It’s important to be prepared for any adventure with your dog, especially because they often turn into great training opportunities. While packing for your dog can vary depending on the activity, here are a handful of training items that are sure to help with any outing.
1. Treats – Before leaving the house, I make sure to have a couple of different types of treats. One type should be a “normal” treat – not super high value but something your dog will work for. I often use Zuke’s Skinny Bakes for this purpose. The other treat should be a very high value, “doggy crack” type of treat. These treats come in handy if you need to up the reinforcement value while you are out and about. Zuke’s Lil’ Links or Zuke’s Z-Filets are a perfect option for this.
2. A Toy – In addition to treats, we like to use toys and play as reinforcement when training our dogs. Toys that are easy to pack and carry, like a tennis ball or small tug, work best for this purpose. Using a toy for reinforcement is a great way to get your dog to engage directly with you in any environment while they expend some energy.
3. Leash – Bringing a leash might seem obvious, but if you are accustomed to always having your dog off leash or hiking with them, it can be easily forgotten. I always keep an extra six-foot flat leash in my car, and there are many times that I have been grateful for this. Not only is a leash essential in training and keeping everyone safe, it’s nice to have on hand for those impromptu adventures. If you decide to go downtown and have your dog with you, having a leash allows you to enjoy a nice walk together. A six-foot lead is also nice for potty breaks when you can’t just let your dog out. I have had dogs on a two-foot lead and when they have to potty, there’s not enough distance for either the dog or the owner to be comfortable.
4. Poop Bags – Part of being a responsible pet parent is picking up after them. You don’t want to get caught downtown or on the river trail without proper poop pick-up gear. Poop bags usually come in small rolls that fit easily into purses, packs and pockets.
5. A Bed/Mat – Not only is a bed or mat a nice place for your dog to lie down, but it can be a helpful training tool as well. Saying “On your bed” is a way to communicate with your dog when you want them to settle and stay. We use it all the time when we go climbing or into the backcountry. When we train downtown or in busy areas, we always bring a bed to show our dogs that we don’t want them to engage with their environment at that moment. This is a nice skill to teach if you want to take your dog with you to go get coffee, hang out, and relax. While there are endless gear options for training your dogs, we like to keep things simple with items you can easily keep in your car. By sticking to the basics, you’re sure to be ready for any outing with your dog, whether planned or spontaneous.