Equipment used in dog training

Flat collar

A flat collar is useful for identification or holding the registration tags. Apart from that, it should be like a safety belt – there if you need it but not an active part of the training. Teaching a dog to be comfortable to be held by the collar is a useful skill however as it is better to be able to restrain the dog if required in a high-stress situation without adding stress if it is not comfortable to be held by its collar.

Check/choke chain, electronic collar, prong collar

These all rely on applying aversives to the dog to get them to stop pulling or from running away. They must at some level be painful or at best uncomfortable or they would have no effect. The argument for them is that they quickly change behaviour and therefore do not need to be used as a punisher when learnt. Then this may be kinder than nagging them on a flat collar or years of missed walks due to poor walking behaviour. The argument against them is the same behaviour can be gained by positive methods and so ethically should be done this way. Even taking the ethics out of it there are studies to suggest positive methods are more effective and will harm the dog-person relationship. A lot of highly emotive arguments happen between these two camps (see training styles). Our club does not allow any of these collars in our training.


There are a number of types of harnesses. There are front or back attachments (or both), Y shaped or H shaped, heavier padded harnesses or light tape harnesses, fixed straps or tightening ones, ones designed for car restraint rather than walking. For walking a harness with both back and front attachments is useful and can be used at the same time using a double ended clip leash. The front attachment points make it more uncomfortable to pull without the dog pulling themselves sideways but still needs a patient approach to not allowing forward movement while pulling or the dog will often start to pull anyway.

Head collars

Such as the Halti or Gentle Leader brands. These work by controlling the head and the leverage at the muzzle is a lot harder to pull against so often can stop the pulling entirely. On the negative side the webbing on the muzzle can be irritating so it is important to work a slow process over a week or two to get the dog happy to accept wearing the head collar before attaching a lead to it – check out the internet for a process around this or the instructions that came with it.

Treat bags

A pouch on a belt or a belt clip makes holding the food rewards much more convenient and keeps them out of your hand. In your hand leads to focus on the hand more than the task and fumbling with a bag in your pocket delays the reward which lowers its effectiveness.


Used in marker/reward training a clicker can more clearly communicate the moment of the correct behaviour and that a reward is coming very soon. They can be bought cheaply on TradeMe and look for one that has an easy-to-use button. Often box style clickers can only be used one way around so a button style can be easier to use with less issues with holding it the wrong way around.