Spring is in the air and if you’re spending half the time thinking about turkey season, the other half is probably spent thinking about spring training. Plus, if you’re like me, then you want to be as prepared as possible with the most effective gear to help with your gun dog training. Because of that, I put together a gear guide for anyone looking to boost their spring training this season.
One question I always receive is what kind of bumpers do I prefer to use when training. If you’re going to invest in bumpers, I’d highly suggest purchasing three-inch bumpers: 6 black and white for marks and 6 orange for blinds. I prefer the three-inch bumpers because they’re easier to see at a distance. Plus, they’re closest in size to carrying a real duck!
Adding realistic scenarios to training is extremely important when preparing your dog, so it’s great to incorporate a dog stand. Personally, I keep a Momarsh Final Stand in the dog trailer so each dog is accustomed to working from a dog stand, as they might in the field. After trying several dog stands, I’ve found this to be the most durable and steady stand currently available, no matter what breed of dog is perched on top.
Pro Tip: Live birds are ideal for teaching your dog. You can order various species of game birds from this website and add more realism to your training.
Most people train their dog by themselves and that means they’re throwing bumpers from their side, which can limit how far the dog gets to retrieve. If you’re constantly tossing bumpers from your side, rather than having your dog look out and see it fall from a longer distance, the dog will likely break down early and begin hunting for the bumper around 35-40 yards because it only gets retrieves from that distance.
How do we fix this: the Zinger Winger. These handy training tools slingshot bumpers, birds or dokkens into the air using a remote control so you can time your mark. You can also get Thunder Launchers, but I prefer Wingers because then I’m not limited to only throwing bumpers.
While some trainers choose not to use an e collar system for various reasons, I find them to be an invaluable training tool, if used properly. Personally, I’ve used Dogtra collars for over a decade now and they’re extremely reliable. They’re easy to use and the level of stimulation used to which you correct the dog can be scaled. Since every dog is different, the ability to change their stimulation levels while knowing that the stimulation will be precise each time, is ideal.
Pro Tip: Sportdog has a pealess whistle that’s ideal for training because it doesn’t freeze in extreme weather.
These are super helpful during training and you can even make a steady tab at home. Steady tabs are six inch leashes meant to be a handle in case the dog breaks after a mark is thrown. Why can’t you just hold their collar? Because you want them to be patient and if they feel like you’re holding them back, they’ll lean into it and want to pull even more. So, holding a loose steady tab attached to the dog’s collar is extremely helpful, especially when training a younger or inexperienced dog.
Many people forget these when training their dog because it’s one more item to buy, but I’d highly recommend one to anyone who is serious about gun dog training. Primer pistols can help to properly introduce your dog to gunfire but also help add realism to a training scenario.
Ultimately, the best gear you can have ready for spring training is a well-defined plan that you’re committed to (it’s even free!). Every single dog is unique and therefore, requires a unique training plan. Use your plan to build confidence through positive experiences with your dog and slowly build your pile of training gear over time.
Last but not least, a sturdy, safe kennel is ideal for any dog. In fact, you should choose the safest dog kennel for your truck, which is why I always recommend these dog kennels for my clients. Since the kennels are double-wall rotomolded, I feel comfortable putting my dog inside them when I’m traveling, whether it be a short ride to the vet or a long haul down the east coast.
Bob Owens from Lone Duck Outfitters & Kennels
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