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Birch's guide to Gundog training essentials!

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

By Abigale Heard @Bodhi&theBirchtree


Since welcoming my Working Golden Retriever puppy Birch into my life almost a year ago, I’ve used a range of different training tools and dummies - Birch lives to retrieve and would pick up anything if you asked him to! However I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of our essentials when it comes to training.


First off - a whistle. This is my most essential item for when I leave the house with Birch, even when we’re not going training. Although he does also recall verbally, I think I would feel naked without my whistle! Even when we’re not training I use the whistle throughout our walks to keep him beside me and to keep his brain working. I use an Acme 210.5 as my go to whistle, and just recently bought an Acme 211 for when I send Birch on a longer retrieve so that he can hear me more clearly. For retrieving breeds who will often be a long distance from your side, a 211 whistle is easier for them to hear. Both of these whistles alongside their lanyards can be found in an array of colours on the ADW website (you can use our code, EXPLORERS10, for 10% off your order).


Our slip lead is a must have. When training, Birch only wears a slip lead and no collar as he’s often working through thick cover and I don’t want him getting caught and hurting himself. Plus, the slip leads makes it really easy to whip his lead on and off quickly when working alongside other people and dogs. My go to is the field and trial slip lead, just out of personal preference, which can be found on the ADW website alongside lots of other slip lead options, including customisable slip leads.


When it comes to dummies, we tend to stick to the 1lb endless dummies. As Birch is still a pretty immature puppy, he would often try to play with the toggles or hold the dummies by the toggles as he was bringing them to me. Endless dummies do not have toggles, so they’re pretty perfect for us to teach him how to carry a dummy properly.



Every so often I’ll bring out our rabbit dummy, Birch’s favourite thing in the entire world! Rabbit dummies are perfect for getting your dog used to the texture of fur, and I’ve found

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what's the best gundog equipment

them great for teaching Birch how I want him to behave when picking up game. The last thing I want is for him to not be accustomed to the feeling of picking up feathers or fur and for him to one day soon pick up the real thing and play around with it! By using the rabbit dummy he has grown accustomed to fur and knows its no longer novel to him - although he does love it!

Next up are rabbit balls! I often carry these around with me as a reward for Birch. If he’s done super well when training I will throw him his rabbit ball as a reward as, as previously mentioned, he loves anything rabbit! These are also both available at ADW.




Another great dummy is our sporting saint water dummy, which is plastic and has little knobbles on it which makes it easier for dogs to pick up when in the water. Birch has never really been a water kind of guy up until now, but now he loves it I can’t get him out! His water dummy is perfect and lightweight for taking out and about and getting him used to retrieving in the water.


Finally, we just recently bought the pheasant feather dummy wrap. Although we haven’t tried it out yet, I bought it with the intention of introducing Birch to feathers - something we haven’t done yet. This will be great for getting him accustomed to game so that when he’s out working he will be completely used to the feeling.

And lastly, I use my dummy vest to carry all of this kit around in, it gets pretty heavy after a while! I use the Firedog dummy vest in Khaki and I wouldn’t be without it. As far as dummy vests go I think its pretty fashionable, and it has lots of side pockets alongside the big pocket along the back. It has plenty of space for everything I need to carry and more.


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I hope you found this guide helpful! Take a look on the ADW website to grab the essentials highlighted above, and give us a follow @thescottishexplorers if you’re interested in watching Birch’s Gundog training journey!


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