸ™‚

Maybe I should change the title to 6 Essential Tools I Use When “Clicker” Training My Puppy since this list is specific to clicker training.

That being said I bet you were able to guess number 1 on my list pretty easily…

#1 Clicker

There’s more than one type of clicker available, but we go simple and use the standard box clicker for training our puppies.

If you plan on clicker training your puppy then do some research and find a clicker you like. They even have quiet clickers just in case your puppy is noise sensitive.

UPDATE: Although any clicker works and some are louder/quieter than others our current favorite is this Starmark Clicker (by the way, we highly recommend getting a wristband with your clicker)

#2 Treats

There are thousands of treats available to use during training.

We feed our dogs Wellness and either use kibble as treats or Wellness Core Air Dried. We like the Wellness Core Air Dried for several reasons.

A few traits we really like about Wellness Core Air Dried for clicker training are:#1.  treats are soft, #2. small, and #3 you get a lot rather than your normal tiny bag of treats.

Warning: If you use the Wellness Air Dry Ocean Formula they are stinky!  Which is great for motivating your puppy, but not so much for the fishy smell left on your hands.

#3 Treat Pouch

The hinge recently broke on our treat pouch after a few years of use.

Besides the durability we really liked our Premiere (now PetSafe) TreatPouch.

The hinge would keep the pouch open for easy access to treats or closed when not in use.

UPDATE: the plastic clip broke off the back…now it’s really time for a new treat pouch.

I’m going to do a little research and you’ll probably see a blog post on dog treat bags really soon 🙂

This is the updated version of the treat pouch we’ve been using for the last few years.

We checked it out at our local PetSmart and it appears to be pretty much the same pouch we have at home.

Another Essential Tool For Clicker Training Your Puppy
Another Essential Tool For Clicker Training Your Puppy

#4 Leather Leash

Sorry folks, but we don’t have a link to a recommended leash for training your puppy.

Our leather leash is 10 years old, warn in, and soft as can be.

We love the leather leashes over the nylon as they are much softer on your hands.  If you can find a good leather leash let me know in the comment section below.

UPDATE: Guide Dogs for the Blind has the exact adjustable leather training leash we love and use with all of our puppies in training.

#5 Martingale Collar

We recently changed to a Martingale Collar based on suggestions from trainers at Canine Support Teams and Wags and Wiggles.

We heard these were originally designed for Greyhounds (heads the same size as their necks) so their head wouldn’t slip out.

After an incident we had with Linus slipping his flat collar to chase a coyote across the golf course 🙁 we’ve found the martingale to be a good choice when out and about as it will tighten, but not choke your dog (make sure and have it adjusted properly).

#6 Easy Walk Harness – We really like the Easy Walk Harness used in conjunction with our Martingale Collar.

While it doesn’t totally deter pulling it does help by turning your dog slightly when he tries to pull forward.

If you look at our pictures we like to attach our leash to the martingale collar and easy walk harness simultaneously.

We’ve found this to be the best setup when working with Archer.

So what do you guys think?  That’s not everything we use when clicker training our puppies, but I would consider these the “Essential Tools”.

However, if you look closely at the pictures you might see another tool we use with our puppies (not really a training tool).

Did you guys catch the other tool in the pics?  What are your essential tools when training your puppy.

Tell us about your experiences training your puppy in the comment section below.

Tools I Use When Training My Pupppy
Tools I Use When Training My Puppy

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27 Comments

  1. Oooh yes, I absolutely love my leather leashes and my clip-on treat pouch. I’ve heard good things about the ones with the magnetic closure, so I might actually look into upgrading to one of those. The one I currently have needs to be drawn shut with a string.

    1. I love my leather leash! And they get better with age. I have a treat pouch with a draw string and the PetSafe one in the picture. Let me know how you like the treat pouch with the magnetic closure. I’m always looking for better products to help with the puppy training.

  2. Oh, and he has never growled or barked at anyone before, and he as been to different stores, parking lots, and the mall twice.

    1. Thank you for training service dog puppies! If you haven’t seen that behavior before I would guess that it could have been stress related. I would have done the same as you. Anytime I take my puppy out with me I’m always prepared to leave just in case the situation is to stressful for my puppy. Good luck with your puppy in training! Happy Holidays!

  3. Hi Colby, I am training a service dog pup for myself, I am working with a trainer twice a week as well. This is the 3rd pup i have trained, the first washed out at 18 months, 2nd is now retired. It has been nine years since I trained a pup. I would like to get your opinion/take on something that happened this weekend with my 8 month old pup. We
    were training, socializing, walking around an outside mall type center. There was a Christmas wagon with horses giving rides through the parking lot, this was a new experience of my pup. We sat on a bench and that is when he started to growl and bark at two different people that came past us. He was under control, except he was vocal. I corrected and redirected him. We felt maybe it was overload for him and headed back to the car, he didn’t bark or growl at anyone after that. I was wondering if you have had this happen with any of your pups in training and how you handled it. Thanks

  4. We are bringing home our Lab puppy in about 4 weeks so I am currently in “OHMYGAWD what am I getting myself into?” mode (It’s been 11 years since I’ve done the puppy thing)
    When it comes to collars do you recommend buying the size they are currently or then buy bigger as they grow?
    My other question is in regards to crate training…our bedroom is on the second floor so is that where we should always leave it??
    Tips for working puppy parents?? I am working half days the first week he is home but will be back to full schedule after that….any tips would be great!!!!
    SO so so many questions …thank you in advance

    1. Congratulations on your new puppy! Regarding the collar I recommend buying the the current size and then purchase a larger size as your puppy grows. Here’s an article we wrote on crate training: https://puppyintraining.com/crate-training-puppies/ I recommend putting the crate in your bedroom next to your bed. This is a rule I’ve carried over from training guide dog puppies. Here’s an article we wrote on working puppy parents: https://puppyintraining.com/what-do-you-do-with-your-puppy-when-you-work-full-time/ Hopefully that helps. Good luck with your training!

