Lorken Farms, Labrador Retrievers, Fremont, WI 

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From the June 2002 American Kennel web page http://www.akc.org/dic/events/perform/narc02.cfm?page=12

Lorken's Emma Good is featured below training with bumpers.


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Field Training can start out with a few bumpers, a whistle, and a leash. But if one stays in the sport, a great amount of equipment is accumulated.


Vehicles suitable to carry the dogs to the training or testing grounds are important. While one might start out with just their normal car and a crate for the dog, typically one vehicle at a house ends up being just for dog training. A van can carry several dogs and a great deal of equipment. Some people go to dog boxes on trucks that are either mounted on the bed or chassis mounted.

A full sized van with dog crates in the back

A row of various types of vehicles at a training day

A Professional truck with trailer that can carry from 24 to 30 dogs


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Leashes typically include three lengths --- 15-30 feet long for Basics training, a six foot leash, and a four to six inch tab. It is useful to have some bright colors so they can easily be found when dropped on the ground. Note that there are not loops or knots in any of them that might get caught on cover and distract the dog. The shortest are used when transitioning to steadiness when the dog is running in heavier cover or water.

Three leashes for Basic and Transition training


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Three colors of bumpers in two sizes. Note that the colored ropes for throwing make them easy to sort and get back to the right owner at the end of a training day.

Sommit's Windstorm Express call name Coal holds a bumper correctly.

Bumpers of various colors and two different thicknesses are needed. White is used to start out. Black bumpers are added later for use in varying backgrounds. Orange is only used for blinds since dogs have difficulty seeing them.

Lorken Retriever's Emma bringing back a bumper from a blind.


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Remote Throwers: For the amateur training alone, there are a variety of remote throwers. A remote thrower will replace a human out at a station. They operate off electronic releases so the handler can, in effect, have a mark thrown as if a bird boy was out in the field. There are single ones such as manufactured by Lucyana Retrievers, Zinger Winger, and Dogs A Field Shure Flights. Some throw multiple times without re-loading, such as Etch-marc for the trainer that has several dogs and does not want to go out to re-load between dogs.

Some remote throwers such as the Tangelo Tosser need a person out in the field. The advantage of using them is that the throws can be very consistent - especially for someone that has problems getting good height and distance. Most of both the electronic and hand release types are easily carried in a van or truck.

Five bumpers in varying black and white combinations can be thrown with a Max5000. The chair has a coat on it to simulate a bird boy being at the station. Bumpers can easily have bird wings added to them. Streamers on them aide in visibility during the arc of the throw.


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Guns: Starter pistols are used to simulate gun fire. Blank ammunition is used. In some cases shot guns are used with popper shells. In both cases, all gun safety use rules are carefully followed since even blank ammunition can be dangerous.

Whistles: There are a variety of whistles used. Most people eventually use a Gonia mega-whistle. The reason that a mega whistle is preferred by most is that it directs the sound away from the handler's ears. More dog trainers go deaf from whistles than from gun noise. The shape also sends the sound out more efficiently.

A mega whistle has a regular whistle in it. The gun does not have an open bore and cannot be used with real ammunition.


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Clothes: Rain gear, warm clothing, light clothing for hot days, hats to shade eyes, gloves, boots, and sturdy shoes are all a must to carry out to training.


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Electronic Collars, when used correctly, are a great advantage in today's field training. An electric collar is, for all practical purposes, an invisible leash. Using one allows the handler to have excellent timing in communicating with their dog. Since the dog is at a distance, it is the best way to communicate with good timing. This approach is far better than the old fashioned ways of training that required the handler to run out into the field to communicate with the dog. Good timing allows the dog to have a better understanding of what is expected. Careful timing of both praise and corrections is critical in all dog training.

The correct use of electric collars has enabled sensitive dogs to be trained. Some of the most well known successful dogs are sensitive although they have high retrieving desire.

Two samples of electronic collars and transmitters. The added bright colored tape and straps aides in sorting out what collar belongs to what transmitter and helps to find them when accidentally dropped.

An e-collar has two parts: A light weight receiver on a collar and the handler has a transmitter with adjustable levels. The levels go from a momentary fraction of a second at a level so low that it can barely be detected to higher levels that will communicate when the dog is at a distance and being highly distracted by various factors.

In correct, up-to-date use, an e-collar is never used for teaching but only to strengthen behaviors already taught. Modern trainers do not use it when a dog simply makes a mistake or is confused, but only when the dog is not making an effort for something it clearly knows what to do. It is highly recommended that before any use that new people seek careful education before trying it out. Learning proper techniques first is true of any dog training --- one should learn guidelines before doing anything on their own. Dogs are very enthusiastic about wearing an e-collar when properly conditioned. They soon learn that it means they are going to do fun work.

Criticisms about e-collars are usually based on observing people who have little idea how to use them or for that matter have little idea about training in general. Any tool can be used badly. All dog training takes time and effort to learn how to do correctly and humanely. Even praise can be used incorrectly and confuse a dog.


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Radios aide in communication between the handler on line and the field. The purpose is not only to save the voices of the trainers, but to facilitate communication without distracting the dog. This is particularly true of working with pups who would easily be distracted if the handler started shouting directions to the bird boy.

There are multiple brands and types of radios that are popular


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Other: ATVs, holding blinds, and many other items that help with training are accumulated as a person gets more and more involved in the sport. The lists on this page represent just a selection of what might be purchased. There are many companies and many brands that produce all the equipment. Buyers need to explore what is out there and make their own decisions about what to buy from whom. All of the above are only examples.

An ATV is a great aide in training. Baskets on the back and front help carry the equipment out to distant throwing stations.
Ellie Muth in a "mule" takes equipment out to the field