We don’t do a lot of gear reviews on Iowa Slam. We aren’t sexy enough on Instagram for companies to send us anything. I think Harrison posted one bikini pic, and our account was placed on probation. Our website focuses on hunters that want to use their time and money as efficiently as possible. This blog lists a few tools for dog training and what I like about each. Let me know if you have any products you can’t live without. Thank you for reading.
In the field you’ll likely use a whistle more than your voice to communicate with your dog. Buy a quality whistle with a clean sound. I have used the SportDOG Roy Gonia whistle without the pea. The pea will make the whistle louder but not quite as crisp. If you plan to run longer retrieves or to use pointers, more volume will be beneficial. When I lost my SportDOG whistle last fall, I bought a cheap replacement at Walmart. It was tough to make consistent sounds especially for commands that needed multiple blasts. Buy a whistle specifically made for dog training.
I like the rubber Avery HexaBumpers because they come in three different colors, and the throw ropes easily detach. I work alone with my dog most of the time, and throw ropes help for getting better distance. If you have issues with your dog carrying the bumper by the throw rope you can just untie the knot and remove it. For easier retrieves I use the white bumpers, and for more challenging drills and doubles I throw orange bumpers. They work awesome on land and water and last forever.
Cloth dummies get covered in slobber from the dog and dew from the grass. However, I like working with cloth when I want to attach wings. Zip tying wings onto the dummy makes it more life-like, and a young dog will have a hard time ripping them off :).
Wings have been my secret weapon when training gets monotonous. In the summertime, when I do a lot of repetition work, I’ll put wings on one dummy. It adds a much need jolt of energy to my dog. Also, try throwing wings in tall grass and giving your dog the “find it” command.
Just like socializing your dog by taking it everywhere, get your dog to retrieve a few different types of wings. Try to get your hands on feathers from ducks and quail. Harrison’s breeder keeps goose wings and tosses them for pups. I used exclusively pheasant wings with Nali when she was young, and she pheasant hunts well. As for quail and ducks, she gets more tentative. Each dog will respond differently, so don’t stress if you can’t find a variety. At the very least buy some pheasant wings.
I am investing in a better check cord from SportDOG this year and getting one for Waylon too. I wish I would have done it sooner. You want to buy something a little thicker that doesn’t have a loop on the end that will get caught in the grass. I used paracord with Nali. When she would pull hard the paracord would cut into my hands. It adds insult to injury when a misbehaving dog gives you a rope burn.
As far as brands, SportDOG has been great for me, and Max has had good luck with his Garmin collars. More importantly, match your collar to the style of hunting you do. If you plan to run pointers, make sure you buy a collar with good range. For labs, waterproofing is important. I would recommend getting something that has tone, vibrate and shock options. I use vibrate more than anything else. Also consider settings for multiple dogs.
I hope these tips make your training go more smoothly. Obviously different training practices work for different dogs. Read and watch everything you can. Good Luck, Stu