Illinois' Top Dog Training Academy

Safe and Approved Dog Training Tools Guide

When it comes to dog training, there are various training styles, techniques and methods that all have advantages and disadvantages. Every dog is different so finding the right style for your dog is key to their learning. Purely positive training is where all training should start, as you build your dogs’ motivation system and get them to love to work with you. This is how behaviors are acquired by every dog, through consistent reinforcement history. Associating commands and desired behaviors with high value food, toys, and pets is what makes them want to do it again. Whether it be pulling on a leash, excessive barking, or even a sit stay, you must always first show your dog what to do and practice in a low distraction environment where they can be successful. Once your dog knows what to do, the most common struggle all dog owners face is motivating their dog to WANT to do it in all environments. Their motivation can change very quickly depending on the situation. Your dog may walk perfectly with a loose leash outside but as soon as a dog or person walks by they seem to not want to walk with a loose leash anymore. We must motivate our dogs’ in this situation and sometimes there may be no special food, treat, or toy that will ever motivate them to listen in this situation. If your dog struggles with this, then balanced training might be a great fit for you and your dog.

Balanced dog training when done properly, involves conditioning some type of safe and approved dog training tool. To do this properly you must first teach your dog how to respond to the specific dog training tool and also ensure that it is a good fit for your dog meaning they respond well and are not scared or timid. Once the tool has been taught then you can go train in some high distraction situations and use it as another form of motivation to try and get your dog to perform the correct behaviors. The most effective way to use any dog training tool is to use it as an attention grabber or redirector, rather than as a punishment. Below we will look at the benefits and drawbacks of some of the most common dog training tools as well as which specific brands are safe and quality to ensure proper feedback for your dog.

Starmark Collar

This collar is a great option for puppies or dogs that are sensitive to leash pressure. The Starmark collar is a good and less annoying alternative to a classic metal prong collar. The collar consists of plastic triangles and functions like a typical prong or martingale. The pressure is applied when there is tension on the leash. This collar must be used on leash so it’s a great fit for dogs that pull or any on leash training you’d like to do with your dog. This training collar is also very easy for your dog to understand and condition as well as easy to use for owners since all you have to do is pull on the leash to give the feedback. The main drawback of this tool is that it’s very difficult to use without a leash so certain off leash behaviors can be hard to train or improve. Below is a link for the Starmark training collar, they have two sizes, small and large depending on the size of your dog.

Metal Prong Collar

The classic metal prong collar is one of the most commonly used dog training tools today. The collar will close when tension is applied to the leash and the collar consists of multiple metal prong links that can be adjusted to fit any size dog. This collar is very similar to the starmark collar previously mentioned above but can be more annoying for dogs that are not as responsive to standard leash pressure or the Starmark collar. This dog training tool is great for loose leash walking and other on leash training. The prong collar must be used on leash so it can be difficult to fix off leash behavior but with lots of on leash practice you can eventually get results off leash. The prong is also very easy for the dogs to learn and is also easy for owners to use as well. There are lots of different brands but you want to make sure you get the right one for safety reasons. Some prong collars are made of aluminum or other cheap materials which your dog can easily break or pull through. We highly recommend the Herm Spreneger Prong collar which is stainless steel. There are multiple sizes but the most two common options is the 2.25mm collar for small dogs and the 3.0mm option for medium or large dogs. Below is a link for the Herm Spreneger Prong collar.

Compressed Air

Compressed air is also referred to as an electronic duster or they have a branded dog training version called a Pet Corrector. This tools sprays air with a loud sound that can be a great fit for sensitive dogs or any dog that just needs an attention grabber. Compressed air is great for barking, reactivity, fixation on things, or to teach no jumping or counter surfing. This tool is very simple to use but you must be close to your dog for it to be effective. Compressed air is also very limited in scale which means that it is the same sound every time so some dogs do not care or respond while others can get used to it after a while. You can get these at Home Depot, Target, Amazon etc.


Electronic collars can be a great fit for most dogs, however they must be conditioned and taught properly which can take a lot of time and varies greatly depending on the dog. These tools are great for off leash training and behavior modification since they are remote based. The main advantage aside from off leash control is that the dogs do not associate the feedback to the trainer or owner but rather to the behavior itself. This makes it a great fit for resource guarding, reactivity, and other undesired behaviors like counter surfing, digging, and jumping. These collars are also very scalable because you have lots of functions with different output levels. This allows us to fine tune it to each dog since every dog will respond to things very differently. The main drawback of this training tool is it can be rather complex for both dog and owner to learn. If you decide to try ecollar with your dog, make sure you get a high quality collar. There are a lot of different ecollar brands with a big range in price; typically the best ones will be in the $200 range. It’s very important to avoid cheaply made collars and get a nice brand with quality functions and output. We recommend the Dogtra 280c or the Mini Educator and links will be included below. Here at Seek we also highly recommend to consult with a professional trainer on how to properly teach and use ecollar. There are a lot of owners that use these collars wrong and when done correctly can be rather complex. Reach out to us today if ecollar training is something you are interested in and we can help teach you and your dog how to properly use one.

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