What, you don’t have a training bag?
If you are training a dog, be it a pet or a future competition dog you should have a training bag and here is why! The more prepared you are the more likely you are to actually train your dog. Think of it as your “go bag.” Anytime you leave your home with your dog your training bag should accompany you.
So what should be in your bag? Treats! Definitely treats. Yummy, tasty treats that are easy for your dog to eat. Nothing that is crunchy and will make crumbs or take your dog too long to eat.
You need to have a bait bag for those treats. The bait bag should be easy to get in and out of with one hand and be able to be closed easily. French hinge and magnetic closures work best here. Why? Because you are training a dog and you are likely to bend over at some point and if that bag is not closed its contents will be all over the floor! Also, if you have a taller dog they can just poke their head right into an unsecured bag.
There should definitely be a clicker in your bag. A spare clicker or three is always a good idea too so when you lose or forget the first one you have a back up!
Leashes. A few different options is always nice. A plain old boring 4 foot leash is a must have item. It does not need to be fancy. Don’t attach the poop bag holder to your leash either, that is what your bait bag is for! Should you drop the leash with the poop bag holder on there it is now “chasing” your dog and most dogs do not take to this well. This should be your go to leash when out in busy public areas or group training classes! The exception here is if you are tall and your dog is short – then you may just want a 6 foot leash, but generally speaking 4 feet of leash is plenty for your dog to get into mischief with.
In addition to a 4 foot leash you may want an 8-10 ft long line for certain situations where 4 feet is too little, but a true long line is too much. Such as working on recalls and stay work in a group class. A longer line, say 30ft or more, is a wonderful tool for your “toolbox” when working on recalls and stay work outdoors. It may also be necessary for hiking or more leisurely “sniffing walks” where you want your dog to have as much freedom as possible.
A harness specifically used for hiking or more leisurely “sniffing walks” where you clip your long line to the back of the harness and let your dog do his thing! Something different than the collar or harness you use when asking for loose leash walking. This harness should be thought of more as “active wear” and be as physically unobtrusive to the dog as possible versus a front clip harness.
You should have a mat for your dog to settle on! Your mat does not need to be fancy. A towel, yoga mat, or bath mat are all fine options for a mat. Ideally something that can be rolled or folded up to fit in your bag!
Toys! Throw a few toys in that bag. Not every reward needs to be food. If your dog likes toys you should have a few in that bag of yours.
A water bowl! And water of course! That water bowl can also double as a training tool and can be used for teaching self control and as a distraction training tool.
Different Bags for Different Things?
One bag should be just fine for most, but if you do a lot of water related things you may want to consider a waterproof bag to throw all the water related objects. Just be sure to remember to empty the bag if you have wet stuff in there! I personally have my main training bag and then a smaller bag for just nose work. I got tired of lugging around my bigger bag for a quick class or practice sessions where I didn’t need all of the other training paraphernalia.
Other items to consider
Baby wipes! Baby wipes are your friend and can clean a whole multitude of messes (human or dog)! Every training bag should have baby wipes and perhaps a towel for those rainy days.
There are a few seasonal items you may wish to consider and rotate in and out as the weather changes. Cooling coats for hot climates, Jackets for cold climates, boots, sunblock, pet safe bug spray, rain coats, etc. Basically whatever else makes sense to you and your dogs needs!
You can never go wrong by throwing in something for your dog to chew on or a food stuffed for those occasions you may find yourseld waiting. This can be helpful during a group class when the instructor is speaking, agility, or nose work classes where it is common for dogs to have some down time between their turns.
Flashlights or a headlamp and reflective gear for both you and your dog if you do any walking at night.
A small first aid kit is always a good thing to have on hand too! Another handy thing to have is a copy of your dog’s Rabies vaccine certificate. This is especially true if you travel across state lines.
And don’t forget the poop bags!!!
Remember, the more prepared you are to train your dog, the more likely that you actually will train your pup! Your pup will thank you for it.