Looking for the best dog training tools to help make your job a whole lot easier?
For each item, I’ll tell you a bit about what it is and why you need it, then give you my top pick!
We’ll also talk a bit about the tools that really have no place in training your dog.
Let’s get started!
What are the best dog training tools?
Let’s break this down into two categories: must-haves and nice-to-haves.
The must-haves are things you’ll want to have on hand for every type of training (including training classes).
Must-have training tools
Use the table below for a quick look at my top picks, then read on for more details.
Heads up: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never crate trained any of my five dogs that I’ve owned over the last 18+ years.
I tried it for about one night with my German Shepherd. She screamed. I cried, and on night two she started sleeping in my bed.
She was the most well-behaved dog on the planet, so I must have done something right.
That said, nearly all professionals recommend crate training in one way or another, usually as part of housebreaking a dog.
When shopping for a crate, try to choose something that will grow with your dog, especially if you’re buying it when he’s still an itty bitty puppy.
I like the crates by MidWest Homes for Pets. They’re among the most highly rated crates on Amazon and come in a myriad of sizes and styles.
- ICrate the 'All Inclusive Dog Crate' includes free divider panel, durable dog tray, carrying handle, 4 'roller' feet to protect floors & Midwest quality guarantee 1 year warranty
- Medium single door folding dog crate ideal for dog breeds w/ adult weight of 26 to 40 pounds, convenient divider panel allows crate to expand as your dog grows, iCrate measures 30 length x 19 width x 21 height inches
- Your dog's home while you're away from home: Durable design creates a safe place for your pet while you're away & caters to your dog’s natural “den” instincts
- Safe & Secure Home: Heavy duty slide bolt latch firmly locks dog crate door in place keeping your dog safely inside their dog crate
- Easy assembly & Portable Design: Sets up in seconds w/ no tools required for assembly & folds flat for convenient storage or travel, roller feet protect hardwoods, make repositioning easy
2. A front-lead harness
When you’re teaching your dog to walk nice on a leash, a harness is your best friend.
They’re infinitely better than choke collars, or even a good martingale collar because they let you control your dog without potentially injuring his throat.
I love the Rabbitgo Dog Harness. It comes in four adjustable sizes and three bright colors (plus basic black).
If you’ll be walking your dog at night, go with one of the bright colors.
- 【 LARGE DOG HARNESS 】 - ★ Measuring Neck Girth: 16.1" - 23.2", Chest Girth: 20.5" - 36" ★. Please refer to the size chart before purchasing for your lovely dog. Recommended Breeds: Medium to Large Dogs, such as Golden Retriever, Huskie, Labrador, Alaska, German Shepherd, Akita, etc. Make your puppy stand out with this Classic Black Harness!
- 【 NO PULL, NO CHOKE 】- Our non-pulling dog harness is specially designed with 2 Metal Leash Rings for safer dog walks. Use the CHEST attachment clip to stop your dog from pulling on walks, perfect for dog training or dogs who tend to pull. The BACK one is great for casual walks, jogging, hiking, etc
- 【 EASY TO USE 】- This hassle-free overhead harness is easy to put on and take off with its 2 Fast-release Buckles. SLIDE the harness over your dog's head, BUCKLE it up, ADJUST the straps, and here you go! Grab the Top Handle for additional control. Lightweight and easy to clean
- 【 FULLY ADJUSTABLE 】- This adjustable harness features 4 easy Adjusting Straps around the body. You can use its 2 neck straps and 2 chest straps to create a Perfect Fit for your dog with some room of growth. No worries about slipping out or choking
- 【 SAFE AND COMFORTABLE 】- Your dog will enjoy the daily walk in this comfort dog harness! Made of durable Nylon Oxford and padded with Soft Cushion to protect your dog's skin. Breathable air mesh keeps your dog cool during outdoor activities. Super bright Reflective Strips ensure a SAFE walk both day and night
3. A good leash
Even the best harness is useless without a leash and you’ll want to make sure it’s a good one!
While you can get away with something relatively cheap if you’re training, say, a chihuahua, bigger dogs definitely need something stronger.
The EzyDog Zero Shock Leash is a good choice, especially if you have a really strong dog.
The shock absorption helps take pressure off both you and your dog, while the neoprene handle makes it more comfy for you.
If you’ve ever felt like your hand was going to be torn clear off when your dog tried to take off after a squirrel, you know why that’s a good thing!
