There are a vast abundance of dog training gadgets out there in the pet industry, which will have you investing lots and lots of your hard earned cash with an expectation that with these gadgets you will see the changes that you wish for. A few that spring to my mind include Kong toys, haltis, choke collars, spray collars, shock collars, water sprays, clickers and the like. I’ve also seen a gadget that opens a bowl of dog food at a set time, so you can give your dog its dinner without having to be there. I can undersand how these gadgets have developed… as a species humans have always been innovators and we are often looking for ways to make things quicker and easier. Those with entrepreneurial spirit will also see an invention of this kind as a way of creating a new business for themselves. I applaud entreprenial spirit and a desire to make things quicker and easy, but unfortunately as an aid to dog training, gadgets complicate things.
To understand how they do this, we need to view gadgets from the dogs perspective. If you feel the need to use a gadget on your dog then I am pretty certain that you dog thinks it is in charge and is doing whatever behaviour you wish to stop as a way of trying to look after you. See previous blogs for more information on understanding your dog. So with this in mind, the dog which is trying its hardest to look after you, is being either hindered or confused by the gadget that you are using to train it. So many clients I have been to see have unfortunately wasted so much money already on unnecessary gadgets. To look at a couple of examples:
A Halti is designed to discourage a dog from leading the way. It does this by causing discomfort around the dog’s face when it pulls. Yes it may pull less, but the dog’s mindset is still that they ought to be the leader of the walk, so it will put itself through as much discomfort as it can whilst continuing to lead the way. A dog which does not think it is in charge has no desire to pull, therefore no halti is required.
A Kong type toy is designed to occupy a dog while it’s owners are out. Dogs which are perceived as needing occupying are usually being a little destructive when left alone. This destructive behaviour is due to the separation anxiety the dog is experience, thinking it is meant to be looking after its owners who have gone out. Leave it with a kong (or with a bowl that presents it with food suddenly) and you are also leaving it in charge of the food, which is the job of the leader – very confusing!
Thing of a dog training device and I will be able to explain how it doesn’t help! In fact there are only 2 things I ever recommend my clients buying, one is a copy of The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell, and the other is a long lead, for recall training. Remember: Keep It Simple – think from the dog’s perspective, do it naturally, the best form of control is self control. I am more than happy to answer any questions on this, or take comments from anyone who has tried gadgets in the past…