Eight Must-Have Tools for Training Your Hunting Dog

By Scott Linden • February 08, 2023

So, you wanna train a bird dog? Get out your check book.

Trust me, the price of the pup is the least of your concerns. Not to say you shouldn’t start with the best breeding you can afford, but it’s the other stuff that will get you in the wallet. Take my word for it, this gear will make bringing up your own pup a lot easier, turning him into a bird-finding machine. I can’t say the same for your shooting ability.

You can save up all your cans and bottles for a lifetime, spend every cent on dog-training, and never exhaust the supply of gadgets and gewgaws that may – or may not – help you train your dog. (Though emptying those cans and bottles may help you cope on the “bad days.”) Some things are specialized, some are useful, others will gather dust in your closet.

Here is my short list of essential, labor-saving, headache-avoiding, puppy-training gear. Have all of these on hand from Day One, and both of you will start off on the right paw:

  • A training table saves your back and makes pup a little nervous--and more likely to pay attention to you.
  • A crate is where pup should sleep, eat, and spend time when you need a break … in addition to all travel.
  • A tie-out stake teaches pup to yield to the collar, comes in handy when teaching whoa and heel. It’s also a safe place to put pup when training his runnin’ buddy, or you’ve got your hands full elsewhere.
  • A check cord ensures that every command will be instantly obeyed at a distance.
  • A GPS collar for pointing breeds may be spendy, but the peace of mind is priceless.
  • Save your voice for campfire conversation. Teach pup to respond to your whistle for long-distance commands.
  • Buy a membership to a dog-training club so you’ll have supportive friends and reasons to train.
  • And he’s called a “bird dog” for a reason. The best dog trainer isn’t human, it’s got wings. Find a reliable source of training birds or raise your own.

From the very first day of training, the above gear should get you by, covering most commands and skills. Later in a dog’s career, you will add other stuff such as: bird launchers, decoys, retrieving bumpers, blank pistols, waders, more collars, pigeon loft, more shotguns, dog treats, bird bags and boxes, vests and bags and ultimately a new truck to carry it all. So, ask the boss for a raise, sell that boat and get to trainin’!

--Scott Linden