May's theme is favorite training tools. It's obvious by the title, but this is a positive, force free blog hop. We don't condone the use of things like choke, pinch or shock collars. ;)
My favorite training tools are my voice, my hands, and a clicker (I highly suggest the Starmark clicker!). I use the clicker when training puppies (Pike is solely on the clicker right now, since he's just learning marker training and very basic obedience), and whenever I first start a complex cue with Nola, such as retrievals.
Once the puppy understands the concept behind marker training, or Nola grasps the basic idea of what I'm asking, I switch to using my voice to mark the correct behavior. I use "Yes!" in the place of the click, but you can use whatever word you'd like. You just have to "charge" the word, the same way you do with a clicker. Your voice isn't as reliable as a clicker, since tone and pitch can't be the same 100% of the time like with a clicker, but it works great for a marker-savvy dog and it frees both hands up!
I use my hands when I train my dogs almost more than I do my voice or other body language. If I'm working with Nola, I use hand signals in addition to or in the place of verbal cues, since she's a very visual dog and tends to respond better to motion than sound. Nearly every cue she knows has a hand signal to go along with the word. Hand signals, in my opinion, require more focus than verbal cues, which makes for a flashier performance and a better bond between dog and handler. I think that's why Nola prefers signals; her focus on me is so intense it's easier for her to read my body than my words.
Pike, on the other hand, responds better to verbal cues. However, affection and touch are huge reinforcers for him. I've found that touch and praise work better in some situations for him (recalling, for example) than food rewards. He's the direct opposite of Nola in that regard; her food drive is thorough the roof, her tug/toy drive is high, and her drive for touch reward is low. Pike has a high touch drive, medium food drive, and almost no toy drive. They're an interesting pair to train, that's for sure!
Here are some videos of the pups working:
What are your favorite training tools? A certain harness? A bait bag? A clicker? Post and share!