Dog Training Tips (with Technology)

Dog Training Tips (with Technology)I love my dogs. Rocky and Apollo (obvious Rocky movie references) have been a part of our lives for some time, and despite their rambunctious attitudes and tendency to steal things from the coffee table, they’re a couple of lovable mutts I couldn’t imagine my life without.

Training them has been a challenge. We’re still struggling with backpedaling such as reversed potty training and the emergence of a few bad habits after my wife started her new job. It’s part of being a dog owner. You can’t just train a dog once and expect that it behaves exactly how you want for the rest of its days.

Being a technology-forward family, it’s only natural that we turned to gadgets to aid us in the act of training our canines. We’ve had a few successes, and quite a few failures. Some technology we’ll never try because it’s simply too cruel to use on a tiny (or any) dog. It’s easy to become confused (and broke) buying the wrong things for your dog. We’ve invested in almost a dozen different leashes and collars in hopes that our hard-headed (and unusually strong) dog would stop pulling at the leash in excitement as he heads out the door. Likewise, we’ve tried everything from training pads to fake grass to house-train our Italian greyhound / chihuahua mix, to no avail.

In reality, it comes down to what you do with the tools more than the tools themselves. You could spend a fortune on gizmos and still have a poorly trained dog.

Tools That Worked

We’ve had a lot of success using certain tools for training. I’m a fan of positive reinforcement, so any tool that accommodates this training method has been a worthwhile investment for me. Treat dispensers, clickers, and even soothing sprays to fight nervousness generally work fairly well if used properly.

A clicker, for example, is a simple piece of metal in a plastic box that makes a loud clicking sound when you press on it. This sound can be tied to receiving a treat in a relatively short period of time. All you really need to do is spend some time doing simple tricks with your dog and rewarding them when it does them properly. As you reward the dog, using the clicker makes that sound becomes associated with rewards. This translates to positive reinforcement while out and about.

Retractable Leashes
I love retractable leashes because they can be locked close to you for walking and released for play. This enables you to maintain control of your dog’s distance. I don’t use it for potty walks because our apartment complex is full of loose dogs off leash (though it’s not allowed) that do crazy things like pick fights. However, if you’re taking your dog to the park and want to allow them the freedom to roam around while you kick back, a good, long, retractable leash can be a great thing.

Scat Mat
Unlike electric collars, the scat mat sits on your floor or furniture and releases a very small zap when a dog passes it. Before leaving it alone, we always test the mat with our hands to make sure that it is working and non-painful. To a dog, it’s a quick reminder not to hop up on the couch or attempt to hop a gate. You can even place it in a doorway to train it that a room is off limits.

Tools That Didn’t Work

Apollo, our Italian greyhound mix, is a difficult dog to potty train. We rescued him around the age of five with no indication that anyone had trained him during his life. He was skittish around people and afraid to accept a treat when we got him. We attempted to use a few products to help facilitate paper training, which would later evolve into proper potty training. Unfortunately, these tools didn’t work very well.

Potty Patch
This As Seen on TV special was a big waste of time and effort for us. Not only is our dog scared of it, but the one time we did manage to get him to do his business there, he lifted his leg and sprayed the wall. It’s not that the concept itself is terrible; it’s the execution that didn’t work very well. We even purchased a pheromone spray with the idea in mind of making this fake grass a bit more appealing to him. Sadly, it never worked. To this day he will not walk into the room if he sees the potty patch.

Potty Training Pads
Made out of a diaper material, these little squares are supposed to attract your dog and encourage them to do their business on it. The downside is that dogs have poor aim and often hit the edge of it. The attractive scent did its job getting my dog there, but he rarely came anywhere close to hitting it.

Tools That We’ll Never Use

There are some tools out there that we’ll never use on our dogs. It isn’t because they don’t work, but because there are often much easier (and cheaper) methods of getting your dog to do what you want it to do. I much prefer the dominance-based training approach to using things like electronic shock collars and invisible fences to do the same.

