What’s in my training bag and why…
With so many shapes, sizes and colours of dummies out there, what do I choose to keep in my training kit and why do I rate it?
On my gundog classes and 1-2-1s, I bring a variety of Paws@brooklyn dummies and equipment for handlers to try so that they can see which their dog needs or perhaps prefers.
Let’s start with younger dogs, the three options I carry for younger dogs are from lightest to heaviest.
The puppy dummy, this is a small dummy filled with wadding and is almost weightless. This is the first thing we try for any puppy under 6 months of age. This is easy for pups to carry and is a great confidence builder when we are doing some easy informal retrieves.
For larger or older puppies, I will either use my D&F Original clone snipe dummy or my 3 piece dummy. My preference is usually towards the 3-piece dummy as it is nice and light but will also encourage the puppy to get a nice middle hold whilst retrieving. As they may pick this up from either end then realise it is easier to carry it properly. I would only use a weighted dummy on a very confident pup or younger dog to ensure they get success in those first few retrieves.
The snipe dummy is also ideal as it is lightweight and very easy to carry at 100g. This dummy is designed to have a level of camouflage as it is a feathered pattern. However, I find for young dogs in training its more about gaining confidence rather than having them hunt for the item. I keep puppy retrieves very small and simple so it is unlikely that colour or pattern will have an effect at this stage.
In between this stage and the next I tend to only use very light items if we are training for a better delivery.
For dogs that are confident with retrieves and need something to test them a little more I will usually use my set of ½ canvas dummies. This is just to add an element of weight, as if the dog will be picking up in the field depending on the game, they can be very heavy. It’s important to add weight slowly to training so as not to knock your dog’s confidence.
For older dogs looking to increase the weight, we would then move onto 1lb (500g) dummies, I like the Firedog dummies as they float on water. I use these dummies to prepare Thorn for some test days we attend, where I knew the dummies would be 1lb in weight. I also use these for water retrieves as they are big enough to not get lost but also easy to move in the water.
If your dog is yet to pick game or is inexperienced and often picks by a foot, wing or head the Firedog Flying Duck Dummy is for you. I am really impressed with the quality of this dummy and it’s great for teaching a good body hold to your dog. The long chord also allows for a nice far throw.
Once you have your dog picking the right part of the bird it’s then a good idea to move onto some fur or feather. I carry around 4 rabbit balls and a cock pheasant pelt that I will attach to either the half or pound dummies. Proper introduction to feather and fur is essential so make sure you have a good gentle and generalised hold first.
In total the contents of my training bag are as follows…
- Firedog Field Trial Slip lead
- Starting Pistol and Blanks
- 2 x 1lb Firedog Dummies
- 2 x 1/2lb Canvas Dummies
- 4 x Rabbit Balls
- 1 x Cock Pheasant Pelt
- 1 x 3-piece dummy
- 1 x 100g Dog and Field Snipe Dummy
- 1 x Puppy Dummy
- 1 x Firedog Flying Duck Dummy
With this combination of equipment, I always have the right dummy for the occasion.
Let us know your favourite dummy in the comments. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask either myself or paws@brooklyn.
Lydia and Thorn
Tenderleigh Dog Training
All products are available via paws@brooklyn website x