Training Equipment And Techniques


pet training collarThe “training collar” or “correction collar” is a chain or woven nylon choke collar. Drop the chain through one of the rings to form a loop that is applied to the pet in a manner to allow the ring portion of the collar attached to the leash to pass over, not under, the pets’ neck. We here at SAFARI recommend a nylon collar for the small dogs. The properly fitted collar should pull about two inches before it tightens on a dog’s neck. The drawing assumes the pet is facing away from you and the leash attaches to the ring on the right side of the page and will be held in the left hand of the trainer.

Halti Collar (Gentle Leader)

halti collar for dogs (gentle leader)This is a collar that fits over the dog’s nose much like a halter fits over a horse’s nose. It gives more mechanical advantage to the trainer, allowing a softer touch to affect the pet. The Halti has been used as a training collar effectively for several years, and there are many proponents for its use as opposed to the training collar above. Because it fits high on the nose, most pets resent its presence. Therefore, the pet must first be trained to wear the collar without resisting its presence.


The leash is the line of communication between dog and trainer allowing the trainer to give immediate reprimand for inappropriate actions by the pet. The leash should be leather, cotton, or nylon and sturdy. Never skimp on equipment cost. The price you pay for quality is worth it. Chain leashes are not recommended in training as the pet may bite the chain damaging the teeth and mouth, especially if the chain is jerked while the leash is in the pet’s mouth.

The pet is usually led on the left side of the trainer and the trainer always turns to the right to avoid turning into the pet and causing confusion.



The exactness demanded through obedience is necessary to gain the pet’s respect. Most behavior problems are related to the effectiveness of the communication between the owner and dog. You can establish effective communication by following the Five C’s:

Be Certain. Know what you want the dog to do as well as what you don’t want him to do. Don’t confuse him by changing the rules about what’s acceptable or by allowing particular kinds of behavior at certain times or only with some people; letting the dog jump on you but not on your guests, for example. A dog is not capable of understanding the distinction. Never give a dog a command that you cannot follow through with.

Be Confident. You must believe that the training technique that you are using is effective and that you have the ability to use it effectively. You must not be intimidated by your pet or by the technique that you use. Your confidence in your training will assure the pet that you know what you are doing. If you catch your pet in the act of misbehaving, shout “NO!” then attach the leash to his collar and give a jerk and say “NO!”. The jerk needs to be effective to communicate the message. This is called a correction. Corrections can and should match the situation. A correction is not always necessary to communicate to the pet. Then test your pet in the proper manner and reward him lavishly in a manner that is twice the reprimand issued. Remember that you train with praise.

Be Consistent. Always correct your dog in the same manner. Consistency and repetition will help him learn which actions you will tolerate and which you won’t. Consistency in praise, technique, commands and what constitutes a successful completion is important. This involves much practice on the trainer’s part to make this discipline process a reflex and natural so that the pet expects the reprimand when wrongdoing occurs and praise as a foregone conclusion when the pet performs correctly.

dog training principles
Be Calm. Patience is a prerequisite in dog training. Never scream at your pet or hit him. Never drag him to the scene of the crime and “rub his nose in it”. This may damage his personality and make him fear you. Also, be sure to say the dog’s name only in a pleasant voice and under good circumstances. Otherwise he may learn to associate his name with reprimands and might be afraid to come when called. Never get into too much of a hurry, be calm and deliberate in your manner of reprimand.

Be Concerned. Love must be communicated to your pet whether you are training him or not. You may inadvertently encourage your dog’s bad habits if you give him your attention only when he misbehaves. Some pets, like some children, prefer negative attention to none at all. Spend at least 15 minutes each day playing with your dog.

Earned Praise

Praise is the most important motivation for a dog to perform a task for its human companion. Dogs have evolved with a need to serve humans and this service is what they live for. Praise is the way that we communicate “a job well done” to the pet. Without proper and effective praise, the training efforts will be wasted. Praise can be given verbally or physically and both are important to the dog trainer. Verbal and physical praise should be done before each training session to gain the pet’s confidence that this will be an enjoyable experience. This first praise should be done in a manner to relax and soothe the pet slowly and lovingly with soft tones and slow smooth petting motions embracing the entire dogs’ body and lasting for at least a few minutes.

Verbal praise is given IMMEDIATELY after the pet performs correctly or IMMEDIATELY after the pet is successfully tested in a task. The tone of the praise should be high pitched and given in baby talk such as: “gooood boy, dat’s a gooood dog, good dog”. Verbal praise is also given to let the dog know that he has completed a task or command and is used as punctuation between tasks or between different phases of the same task as positive reinforcement and encouragement.

Examples include: When starting from a stopped position, the command “let’s go” is given and the trainer starts to walk as the dog follows, the verbal praise “good dog” is given to let the dog know that he has behaved properly. As a curb is approached “do you want to go?” is given to let the pet know that a barrier that is not to be crossed is approaching. If the pet stops at the curb, the pet is praised immediately by saying “good boy, dat’s a good boy”, and petting the pet. In this same example, if the trainer were to step into the road and the pet appropriately stop at the curb and resist the temptation to follow the owner, then the pet is praised again. The task may be made harder by pulling on the leash to tempt the pet or by saying the pet’s name. If the pet performs properly, immediate praise is given again and is always given to reward increasing levels of training.