Pinch Collars
These collars are usually used with big, muscular dogs such as pit bulls and rottweilers. The collar itself has a series of metal prongs that pinch the dog if it pulls too hard on the collar. The downside is that a shift in position can result in those prongs stabbing the dog in the neck. Just doing a Google image search of pinch collars can bring up photos of what happens when these collars are inappropriately used.

As with any training collar, it should never be used full-time. Choke collars are also potentially dangerous tools when used outside of a controlled training setting.

Electric Collars
Electric collars are often used to control aggressive or overly anxious dog activity. I’m not a fan of them because the shock (and the prongs) used on these are far more powerful than most people realize. Just zap yourself with one of these collars and you’ll see why. They hurt, and even a well-behaved dog has to deal with uncomfortable prongs sticking into its neck.

What about you? What gadgets or gizmos have you used with your dog(s) in training? Have you found something that really worked for you?

Photo: Amazon

24 comments On Dog Training Tips (with Technology)

  • I don’t have pets but we have pets in our extended family and just like Chris’s dog they get exited when they need to get out, same behaviour when they want food, they literally come n bite our shoes and take the person near the kitchen area where the dog food is stored, i agree with your point in “going broke” sometimes buying non-essential products and many products that u listed here like scat mat, pinch collar – yikes, but u said they are safe, still i would avoid buying them, but i would like retractable leash as in our area too we have many loose dogs.

    P.S. – Why cant all dogs be like Brian in Family Guy :D, JK

  • Shocking the dog seems mean and cruel so we don’t like the scat mat or the electric collars. We also have a potty patch and the only time our dog goes on it is because he thinks it’s a carpet.. or to try to eat the fake grass. He’s also never used a potty training pad, the little bichon likes to tear it into thousands of pieces.

    We found the best way to train him was to treat train. When we pottied train him, we’d give him a treat when he went in the grass as well as when we were teaching him tricks. We discouraged bad behaviour with a spray bottle and some water. Our dog hates getting wet. It’s the non technological things that worked in my case!

  • Cheers for the list! Just got a pup and the advice will be useful!

  • What I need to get my dog is a retractable leash. For walks, I think it would be good, because it will give him more freedom to go potty in the grass when we go for walks. My dog is well potty trained, so mats are not needed for me.
    The thought of using a shock collar is sick. I wouldn’t ever use one on a dog. My dog uses a harness that goes around him. After trying out a lot of collars, and other harnesses we found that this works the best for my dog.

  • If I had a dog, this would be great. It is good to see technology is helping out in day to day life more and more as it advances!

  • I would never lat my dog use a, Potty Patch or Training pad, if you are gonna train a dog you need to train it correctly, my family black lab had a shock collar and a pinch collar. Its not that these tools are bad. people say it makes dogs scared of you. Thats because you don’t know how to use tools such as this properly, and responsibly. As i said our dog had theses devices used and she is one of the most timid dogs many have ever seen, she loves people, has no problems at all, if she doesn’t like something she will simply get up and move away.

  • i want a dog after reading this

  • now i know what to do if i get a dog

  • Never getting any of this technology pets stuff… or a dog.

  • Technology these days involved so much and it is not only for humans. New innovations in the mammal world is also a turning point in the modern world. Although, these technologies help train your dog, it can make the owner lazy and irresponsible. One cannot reply on tech to replace responsibility

  • What worked for my two dogs, as well as 3 puppies that I watched over for a week at my house was a schedule with a punishment/reward system. I’d let them out every 45 minuets for 15 minuets. When they went outside I praised them, and then gave them a milk bone. If they went inside, I’d get after them using my aggressive loud voice. After a while they’d get the idea.

  • One method that worked on seven of my grandfathers dogs for potty training was simple and hardly cost anything. He would place newspaper on the floor of a room, covering it from wall to wall, and got the dog to use that as a bathroom for a day or two. Then each day, he would slowly take pieces of newspaper away, until there was one left. By this time the dog was only going to the bathroom on the one piece of newspaper. And once he removed that pice the dogs no longer went to the washroom in the house. I don’t expect this to work with every dog, but feel free to try it if you want. It shouldn’t cost more than a few dollars.

