The following are simply a few places from which I’ve purchased training equipment and/or gained some useful knowledge. Opinions are merely my own.
Leerburg– Leerburg’s website is one of the first places I came across and I still visit very regularly. It is not only a store full of tons of quality training gear and videos, but also has a message board and comprehensive Q&A section that is helpful to pet and competition dog owners alike. I have several quality Amish leather leashes from them of different sizes and styles, and have also purchased a lot of tugs, ranging from pocket size to full bite wedges. While I’ve steered a lot of people who have asked me in their direction, when anyone comments on prices I tell them that the quality backs up the price, plus they have some of the best shipping prices around. I have only had one or two items (out of many) that weren’t quite as sturdy as I’d hoped, but are still usable and in use.
In addition, Leerburg publishes a whole library of DVDs done with Michael Ellis, who is an incredibly gifted trainer not only at training dogs but also training people. He makes it easy for novice and veteran trainers alike to understand the process. He uses a marker (reward-based) training system that establishes a strong foundation for teaching nearly anything to a dog, plus it is something many dogs visibly enjoy doing. I own a lot of Michael’s DVDs by now, and nearly all have been informative in one way or another. Down the road, when I start with a puppy, the options seem limitless using Michael’s system of training. Michael runs his own school in California which hopefully one day I will get to attend.
Leerburg’s founder is the topic of many discussion boards out there. I have never personally met him, but will say that if you watch his more recent DVDs, including those with Michael Ellis, you’ll hear him talk about how his attitudes about dog training have evolved over the years, and sometimes he even apologizes for past actions. It’s just something to keep in mind when reading about him, and at the end of the day he has one of the single biggest resources for dog training out there.
Elite K-9– I have been also impressed with the quality of nearly every item I’ve purchased from this company. They offer tugs in many different sizes and styles, and the “working balls” they sell on a string are some of the best and most useful that I’ve come across so far. I’ve exchanged a few emails with their customer service department and gotten fast, helpful responses to all of those as well. In addition, their bite pillow is probably the most compact dimension-wise that I’ve found so far, which is just a nice thing to have from a portability standpoint, but not necessary. Shipping is also fast- my most recent order was purchased on a Monday and arrived on a Thursday using their most basic shipping option.
Elite K-9 also sells leashes and collars made out of ASAT (all-season, all-terrain), a leather substitute. It has proven to be a very sturdy, low maintenance material that I’ve enjoyed using. One of the ASAT collars I have serves well as a utility collar, and the two leashes I have are great for when we’re out in the rain. I probably still like leather more overall, but ASAT is worth a look.
Hallmark K-9– I only recently dealt with Hallmark K-9 for the first time, but was very impressed. They had great reviews before I purchased from them, and my interaction supported those other opinions. I called about one item, someone answered the phone immediately, gave me some helpful answers, and when I placed my order it arrived two days later. Hallmark K-9, like some of the others I mentioned, imports a couple European brands of dog training equipment, and they seem to be one of the very few importers of equipment by Gappay, which is a fairly popular brand manufactured in Europe.
Ray Allen is also a well-known brand. I have never personally purchased anything from them, but they are one of the biggest names out there, and I see the name a lot especially in bitework-related areas (i.e. bite suits, blinds, etc.).
Locally, it has been difficult to find great equipment for this type of dog training. I’ve even encountered a pet shop or two in my area that won’t sell pinch collars. Pinch collars certainly invite their share of debate; I happen to be a fan of one used correctly and don’t know how I’d keep my sanity without one. I eventually paid up for a well-made stainless steel Herm Sprenger pinch collar because it is used every day no matter the weather, and I know it will last for a long time. While I did locate one place near me that sells Sprenger collars, they didn’t sell the stainless ones, so I’ve spent a lot of time scouring every corner of the internet. There are a ton of sites other than the ones I’ve mentioned above; those just happen to be ones I’ve had personal dealings with and can speak about.