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Dog Training: Expensive Gear Isn't Necessary, But It Can Be Fun

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April 08, 2011

Dog Training: Expensive Gear Isn't Necessary, But It Can Be Fun

By Chad Love

I was recently throwing some water marks for my dog at a local city park pond when an angler from across the pond (it was a large pond and I was in a small neck, so I wasn't disturbing anyone) got curious, wandered over and struck up a conversation. We chatted for a minute or two, I explained what I was doing and he asked me what, exactly, was that thing I was using to throw my bumpers?

That "thing" was a remote bumper launcher. I've had mine for years and it's one of my favorite retriever training tools. I showed him how it worked and he seemed genuinely curious. Turns out the guy was a casual dove hunter, he had a lab and had always sort of wanted to train him. He then asked me how much something like that would cost, and when I told him, he gave me an incredulous look, sputtered "you're kidding?" shook his head and went back to fishing.

And that got me to thinking that dog-training, just like bass fishing, flyfishing or big-game hunting, can be as cheap or expensive as you want to make it.

For the most part, it isn't a terribly gear-intensive activity. Whistles, check cords, leads, bumpers, birds, patience and time. You can train a dog, whether a pointing dog, flusher or retriever, to a pretty high level with the basics. But just like anything else, once you get hooked and get evermore involved, you start casting covetous glances at the more specialized--and expensive--gear that most pro and and advanced amateur trainers use. Things like e-collars, bumper launchers, wingers, bird launchers and the electronics to run them; all these things help make training easier, faster and more effective. And they work splendidly. But there's a price. No, literally, there's a price...

If you haven't priced some of the more advanced training aids out there you might be in for some sticker shock, and whether it's worth it to you depends, of course, on how you view dog training. Do you see training as simply a means to an end (a trained hunting dog) and don’t have much interest in training for its own intrinsic rewards? Or do you train almost year-round because you get almost as much enjoyment out of training as you do the hunting?

If you're the former then perhaps the cash outlay for advanced training gear might be better served elsewhere, perhaps a pro trainer. But if you're the latter, if you end up falling down that rabbit-hole into the "enthusiast" category, then I guess spending a few hundred bucks on launchers, electronics and e-collars sounds perfectly reasonable.

What's your most expensive piece of training gear?

Comments (8)

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from dighunter wrote 3 years 1 week ago

E-collar for trash breaking my hounds. It's worth its weight in gold just to not have to chase them down when on a deer or coyote track.

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from uplander12 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

E-Collar. Wouldn't think about training without it.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 3 years 1 week ago

My dogs cost me $525 together (though not bought together). I bought two camo collars (one Remington and one Winchester - to be non-partial) and one neoprene vest that I don't think would fit either one any more. I also bought them each a compression collar. That was money well-spent. The remote launcher would be fun and I believe I could build one of those fairly easily using an old clay pigeon thrower and remote control model car. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I don't go in for a lot of technocrap because I like to travel light when I'm hunting. Also, I'm just not into the competition thing. Been to some field trials and really got turned off with the attitude of many of the handlers. Probably shouldn't let a couple of sour apples ruin the barrel.

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from johntalbott wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Im in law school, so I generally go the cheap route. But I'm gonna buy an e-collar this summer, I've seen too many positive results with friends dogs to continue training without one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beauregard wrote 3 years 1 week ago

My most expensive piece of equipment is an e-collar. I went 18 months without and have seen positive results in 2 months with. Most of my training was done without the collar, but it has really come in handy in tightening up my dog's loopy/lazy SIT.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 3 years 1 week ago

e-collars are well worth the money and you don't need the most expensive one either.

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from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 1 week ago

It would have to be my Sport Dog E-Collar. Birds would be the second most expensive training aid, and when you consider the maintenance of them the birds are probably the most expensive. After all the Sport Dog is 22 months and going strong...none of the birds are more than 7 months. Of course the bird launcher (I am a tight butt so I have the manual one) was under a C-note but just barely I think. The Garmin Astro is hunting gear. The most important training aid is the whistle and bumper.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deerslayer1252338 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

hey you seem to be the gear man and intelligent so how do i train a dog who is scared of thunder. noor will she fetch. she wasn't born scared our other dog died in a tornado so she thinks thunder is bad.

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from deerslayer1252338 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

hey you seem to be the gear man and intelligent so how do i train a dog who is scared of thunder. noor will she fetch. she wasn't born scared our other dog died in a tornado so she thinks thunder is bad.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dighunter wrote 3 years 1 week ago

E-collar for trash breaking my hounds. It's worth its weight in gold just to not have to chase them down when on a deer or coyote track.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from uplander12 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

E-Collar. Wouldn't think about training without it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 3 years 1 week ago

My dogs cost me $525 together (though not bought together). I bought two camo collars (one Remington and one Winchester - to be non-partial) and one neoprene vest that I don't think would fit either one any more. I also bought them each a compression collar. That was money well-spent. The remote launcher would be fun and I believe I could build one of those fairly easily using an old clay pigeon thrower and remote control model car. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I don't go in for a lot of technocrap because I like to travel light when I'm hunting. Also, I'm just not into the competition thing. Been to some field trials and really got turned off with the attitude of many of the handlers. Probably shouldn't let a couple of sour apples ruin the barrel.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from johntalbott wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Im in law school, so I generally go the cheap route. But I'm gonna buy an e-collar this summer, I've seen too many positive results with friends dogs to continue training without one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beauregard wrote 3 years 1 week ago

My most expensive piece of equipment is an e-collar. I went 18 months without and have seen positive results in 2 months with. Most of my training was done without the collar, but it has really come in handy in tightening up my dog's loopy/lazy SIT.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 3 years 1 week ago

e-collars are well worth the money and you don't need the most expensive one either.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 1 week ago

It would have to be my Sport Dog E-Collar. Birds would be the second most expensive training aid, and when you consider the maintenance of them the birds are probably the most expensive. After all the Sport Dog is 22 months and going strong...none of the birds are more than 7 months. Of course the bird launcher (I am a tight butt so I have the manual one) was under a C-note but just barely I think. The Garmin Astro is hunting gear. The most important training aid is the whistle and bumper.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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