  • The fact that your little dog is afraid of being in the same room as a potty patch is so sad as it brings to mind a similar experience/background from my rescued dog, Charlie (no longer with me). When Charlie was much younger he was beaten by a ‘cheated on’ husband. A little fox terrier/italian greyhound (latter like your dog) mix. Can you believe it. Whether from high strung breads or because of ‘environmental’ factors, there are certain triggers that trigger an emotion in any dog and those triggers can be added onto in the neurel network. So reward and a certain image or cong not in anyway associated with you should be the name of the game and technology can play a part in that as long as it doesn’t hurt the dog (like the green patch you and your wife made sure didn’t hurt) is good or another loud devixe that is associated with no is good. I like the idea of soothing spray. Though it was hard to get Charlie to except the spray for plaque removal. He has an absolute ‘no spray’ rule. I have used to diaper like things on the back porch for him though even if he stayed on them they would never soak up all that he was able to give them. I am most concerned about any type of choke collars or even conventional collars used to tightly. When I was out and someone else had to walk them they were pulling to hard on him and it lead to a nearly collapsed trachea (I was out a lot). Since then the halter was the only thing from then on I used with him and that was it. All better. That is the only leash that responds well to trained as well as the dog’s atttitude is nt in his neck but in his whole body and there is full body control. (Though I hate to use that word) I took him to training school the same week I rescued him and he was the most popular dog among humans and other dogs that I have ever seen. He only once backtracked in the house and that was when I was sick. There was one chain in a green bag (forget the name) that worked really well as it was the sound the mother makes when mad. Instinctual. No one should ever buy a device to actually use on their dog. That’s a recipe for pain and if you want to be shallow about it, frustration on your part.

  • On my dog I used an electric collar for a week but I felt bad for my dog and took it off. Plus it didn’t work for my dog. My dog worked better with getting sprayed by water.

  • I once had a dog and my mom liked treating it as if it were a baby boy and truely and fortunetly it kinda did work all you pretty much need to do is show it some love

  • Well. Dogs are great, and so it technology. So these things can go together!

  • Mohamed Hisham Hadjazi

    my uncle trains dogs for hunting. sometimes I think animals are actually smart and they just play dumb in front of us. until I see my neighbors dog. I think he is some kind of mastiff. anyways I see that dog digging a hole in the grass and barking for about an hour in front that hole. the he just closes that hole and goes to sleep. he does it every day…… my neighbor says he doesn’t know why he do it.


  • Great. Now there would be released a computer for dogs too? 😀

  • louis percival

    Strange thought but technology is moving forward, times change, its strange to think that pets can be included in technology but great concept.

  • I love my little toy poodle <3 #$15amaawesome

  • Pete Wroblewski

    From my experience,
    the best way to learned how to train a puppy is to join a training program that
    teaches you How to train your puppy. They are available through the YMCA, YWCA,
    etc. Most people only use voice commands. All voice commands should include a
    hand signal. Believe it or not, the hand signal is what the dog responds to.
    The dog picks up on emotions in voice commands. We (myself, wife and two young
    kids) have trained three dogs with the techniques we (yes all of you go to the
    class) learned in the training classes and it really makes a difference. Our
    first dog was going back to the Human Society because she was so hyper and
    would not respond to any type of training. After the 8 training classes, she
    has been a dog all my neighbors wanted. She is 16 now and still responds to all
    commands. She can barely see and hear, but she still helps teach the other dogs
    by example.

    Another great resource
    is the Puppy Raising Manual from Leader Dogs for the Blind. Yes, we have
    graduated to service dogs. Raising a Leader Dog (Puppy) uses the same
    techniques we learned in our classes. Formal training for a blind person
    happens after you return the dog. The only real difference between the two, You
    take the dog everywhere with you. It is a real rewarding experience. It is amazing
    how much respect the raisers and the dogs get. There is a similar manual from
    Paws with a Cause, but you have to request it.

    There is an easier/lazier way though, but not as
    rewarding and hurts the pocket book a little more. Sign-up on a waiting list
    for the Leader Dogs that don’t make it through the program. You still will have
    to learn the commands, but is less work and stress.

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