When training a gundog there are some basic tools which should be a part of the trainers repertoire. First and foremost a good leash is indispensable. The ideal all around leash needs to be at least six feet long and made of leather. The snap on the end needs to be brass or other metal. If you have a pup that is a chewer, the leash can be of nylon braid at first, but in the end you will want to have a leather leash for durability over the years and for the flexibility it gives to the training process, allowing for just enough “give and take” that the signals you give to the dog can travel easily through the leather.
The collar should always be worn by the dog when outdoors for identification purposes. This should be a good leather buckle collar on which he can wear his tags and which will not slip off should he become lost. There are three basic collar types. The heavy coated dogs do well with the rolled leather collar which will not tangle amongst the long hairs on the neck. The short coated breeds need a flat collar about an inch wide, this type of collar will not slip off as easily as a narrow collar. And lastly the training collar, which is either a choke collar or a pronged collar, is the collar that should be used only during the training of the dog. Added to that of course are several different varieties of electronic training collars which serve several different purposes. But for basic training the collars mentioned previously are most necessary.
The whistle is another necessity. The ordinary police type whistle is the most preferred. Silent whistles are not to be used, regardless. A gundog trainer uses a variety of different whistles and trills and if he is using a silent whistle he can not determine what he is conveying to the dog, since he cant hear the whistle himself! Of course, a trainer who can whistle on his own talent does not need to have an extra man made whistle, but since one can not always guarantee that his own ability will work, it is best to train from the beginning with a man made whistle.
The gundog can not be successfully trained without a blank cartridge gun. The most common type is the .22 caliber. The gun is used to accustom the dog to the noise of the gun associated with hunting. It should be a revolver rather than an automatic.
The dog bell is actually not a training device but is necessary for the hunter or trainer to keep track of the dog in heavy cover. For Pointing dogs the bell has an extra value….when the noise stops, the dog is on point.
The flushing whip is specifically used during field trials and training for the usual purpose of flushing out the birds in heavy cover. The standard flushing whip is about 20 to 36 inches long and is made of leather surrounding a flexible spring which is at least two thirds the length of the whip. Usually the flushing whip has a snap on the end so that the trainer can attach it to his clothing or gear. It can also be used as a correction tool in the sense that it can be used to snap for gaining the attention of the dog or to encourage him to sit or to come to heel by brushing it against the dogs body. It should never be used to physically “beat” the dog. Not only is it not made for that purpose but there are much better and less cruel methods of conveying correction than beating the dog.
The training dummies are also important in field training a retriever. Most are of the heavy duty canvas type and often are the type that can float. The dummies can be impregnated with bird scent or can have feathers attached. They are used for teaching the dog to retrieve and should be soft enough that they resemble the softness of the body of a bird. They come in many sizes for small and larger dogs. Most are made with a rope attached for easy throwing and retrievability.
There are many other articles for training which the modern hunter has access to but the ones mentioned are the old favorites and are the most useful and basic necessary tools for training a gundog.