German Shepherd puppy on a leash sitting in the park

Training A Big Dog? Basic Tools You’ll Need

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Training your large breed dog can be a rewarding yet challenging job. Large breeds need some basic training tools that can hold up to the dog’s strength and energy. With so many training gadgets on the market these days, it can be a bit overwhelming to a lot of people. That’s why we’ve posted this information — this article and list are all about helping you buy the best big dog basic training tools.  

Let’s start out right. Two essential items for big dog training are a strong collar and a quality training leash.   Buy a collar that will help you maintain control of your dog during training, walking, and playing.  Get a sturdy training leash, not a flimsy and dangerous retractable leash.  

Big dogs get excited and will pull so a good collar and leash help you keep control  

One training tool that is often advertised but should never be used is a shock collar. These expensive devices are touted to train the dog to obey commands and to stop bad behaviour. However, it’s a bad idea and a cruel training device often used by lazy and impatient dog trainers.

Basic Dog Training Tools

Having the right dog training tools can make all the difference. Here are some basic dog training tools that dog owners should have:

Leash and Collar

A leash and collar are two of the most basic dog training tools you’ll need. A sturdy leash will give you control over your dog’s movements, while a collar can effectively signal to the dog what you want. 

There are three main types of collars to shop for. These are: 

  • Chrome plated choke collars
  • Painfully punishing barbed collars
  • Soft leather or nylon comfortable collars. 

Choke collars are classed as “an often painful and inhumane training tool” by the Humane Society. They recommend that they should NOT be used as they can lead to injury or even death.

Pronged (Pinch) collars are just wrong and should not be used.  Why?  Because they are negative reinforcement based and they intentionally hurt the dog — these collars can turn an otherwise good dog into a mean dog — that’s just wrong!

Soft collars can be worn by your dog comfortably every day.  They quickly become liked by most dogs.  Why? Because most dogs seem to enjoy wearing a comfy collar due to it becoming a part of their self-identity. Indeed, the collar gives the dog a reassuring sense of family belonging and bonding. Plus, soft collars have handy “D” rings for attaching the dog’s ID and rabies tags.

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Retractable leashes can be useful for training your dog to walk on a loose leash. But, these need to be used cautiously because they give your dog too much freedom and you too little control. Plus, retractable leashes don’t hold up well to an untrained big dog (110+ lbs.) pulling against them.

Walking leashes are usually made of soft leather or nylon. These are strong and are best for controlling your dog when you’re training and exercising him or her.  Typically, these leashes are 4,6, or 8 feet long depending on your specific needs. 

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Effective Dog Training Techniques

Training your big dog properly will not only improve the dog’s behaviour but it will also strengthen your bond. Here are some proven dog training techniques that can help you achieve your training goals:

Clicker Training

Clicker training is a popular positive reinforcement way to train dogs. Clicker training is useful for teaching your dog a wide range of desired behaviours. These include everything from basic obedience to more complex commands. Clickers don’t cost much and they are an easy tool for any dog owner or trainer to use.

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Training Mat

A training mat is typically used as a tool for teaching a dog the stay command and for use to effectively potty train. Mats are usually washable and are made of a soft, durable rubber material or some other comfortable synthetic.

Mats can be temporarily placed in a dog crate or anywhere in your home. Besides potty training, you can also use a training mat to teach your dog to stay in one place until you give the command to come. Mats are useful in many ways, but especially to help your dog learn to relax or patiently wait for your next training command.


A muzzle is a useful tool for controlling any dog with a tendency towards aggressiveness or biting. Muzzles come in a variety of styles and sizes, so it’s important to choose one that fits correctly. A muzzle should never be used as a punishment.  They are simply preventive tools. Muzzles are meant to prevent a dog from injuring themselves or others.

A muzzle should never be used as a punishment.

Using the right tools and calm patience allows you to easily train your dog to be a well-behaved and obedient companion.

Leash Training

Leash training is a really important part of any dog training and especially for controlling big dogs. Your dog should walk calmly and be well-behaved on a leash. That means NO PULLING OR TUGGING! And, you must be patient and consistent to improve your dog’s behaviour and make walks more enjoyable for both of you.

Crate Training

Crate training is often a technique used for puppy training but it can also be useful for adult dog training — especially for adult rescue dog adoptions. The crate must be seen by the dog as a safe and comfortable den space. Crates can also be very useful when certain anxiety or unwanted behaviour issues pop up like nervous urination or separation anxiety.  


Being consistent is key to effective dog training. You need to be consistent in your commands, rewards, and consequences for all behaviour. But, always be positive and never angry or in a bad mood when teaching your dog. Only by adhering to this rule can your dog really understand what you expect and it reinforces the dog’s good behavior.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is the proper training method that rewards your dog for good behaviour. This method relies on the fact that dogs will repeat preferred behaviours that are backed up by positive trainer and dog interaction. This interaction can be praise, pets, treats, or anything pleasant that bonds the dog and trainer in a good way.  Also, the “trainer” doesn’t necessarily mean a professional trainer, this can certainly be the dog’s owner as well. 

One of the most effective forms of positive reinforcement is rewarding with healthy dog treats. Treats are a powerful motivator for most dogs which reinforce good behaviour quickly and effectively. It’s important to give treats that your dog loves. Using treats sparingly as rewards ensures that the dog will remain interested and motivated. A treat pouch that connects to your belt or waistband frees your hands and makes rewarding the dog much easier. 

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When using treats in training, it’s important to remember that they should be used as a reward, not a bribe. This means that you should only give your dog a treat after they have exhibited the desired behaviour. If you offer a treat before your dog has done anything, they may start to associate the treat with begging or demanding behaviour.

Overall, positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for training your big dog. By using treats and other rewards, you can build a strong bond with your furry friend and teach them the behaviours that you want to see.

Training a Big Dog

When training a Big Dog, using positive reinforcement dog training tactics may improve your dog’s behaviour and help you bond with him or her. Positive reinforcement methods including clicker training, leash training, crate training, and consistency are all effective methods that can help you meet your dog training goals. Always remember to be patient, consistent, and always reward your dog’s good behaviour.

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