Dog training can be a seasonal business, often starting around mid-February due to dog owners enrolling puppies that joined their family during the winter holiday season. Pet retailers who understand this can respond by having the equipment dog trainers recommend—and owners will come looking for—at their stores. Retailers who are knowledgeable about the proper usage of the equipment they sell will stand out by their ability to assist customers in making proper selections. This helps build consumer loyalty, a priceless commodity in today’s competitive retail environment. Let’s look at some of the most common training equipment for dogs:
Leashes. Almost all trainers suggest their students have a six-foot leather or nylon leash. This length allows owners to retain some control of their dogs from a decent distance. Leather or nylon is often a personal choice on the part of the owners. Leather is more expensive and can be a bit easier on a person’s hands than rougher nylon leashes. Leather also doesn’t fray the way nylon will over time. If you live in a wet climate, consider nylon over leather as it tends to hold up better and require less care. Reflective tape can be used to wrap around parts of a leash thus making them more visible at night. Clients can also purchase reflective leashes as long as they are the correct size. Avoid chain leashes; dog trainers won’t recommend them.
The thickness of the leash and the clip should correspond to the size of the dog being trained. Sturdy metal clips properly attached to the leash are a must. Remind clients that a high-quality leash can last for many years, perhaps even the lifetime of their dog.
Head Halters. These devices allow an owner to control the dog from their head as opposed to their neck. Anyone who has ridden or trained with horses recognizes this principle. The advantage of these devices are they require less physical strength to use and are less risky to the dog. Disadvantages are owners have to learn how to put them on, the dogs have to acclimate to them and they must be properly fitted to prevent the dog from slipping out of them and escaping. The good news is that these products are often quite easy to fit, and dogs can learn to wear them with very little effort. Make sure that your staff understands how to properly size and fit the head harnesses you sell. Suggest that owners put them on their pets and wear them for five minutes a day while they feed them special treats. After a week or so of that, most dogs will be eager to wear the head halter.
Slip Collars. For many years, the most common training collar used was a metal slip collar, more commonly known as a choke chain. While this type of collar has fallen out of favor with many dog trainers, they are still used by some. The key to choke chains is the fit and understanding the precautions. When the chain is placed over the dog’s neck and gently tightened, no more than two inches should extend beyond the ring. Anything more and the chain is too large, and anything less is too small. Chokers that are too large run the risk of slipping off during training. Those too tight are uncomfortable for many dogs and lessen the efficacy of the device.
Two other things to know: First, remind the owners to never leave their dog on a choke chain unattended. A choke chain is a metal noose and potentially dangerous. The second thing is that these collars should never be used with young puppies.
Flat Collars. These are either flat or rolled. Flat is often better because it is less likely to slip off the dog. When training with a flat collar, the fit is important. It needs to be snug enough to not come off the dog when taking them for a walk but not so tight as to be uncomfortable. While leather collars are more expensive, both leather and nylon versions can last for many years. Every dog should have a flat collar for general wear, and the versatility of a flat collar also makes it useful for training.