- PATENTED ZERO SHOCK TECHNOLOGY: Shock reduction improves control and cushions and eases the pressure for both the owner and the dog.
- HIGHLY REFLECTIVE INTEGRATED TRIM: The highly reflective threads woven into your ZERO SHOCK Leash provide you with greater visibility and improved night safety.
- PATENTED SOFT TOUCH TECHNOLOGY: Superior high-quality webbing with innovative secondary Traffic Control handle for confident control and comfort.
- PADDED HANDLE WITH WATERPROOF NEOPRENE LINING: Enjoy the comfort and durability of a fully neoprene-lined padded handle that makes any outing comfortable.
- BEST SHOCK ABSORBING DOG CONTROL & TRAINING LEASH: Both the 25" & 48" ZERO SHOCK Next Generation Shock Absorbing Leashes are compatible with all of our award-winning EzyDog Harnesses and Collars.
4. Training Treats
Training treats are a must for reward training, and a good idea for all other types as well.
Since you’ll be using them frequently in the beginning, go with some low-cal and all-natural, like Zuke’s.
You might think that you need bigger treats for big dogs but you really don’t.
Your dog just needs get something in exchange for doing what you ask, it doesn’t matter how big or small it is.
- One (1) 16.0 oz Bag - Zuke's Mini Naturals Training Dog Treats Chicken Recipe
- Wholesome, tender mini bites for all your adventures in training
- Real chicken is the #1 ingredient
- Less than 3 calories per treat for guilt free rewarding
- Healthy dog treats made with natural ingredients like real chicken and whole food berries
5. Reference Books
If you’re new to training dogs, then I recommend grabbing yourself a really good book that you can refer to before your sessions.
Since there are literally thousands of them out there, it’s hard to say “this is the one you want.”
I feel like it’s the most engaging and comprehensive guide for new dog owners.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- George, Zak (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 226 Pages - 06/07/2016 (Publication Date) - Ten Speed Press (Publisher)
Nice-to-have training tools
These dog training tools aren’t vital to the process, but they definitely help make things easier!
Again, use the table to quickly check out my top picks.
If you’re planning on clicker training, then you definitely need a clicker. Common sense, right?
However, even if you’re going with other strategies, a clicker is still a very helpful device for all types of reward-based training.
Clickers are clickers and don’t really differ much from each other, but the EcoCity Upgraded Clicker has more positive reviews than just about any other, so I recommend going with that one.
- ★A brand new happy communication mode with the pet. Great for training puppies and young adult dogs!
- ★Fits nicely in your hand, it has elastic wrist strap so you don't drop it.
- ★Button presses easily and comes right back up without getting stuck, good sound, not to loud or soft.
- ★The Clicker can not only train the dog but also the cat, bird, chicken, sheep and even mouse.
- ★100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE & LIFETIME WARRANTY. Don't miss!
7. Toys & puzzles
Dog toys in general make nice rewards for dogs who aren’t motivated by food, while interactive puzzles are good for enrichment activities.
Like treats and books, there are countless toys from which to choose. I personally love the SPOT Ethical Pet interactive puzzle below.
I don’t know why it doesn’t get more love on Amazon. We’ve had ours for a year and it’s still in perfect shape (and no sharp edges).
Of course, we only use it once a day. My dog plays “the hot dog game” with me at night, where I hide hot dog pieces in it for her.
It’s a great bonding game that helps reinforce her training.
- This dog training toy is made of sturdy wooden construction
- Training treats- this dog feeder requires your dog to actually think about what they are doing and whether it will get them the desired results
- IQ puzzle- a dog training device that provides them the mental stimulation they need to flourish, strengthen and test their skills
- Dog puzzle toys are not only for fun but they also strengthen your dog's cognitive abilities
- Eliminates boredom- this puzzle toy for dogs helps prevent boredom and related negative behavior, good for training or alone time
8. Dog Whistle
A dog whistle can be a good tool when you’re teaching Fido to come when called, especially off leash.
It’s important to note the difference between a recall whistle and a so-called “anti-bark” whistle.
One is designed to help get your dog’s attention and the other is designed to hurt his ears.
Pretty much any plain old whistle will do, but I like the Acme one because it’s bright orange, so I’m far less likely to lose it.
- Designed and made in the UK
- High tone dog whistle
- Fitted with solid, waterproof pearl, to give a trill for those who want a distinctive and different sound
- With a frequency that fluctuates by 750 hertz
- Easy blowing
9. Agility courses components
Agility coursework isn’t just for future show dogs!