You may want to pair an audible click with praise in an effort to use the click as praise. First, you pair a treat that your dog really likes with a particular sound, either the sound of a clicker or a word that can be said quickly like yes or good. The object is for the dog to learn that the sound means food is coming. Once the dog knows that the sound is a good thing, you can use it reinforce other behaviors. The sound allows you to give positive feedback exactly when the dog is doing the behavior that you want.

If a complete task is performed without reprimand being issued during a stage of the task then this “successful completion” is rewarded with prolonged praise. This praise involves whole body physical contact in conjunction with verbal praise that is in amount equal to twice the reprimand issued during the entire training session.

It must be emphasized that it is the praise that trains the dog and the praise must be given appropriately to be effective. Praise given in great excess of the reprimand issued may train the dog that he can “live through” a reprimand to receive the excessive praise. Praise given after a reprimand but prior to a test that allows the pet to earn the praise may confuse the pet and be ineffective. You must always give the pet the chance to earn the praise issued.


In training a pet you should never act as if to punish a pet. Never get mad and never hit a pet. Regardless whether the hit is a thump on the nose, a hard pat on the rump, a slap in the face, a pinch of the skin, or a punch in the teeth, they all cause the same reaction in your pet. This reaction is one of fear, distrust, anxiety, and hate. This may lead to either aggressive or extreme submissive behavior. There is no beneficial communication with the creation of fear through violence.

The correct form of negative communication is a reprimand or correction. The reprimand (correction) may start as a verbal “NO!”, followed with a physical jerk on the leash with a “NO!”. The leash becomes your line of communication with your pet. The pet respects the reprimand and also learns to expect the forthcoming praise that will be given in an amount equal to twice the reprimand issued.

You teach your pet respect for the word “NO!”, and never a “NO!” without a correction (jerk) on the leash. Many pet owners have used the word “NO” but never taught the pet respect for it and the word becomes ineffective. Consistency with this rule must become automatic and reflexive to become an effective trainer.

The leash correction must be effective so as to result in a strong negative sensation by the pet. This is a sensation or feeling – not pain! The effectiveness depends on the nature of the pet, the nature of the unacceptable behavior and the situation. Some guidelines are as follows:
First, it is important to have the equipment ready for an effective correction as described above. Second, it is important to be conscious of the position of the collar and leash at all times so that an effective correction can be given quickly so as to be associated very closely with the action by pet. Third, it is important to jerk or snap – not pull the leash. An effective correction can only be delivered with slack in the leash that is then popped out to snap the training collar.
If the pet is in training and trying to learn but making mistakes, jerk only hard enough to get his attention so that the leash and collar act as a line of communication. You should never correct hard enough to move the pet from position or cause the pet to cry out. If you find yourself unable to get the attention then change to a Halti Collar.

If the pet knows how to do a task but is not paying attention, then a sharp jerk that may slightly move the pet’s head is appropriate.

For aggression, biting, growling or aggressive posturing, correct hard enough to make the pet react five times. You must realize, this is the exception and that a dog is threatening its own life by demonstrating aggression. There are many other ways to combat this behavior and more extensive materials need to be sought.

For continued aggression, correct until aggression stops. A hard correction may be needed now that may make the pet move or cry out.

Stop the correction and immediately test the pet to allow a chance for proper behavior.

Proper Praise

Twice as much proper praise must be given as reprimand issued. It should be given in:

  • Proper Tone
  • Slow Voice
  • With Hands and Voice
  • Must be given immediately

The pet must associate behavior with praise therefore praise must be used in conjunction with the “Test” so that the test is ongoing. Test with one hand while praising with the other. Equipment should be ready to reprimand if test is failed. Excessive praise after minimal reprimand may cause a pet to perform poorly, or survive reprimand to get the praise. Therefore, too much praise is possible.

Successful Completion

SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION is when the pet is put through a task and successfully completes that task without any reprimand. Training must continue until a successful completion is achieved.


Commands may be given verbally or non-verbally. Usually a command is given in a stern but neutral tone and should be associated with a physical sign. For example the command to stop barking might be : ” who is it?” associated with your finger over your mouth in the “sush” sign.

Tones of Voice

The different tones of voice that you use relay to your pet the emotional state that you are in. Pets respond better to tones, than to specific words. Using deep tones usually indicates authority or disapproval. High pitched tones usually indicate praise and happiness. You must however understand that each emotion has a tone associated with it. The pet understands the nature of the tones without necessarily understanding the words. Your pet knows when you are mad, disgusted, sad, happy, jealous, puzzled, or in need of love by the tone of your voice. This is obvious when you discover a mess made by the pet and in your verbal tone you cause them to slink as if they were guilty. It is not that they are guilty, it is just that they think you are about to reprimand them for the mess.

Body Language

Dogs communicate to other dogs with the unspoken words of body language. Dogs are masters of this form of communication. You display body language every time you are in their presence. They can read this language even better than they can read your tones of voice. You should use this fact to communicate a hand signal or other sign to them with every oral command.

Respect For the Word “NO”

Never a correction without the word “NO” and never a “NO” without a correction. The word “correction” indicates some form of negative communication that is physical. This is easily applied with a training or Halti collar, but can also be applied by placing your hand on their muzzle or neck in a dominant manner. Do not use this to hurt but to touch while verbally communicating.

Praise Rules

  • Never praise a pet until the pet is given the opportunity to earn that praise through a test.
  • Always give twice the amount of praise as the reprimand issued.
  • If you get too silly with your praise, then a pet will learn to live through any reprimand to get to the praise.
  • The praise should be equal to the difficulty of the task and not excessive.