Buying Equipment and Supplies
Preparing for a new dog is similar to planning a baby’s layette. You need to accumulate certain supplies before bringing the new puppy or dog home.
Things You’ll Need
Collars, leash, and ID tag
Treats, Kongs, and other toys
Cleaning supplies for potty accidents
Choosing a Collar and Leash
You will need a basic cotton web, nylon, or leather rolled or flat collar with a buckle or snap-together clasp of the appropriate size for your dog. Collars come in half-inch lengths. If your dog has a lot of hair, the collar should fit under the coat and close to the skin. You should be able to slip one finger between the dog’s skin and collar for small dogs and about two fingers under the collar of larger dogs.
A nylon slip collar, which tightens around the dog’s neck, is effective for certain training exercises in which you really need to get your dog’s attention. Measure the neck and add three inches for proper length. The collar should be just long enough to fit over the dog’s head. To use this type of collar, give it a fast tighten and then just a quick release. If pressure on the neck is contraindicated (dogs with medical conditions affecting the neck), make do with the buckle collar or opt for a head collar or no-pull training harness.
For most situations, a four- or six-foot leather or cotton web leash is sufficient. The snap bolt should be the proper size for your dog. A toy dog dragging around a long leash with a heavy bolt is handicapped; conversely, you will be handicapped if you try to train a huge dog with a flimsy leash with a tiny snap bolt.
Even if your dog has permanent identity data such as a microchip or tattoo, attach an ID tag with your name, telephone number, and address to his collar when he travels outside your home.
Figure 3.3 shows some examples of these basic training supplies.
In Chapter 2, "What You Should Know About Training," we discussed using treats and praise or petting as positive reinforcement for encouraging your dog to perform an action. When you use food to persuade a beginner, reinforce the desired behavior each time it occurs. If you are training your puppy to sit on command, you must offer him a treat, such as a tidbit of weenie, and praise/petting each time he performs correctly. After he has mastered the trick, the food reward can be used intermittently and eventually phased out so that the puppy will perform for praise and petting alone.
Figure 3.3 You’ll need buckle (1) and training (2) collars, plus leash (3), and ID (4) tag.
When using food as a positive reinforcer, present the smallest amount that will encourage your dog to perform. If the pup is particularly fond of liver snaps, give him a morsel (not the entire cookie) for correct execution of a simple task. This allows for more reinforcements per training session before the dog becomes full. Animal trainer Karen Pryor says that the reward should be based on the difficulty of the task. If your puppy makes a major training breakthrough—he comes when called off leash for the first time—reward him with the jackpot of a whole cookie.
What You Should Know About Toys
Toys should be appropriate to your dog’s size, activity level, and chewing preferences. In general, provide your dog with a variety of toys and rotate them weekly by offering only a few of the playthings at a time. Observe toys carefully, removing and destroying any that have become unsafe (due to cracking, unraveling, losing stuffing, and so on).
Items you might consider for your dog’s toy box include
Interactive toys such as balls or Frisbees.
Objects for safe chewing and carrying around. These include hard, rubber toys such as Nylabone "bones" and Kong products available in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Distraction toys include the Kongs and "busy boxes" with hiding places for treats; your dog gets to the goodies by moving or nosing the toy with his paws or muzzle (see Figure 3.4).
Rope toys are available in various shapes with knotted ends and can provide a flossing action for teeth.
Comfort toys (stuffed toys, for example) might be appropriate for certain dogs.
Figure 3.4 Toys stuffed with food treats are great boredom relievers for your pet.
Selecting Cleaning Products for Training Accidents
Dogs can detect elimination odors imperceptible to us and, in many cases, are compelled to reapply urine or feces to the soiled area. In some cases, pet residues have been left by previously-owned pets, and in others the dog is reinforcing his own scent.
Regardless, it is important to neutralize and remove any trace odor of urine and feces so that the puppy or dog is not attracted back to urinate and defecate. After blotting with paper towels, apply a cleaning product containing natural enzymes to completely remove urine or fecal deposits.
Numerous enzymatic cleaners are available for purchase online or at stores. Urine-Off products are available at http://www.urine-off.com and Anti-Icky-Poo at http://www.mistermax.com or by calling (800) 745-1671.