No matter the name you prefer, whether it's hunting dog, bird dog, or gun dog, the equipment options for dog training and safety have gone from a cottage industry to a full-blown dream for those of us that want the best for our four-legged hunting partner. In a never ending push to give us the best options to both train and watch over our working canines, manufacturers have presented us with a bounty of choices. Now you have a plethora of ways to initiate training for a young pup, or just find a piece of gear that will make a dog more comfortable. As much as we would like to have it all, we can certainly understand the need of each hunter as an individual dog owner. In this way, we'll suggest some gun dog training gear as well as some equipment that a veteran dog can benefit from, too.
Initial Gun Dog Gear Needs
Even though it is common knowledge, obedience training is where all gun dogs need to begin, and for obedience you will need a specific set of tools. We won't get into suggestions for the proper collar, leash, or training treats, but count on your pup having his or her best paw forward before becoming a solid hunting dog. After obedience is achieved, you can begin working towards a properly trained hunting partner. Things like check cords and electronic collars, training wings, bumpers (or dummies), and vests can really add a lot to you and your gun dog's experience.
It's the bonds and the trusted relationships we build with young dogs in these periods that set the foundation for a finished bird dog of the future; one that commands his or her own respect and is worthy of your hard-earned money. Sure, some of the best gun dog gear isn't cheap, but neither was that new truck. These gun dog gear suggestions are things you may not have considered or even heard of, and can increase productivity when you and your dog are in training mode.
ConQuest Bird Down Training Scent
If you've ever had a gun dog, then you've had gun dog training scents, and everything ringneck pheasant is a key factor in dog training. This made-in-the-U.S.A. scent is as easy to use as it is to get your dog familiar with the bird itself, and it won't break your wallet. Conquest scents don't spill, leak, or make a mess even in hot temperatures leaving your dog free to find it.
The wing-on-a-string technique is a standard for gun dog training a pup for many years, and pheasant feathers might just be the best thing to use. These all-natural pheasant tails have no chemical treatment and can be easily used with your favorite added scent, such as the aforementioned Bird Down brand. Since you get five per bag, they will last for many training sessions before they wear out.
Aa good training whistle is a good idea, and having one that stands out is well worth it. This option from SportDOG is super easy to use and has no pea, so it will not freeze in the winter. The blaze orange color helps in case you drop it in the field , and it should last years and years. SportDOG even claims it has "been used to train more Field Champions than any other whistle." Now that's saying something!
There are so many good choices for a field dog guide manual that it can be difficult to choose at times, but this one by experienced dog trainer Richard A. Wolters is one of the best. To some it might seem like an older and classical way of training a retriever, but it includes a very effective methodology. Wolters is also the author of such guides as Water Dog, Gun Dog, and Family Dog.
Field Dog First Aid Kit
What could be more important to have with you and your hunting companion out in the field than a good quality canine first aid kit? This pouch is easily packed into or attached to a bag or vest, and can be vitally important in an emergency. It includes gauze, scissors, aspirin, antihistamine, and even honey, but it also comes with a disposable skin stapler for serious injuries caused by barbed wire and the like. Any dog owner who takes their canine hunting should carry a first aid kit that's customized to their dog, no questions asked.
Gear for the More Established Gun Dog
Obviously, not every field dog is at the same level of training. Even though some hunting dogs are more polished or "finished," there's still reason to consider new equipment and a higher level of gear. Here are some suggestions for that category.
Tactical Dog Harness
For those who have a hard-driving field dog or just want to keep them extra protected, a tactical harness such as this one from BarkBay can be the difference between an injury or none at all. It comes in four different color patterns including camo, is incredibly abrasion resistant, and has plenty of MOLLE attachment points and hook and loop panels. It comes in a few sizes, so whether you've got a beagle or a Chesapeake Bay retriever, you'll find something that fits.
Having the ability to track and locate your dog in the field has been a great desire since the first hound got lost in the woods for a night. The importance of a beeper collar can't be understated. The Dogtra STB has both run and point mode to let you know whether he or she is moving or locked onto a bird. This unit also has a rechargeable battery for convenience, too. It's another one of those safety measures that argues the idea that, if they've gone to the trouble to design something so helpful, you might as well use it.
A standard neoprene vest is a must for many waterfowl hunters that routinely hunt into the winter. In extreme conditions, even the oily-coated dog breeds sometimes need that extra protection against the elements. This trusty model from Cabela's Northern Flight brand has adjustable hook-and-loop points, so you'll never worry about it getting loose. The top zipper makes for quick on and off changes. There are also two built-in floatation pads to aid buoyancy, plus an abrasion resistant bottom and a camo pattern to round out the preferred features.
You used to use an old bedsheet to cover your carseat, didn't you? But that barely did the job. The proper way to protect your seats once your day is over and your field dog needs to rest is one of these modern covers that deter against moisture, odor, hair, drool, you name it. This version from KIMHY has everything you need and more: great seat coverage, a soft, padded cover, a cool camo pattern, and both front-seat back and back-seat back protection from hair and mud. It even covers the doors and the sides of the seat.
Soft-Sided Travel Bowl Kit
Your field dog gear wouldn't be complete without a proper way to water or feed your dog in the field or on the way home. You likely already know that, but did you know you can get a collapsible set that is easy to stash away until needed? This system is perfect for large or small breeds, is eco-friendly, non-toxic and even comes with a carabiner clip to keep it handy wherever you go.
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