Dog Training Gear
By Chris Larsen
A builder wouldn’t think about building a house without the right tools. Hammers, saws, tape measures, you name it. Proper tools are needed to do the job correctly. Building a great hunting dog is similar. You must start with a solid foundation. But without the right tools you will end up with a sloppy looking end product.
One of the simplest, yet important tools needed for effective dog training is a lead. Professional dog trainer Bruce Kapanke suggests having leads of different lengths. He starts with a six footer for transferring the dog from crate to field and for up close work. But Kapanke also carries a ten and fifteen foot ropes. He sees a lot of amateur dog trainers use ropes that are too long. “You want to avoid the tumbled fifty foot length. This is only going to cause you trouble and grief. Keep the distances short.”
For communicating with your dog, Kapanke recommends using a whistle. He carries two different whistles on his lanyard. He uses his Gonia whistle for short range work and a Fox 40 as his long range whistle. He calls whistles “impartial communicators”. It is not the tone of the whistle that makes the dog determine what you want, it is the sequence of the whistle. When dog training newcomers use only their voice as a communication device dogs will often decide what to do based on the tone of voice. The whistle eliminates this issue.
E-collars are used by most dog trainers. Kapanke says most leading manufacturer’s units are built sturdy enough for most trainer’s personal use. When buying an e-collar look for a wide variety of functions including warning tones, buzz, momentary stimulation, and continuous stimulation. Variable stimulation intensity is another key feature. A Labrador retriever can take a lot more punishment than a German shorthair. Kapanke says you want to use the least amount of force to get the job done. Over stimulation can ruin a gun dog. “If momentary stimulation isn’t getting the job done, you probably don’t have the proper building blocks in place yet.” says Kapanke.
Retrieving dummies are another important tool in a dog trainer’s arsenal. There are canvas dummies and large, heavy plastic ones. Some trainers like to use bird shaped dummies. Kapanke says it really doesn’t matter. “You want something the dog can grasp and carry.”
A training pistol will also be needed at some point in a gun dog’s development. Kapanke says you won’t need it a lot, so often times new dog trainers can borrow one. Less expensive training pistols can make a good bang. However, if you plan on being in the training game for very long, Kapanke recommends investing in a high quality one.
Going back to the house analogy, many apprentice builders only have a few tools. It takes years to get all the tools needed to build a house. Most new dog trainers can’t buy everything at once either. Get the equipment you need to get started, then add to your tool chest as you and your dog progress.