1: DOG TRANSPORT
I have always recommended Lintran as the dog transport box of choice because in my book they’re probably the best on the market.
I’ve bought Lintran boxes for more years than I care to remember and while I’ve tried other makes they haven’t quite managed to match the other’s quality.
They make a vast array of sizes and shapes to fit just about any vehicle you can think of.
They even supply ultra sturdy dog trailers to the owner’s specification.
2: WATER BOWLS
As far as I’m concerned you can never have too many drinking bowls around the place – just like socks they keep disappearing into thin air for no apparent reason.
They also get chewed by puppies.
Everyone needs a suitable water bowl to take to keep a dog hydrated during a car journey and suitable receptacles come in all shapes and sizes.
However, a non-spill version is an absolute must in my book!
If you hadn’t already noticed there’s a vast array of dog whistles out there to choose ranging from the all-metal silent type through to stag horn jobbies finishing up with the large and loud plastic Thunderer.
My choice of the lot is the ACME 211 1/2 without a pea.
It’s easy to blow and you can dribble into it like a baby – yet it always hits the same pitch regardless.
You can lose it or bite the end of it in frustration when a dog ignores your commands but this whistle can be replaced easily with one of the same tone.
The same can’t be said of fancy stag horn replacements – trying to find one that’s the same as the one you’ve lost can often prove an impossible task.
Best tip is to buy three or four whistles and spread them around the place – including your car – so that one’s always within reach.
For every whistle you own you really need a lanyard to hang it from and I get mine from Quest Gundog Training Equipment.
You can take your pick from a simple lanyard made from boot lace right up to very flashy braided leather types – it all depends on your preference and budget.
I’m more than happy with the cheaper lace variety!
If, like me, you use a lead constantly then a harsh rope leash soon makes your hands uncomfortably sore.
To avoid this I always use leashes made from soft climbing rope which, again, I buy from Quest, but others make and sell them as well.
Shop around for the best price and also think about buying leads in bright colours – they’re harder to lose if you drop them into grass.
One of the best dummies for general training has got to be that sold by the Working Dog Company – it’s shaped like a rugby ball and comes in a range of sizes to suit the age, and breed, of dog.
These cleverly designed balls are different not only in their shape but also in their feel, being softer than the traditional sawdust filled variety.
The way they roll and bounce when thrown also brings a number of advantages.
Don’t forget as well that tennis balls are also brilliant training aids and most gundog training equipment suppliers will stock them.
7: STARTER PISTOLS
These vary in price from reasonable to the downright extortionate so if you are thinking of buying at the Game Fair my advice would be to check the costs out first on the web, then take a good look around the stands and see what deals you can do.
I don’t mind admitting that we tend to use the cheapest revolving type of starter pistol because we get through several each year and the cost of replacement is then not too high.
You will need .22 blanks for whatever pistol you buy – several tubs of the really short blanks and a few of the longer ones will be ideal.
8: DUMMY BAG
Dog training is made much easier if you wear a waistcoat sporting a large pocket in the back to hold the dummies.
My favourite is the Musto Retriever Vest.
You can get away with using a shoulder bag to carry all the retrieving paraphernalia you need but sometimes, as you lean forward, it can swing round frightening a young dog.
If you do prefer the bag option then a medium size soft lightweight bag – available from Quest – is perfectly adequate for most situations.
9: DUMMY LAUNCHER
For advance dog training you might find that a Dummy Launcher is what you need for creating longer retrieves and getting the dog used to sitting to shot.
I would not use one now without a stock attached and the best ones I have found so far also come from Quest – the one they sell is simplicity itself to use, the extraction mechanism is spot on – as too are the shape of the dummies it fires.
10: PET INSURANCE
Veterinary treatment can prove hugely expensive, especially if surgery is required so it makes sense to get your dog covered with a suitable insurance policy, just in case.
Trouble is, there are lots of different policies on offer and picking the right one can often prove difficult.
So what’s needed is proper advice, take your time and shop around to find the policy that’s best for you – and your dogs!