  5. I couldn’t agree more with a clicker & easy walk harness. Laika’s actually my first dog I’ve tried both with and it’s made a world of difference.

    I have to admit I haven’t gotten a treat pouch yet, even though I know it’s something I’d find invaluable once I started using it. Having a pocket full of carrots (or meat…) can get pretty messy, and gross if you forget a piece for a while.

    1. I didn’t use a treat pouch for the longest time until I started K9 Nosework (everyone in class had one). My problem with using the pockets is I’d always have crumbles of treats in my pocket and every once in a while I’d forget to empty my pockets of treats and put my shorts/pants through the wash with a pocket full of treats.

  6. Wow, I’m still stuck on the visual of Linus chasing a coyote across the golf course! That must have been scary and interesting at the same time.

    Thanks for sharing your list of training essentials. I probably should have tried using a harness when Haley was younger and pulling hard on the leash. I’m curious about attaching the harness and collar together at the same point. When Archer pulls, does the harness turn him slightly and the collar engages just a little bit too? I never thought about connecting both at the same time.

    1. Linus running across the golf course was very scary. It was at dusk so there weren’t many golfers out and he was pretty much out of sight in about 30 seconds. I was chasing, but gave up after running halfway across the first hole. As I walked back to my house Linus came trotting back with an ear to ear grin on his face.

      I originally had the leash attached only to the harness when Archer was a little pup, but as he squirmed a few times he slipped out. Step 2 was attaching the harness to Archer’s regular flat collar, but that was putting pressure on his neck when he pulled which seemed to make the harness less effective. Step 3 was attaching the harness to the martingale collar. I adjusted the martingale so when at it’s tightest it would still allow me to get two fingers underneath the collar (this makes the martingale fairly loose around Archer’s neck when not engaged). When Archer pulls and the easy walk harness adjusts the martingale does not add pressure to the neck and while it tightens a little bit it does not seem to interfere with the effectiveness of the harness.

      Hopefully that makes sense. Maybe a demo video is in order 🙂

        1. I’ll have to revisit this one and see about putting together a video. Let me know if there’s anything else you’re interested in seeing in a video.

  7. i did clicker training with my middle girl and it worked fine. dont know if she still remembers any of it today, being she is now 6.

    1. I bet she still remembers and would pick it up quickly. We saw my 3rd guide dog puppy who’s working in Arizona. He wasn’t even looking at me, but he heard my voice and immediately popped up for an enthusiastic greeting. He’s 6 now and hasn’t lived with us for 4 1/2 years, but he still remembers us 🙂

  8. I really want to try the Easy Walk harness with my dogs. I think they would do well on it and I’d certainly love it. Zoey is afraid of the clicker and once she started showing fear, Scout picked up on it too. So now I use words to mark good behavior.

    I’m excited that I’m able to use praise as a reward now. I was getting worried that Zoey would only listen if she was getting food.

    1. I really like the Easy Walk harness although it doesn’t work to well if you have an aggressive puller. When Stetson started Nosework training we used words (“Yes!”) to mark behavior. I’m not sure why they didn’t use a clicker in those classes. I’ll have to check with the trainers. If you’re interested you might try one of the quiet clickers with Zoey and Scout. They may have them at PetSmart to test out.

  9. Can patience be one of your “essential tools”?! It’s for sure one of mine when I have a new puppy. 🙂

  10. I am not normally a clicker trainer but I have a clicker and have used it with Remy. I also think I need to get a treat pouch. If you can believe it, I don’t have one. I put treats in my pockets. And finally, Remy could also use the no-pull harness! We’re using the Gentle Leader, which I like, but sometimes he pulls so hard with it that it rubs under his eyes.

    1. I will sometimes still have a pocket full of treats, but I try to always have the treat pouch when working with my puppy. I like the no-pull harness, but it doesn’t work as well if you have an aggressive puller. Every dog is different and depending on the dog I’d use a gentle leader or for a dog like Linus I’ve just used the flat collar even when he was a puppy.

      1. What size would you recommend for the Easy Walk harness for Remy? What size is Archer wearing? I guess I’m wondering how adjustable they are. Remy is currently just under 30 pounds, obviously he’ll grow to about 70+. He and Ace wear the same size Gentle Leader (medium) though because it’s so adjustable. Maybe I”ll just get a large harness and assume he’ll grow into it soon.

        1. I have 3 easy walk harnesses at home. Medium, Medium/Large, and Large. The Medium has thinner straps then the Medium/Large and the Large harnesses. Archer is about 55 pounds and he’s been wearing the M/L harness. The M still fits him, but I like the larger straps on the M/L. Here’s a chart of my dogs and what harness I think fits them best:

          Linus (50 pound Aussie Mix) – M/L
          Archer (55 pound Labrador Retriever) – M/L
          Raven (70 pound Golden Retriever) – L
          Stetson (80 pound Labrador Retriever) – L

          If Remy is going to be around 70 pounds then the large harness will probably work best when he’s full grown.

    2. Have you heard of/tried the Halti? It’s essentially the same concept as the Gentle Leader, except that the Halti is padded and a British brand, if I’m not mistaken. I started with Gentle Leaders for both pups, but then upgraded both to a Halti when I saw those in a pet store. No more rubbing (I had the same problem).

      1. I have a gentle leader and another similar product called a snoot loop, but I’ve never had the Halti brand. I don’t use the gentler leaders that often, but I do know that many of the guide and service dog schools use them with their puppies in training.

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