This type of training is perfect for high-energy pups who love a good challenge (like my Pharaoh Hound).
I’m looking into making my own course, but if you just want to buy one that’s mostly ready to go, the PawHut obstacle course is a good pick.
- Competitive agility course enhances the bond between dog and owner
- A variety of equipment types (adjustable high jump, weave poles, square pause box, round open tunnel) keeps your pets interest high throughout training
- Includes ground stakes and rope for securing your obstacle course in place outdoors
- Lightweight for quick and easy set up and store away with the three included carrying bags
- 190T polyester material resists tearing and ripping during exercise and training
10. Training Tools Storage Bag
Do you need a fancy storage bag for all your training treats, toys and other tools?
No, not at all. You could just throw everything into a shopping tote and call it a day.
Still, the Paw Lifestyles pouch is definitely a nice-to-have item, especially since you can wear/carry it three different ways.
- EASILY STORES KIBBLE, TOYS & TREATS: The convenient drawstring securely holds in generous amounts of dog training treats, accessories, and dog toys. Enjoy the easy to clean bright green lining which makes it simple to spot pet treats right when you need them. Perfect for dog training at the park!
- KEEPS YOU PREPARED: You’ll love the convenient built in dog poop bag holder so your dog waste bags are ready right when you need them. Quickly grab your favorite dog training clicker from one of the 2 convenient d-rings while obedience training with your pup.
- 3 EASY WAYS TO WEAR: Choose to wear using the removable 48" adjustable waistband, removable shoulder strap, or strong metal belt clip. Made of lightweight weatherproof nylon fabric that keeps your dog treats dry while on those fun early morning walks with your doggy.
- STORE YOUR STUFF: Safely store your smartphone, money or keys in the two zippered pouches or front mesh netting while taking a stroll with your doggie. This ultimate dog treat bag has it all!
- 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE + GREAT GIFT IDEA: Love your new dog treat pouch or your money back! We guarantee your complete satisfaction. Also great for puppy training classes + dog trainer approved. CLICK ADD TO CART NOW!
Now that we know the best dog training tools to have on hand, let’s take a look at the worst!
What are the Worst Dog Training Tools?
Some tools (both literal and metaphorical) are either so cruel or so useless that they really have no place in dog training.
You may find “experts” that disagree with me, but honestly, those aren’t the so-called experts that I want anywhere near my dog.
1. Painful “deterrent” devices
Shock collars immediately come to mind, but basically anything that uses pain to teach your dog what not to do has no place in positive training methods.
If you want more info on the drawbacks of “aversion training,” Respect Your Dog has a good article that cites scientific research and other experts.
2. Invisible fences
I know a lot of dog owners will agree with me on this one, but hear me out.
First, these fences use painful stimuli and punishment-based training methods to contain your dog within the boundaries.
Second, they’re just too prone to failure to risk it, especially if you live on a busy street.
VetStreet has a great article on all the pros and cons of electric fences if you want to learn more.
3. Dominance moves
Things like the Alpha Roll and other dominance moves have no basis in science and can actually make your dog more aggressive.
Victoria Stilwell, my dog-training idol, explains it like this in her article, The Truth About Dominance:
Dogs are not on a quest for world domination. They are not socialized wolves who are constantly striving to be ‘top dog’ over us, and they are not hard-wired to try and control every situation.Victoria Stilwell
Basically, we need to let go of this theory that our dogs need to be dominated.
Dogs do not learn anything from punishment.
No wait, that’s not entirely true. They do learn to fear you. If that’s what you’re going for, then please reconsider owning a dog.
Otherwise, anything designed to act as punishment- including yelling, hitting, rubbing your dog’s nose in his own waste, etc- has NO place in dog training.
5. Anger, impatience, and frustration
Look, I get it, training a dog can be frustrating. My Pharaoh Hound is almost three and she JUST learned to come when called out in the back yard (it’s fenced in).
To be fair, her breed has virtually no off-leash recall and it’s not uncommon for them to ignore you in favor of hunting more interesting prey.
I’ve spent many irksome hours outside trying to catch her because it was too cold, too hot, or too late for her to be pacing around out there.
Then one day about a month ago, all my training and bonding games finally paid off. She now stops and waits for me when I tell her to do so.
It’s okay to feel frustrated, but don’t take it out on your dog. Project a calm, cool and patient attitude and your dog will eventually get it.