I have a few bits and pieces that I use when I’m training my spaniels and over the years I’ve lost stuff, worn it out, or the dogs have eaten it.
When you are working with a spaniel and helping him to develop in his ability and training then you’ll really need to have a few pieces of equipment to help you along.
I thought that it might be helpful if I showed you what I have in my spaniel gun dog training kit on the understanding that it might give you some ideas and help you along with your spaniel training.
It doesn’t have to be expensive, you will probably need to buy a few things, and, if you are creative, then there’s a fair chance that you could make some of these items yourself. I think that it’s within the realms of possibility and it could save you some hard earned cash.
I will add some links to some of the products that I use ( or similar ) some of these links will be affiliate links and if you buy through them I will earn a small commision – which would help me out so thank you.
My Spaniel Training Kit
This is my kit that I use when training my dogs. It’s nothing special to look at and, as you can see, gets well used, dirty and a little worn.
I’m going to go through the content of my kit and show you just what I use when I am out with Boris and Nimrod, my two Cocker Spaniels.
Now, this is not a definitive list of things that you might want to use and, if you want, then you can get away with less.
You’ll find that as you train dogs you will aqcuire more and more equipment, mainly because things wear out or you’ll see a good deal on a piece of equipment, or something will come along that you like the look of.
It may also be that you have a difficult dog that is having a specific problem and you may need to get an item of equipment to help the dog ( and yourself ) to get around the obstacle.
So, as time goes on, and you spend more and more time training spaniels and other dogs, you’ll build on your kit and it will grow.
Where to get gun dog training gear
I’ve amassed a few things for use with training. Many have been purchased online via the likes of Amazon where you can find all sorts of dog training equipment.
I’ve also picked up equipment from second hand stores and military surplus shops. The latter are often overlooked by dog trainers, most seem to go for full priced products via gun dog suppliers.
If you are willing to take the time to visit some of these surplus shops then you can often get some great bargains as well as find some unusual kit and clothing that can help you when you are outdoors.
A lot of ex-military stuff is tough, cheap and easy to clean. I’ve found some great pants, hats and coats at these types of stores and, frankly, it’s always an adventure visiting these types of shops. I find them great fun and I don’t normally like shopping.
I’ve also used sites such as eBay, markets and from adverts in the newspaper and scrounged stuff of other people and, I’ve made items for training – although they didn’t last very long.
So I’d say be creative when buying and shopping for spaniel training gear and your outdoor clothing. You can find equipment in the most unexpected of places – so keep your eyes open.
What’s in my bag?
Many years ago I had a really good game bag that I had bought second hand from a local gun dealer. It was a great bag that was probably worth several times what I paid for it.
I was driving across country with my three Springer spaniels to go and help on a shoot for a weekend. The car was loaded up, the dogs were in the back and off we went.
On the way I could see, in the mirror, my youngest spaniel Fern, eating something which looked like a dog blanket. I thought nothing of it until I arrived at the destination and couldn’t find my game bag. All I could see was the brass buckle from the bag.
The penny dropped, Fern had eaten the bag.
So, if you pay a fortune then there’s a fair chance your dog will eat your bag.
The bag that I have now is the one above. I got this at an army surplus store and it cost next to nothing. It’s a bit tatty, the zips are now seized up, but I can get all of my dog training gear in it, alond with a small flask and some butties. So it does the job.
It’s made of canvas and is somewhat water resistant and it’s also pretty tough.
I’ve probably owned it for almost twenty years so it’s paid for itself several times over.
You will need a bag to carry your gear around with you as you’ll struggle without one.
Spaniel Training Whistle
I struggled to get a great picture of the whistle that I use. It is an ACME 210.5 whistle, that is specifically aimed at gun dog training.
In the past I’ve also used the ACME 211.5 whistle which is a slightly higher tone. The number represents the tone that the whistle produces.
I like these whistles as they are hard wearing and, unlike silent dog whistles, you can hear the ‘peep’ clearly and it is relatively easy to increase the whistle volume by gauging how hard you blow.
If you watch my training videos on Youtube, you’ll hear that I use a variety of whistle commands when training my spaniels, and this whistle is adaptable to changing tone and whistle types.
Other trainers may have different preferences when training their dogs, I’ve been using the ACME Dog Training Whistles for 30 years and, apart from losing a few, I’ve never had any problems with them and they are well made and reasonably priced.
Canvas Gun Dog Training Dummies
Canvas training dummies are, in my view, an essential item to have when training a spaniel. A key aspect of gun dog training is the act of retrieving and having an item that can be used to create retrieves is a necessity.
I prefer canvas dummies over plastic ones for several reasons, the main one being that a canvas dummy is soft and pliable making it easier fora dog to pick up and balance in his mouth.
Plastic dummies, or bumpers as they are also known, are hard and can potentially hurt a spaniel’s mouth, not to mention that it’s plastic, which I’m not fond of.
Whatever type of dummy you choose to use you’ll find it really useful if it has a toggle on the end as shown in the photgraph above. The toggle makes it much easier to throw the dummy accurately, thus helping you to create retrieving scenarios for your dog and making your training more productive. You can also use the toggle to carry several dummies at once, so they do make life easier for you.
I use a variety of canvas dummies, from the size shown above, which is about a pound in weight, to larger, hare sized dummies ( weighing about 3 pounds), and puppy dummies, about half a pound in weight ( shown below)
Neither of my spaniels wear collars, in fact I’ve never used collars on any of the spaniels that I’ve owned or trained.
There’s a very good reason for this and you’ll find that it’s common among gun dog owners and trainers for them not to use collars.
A dog working in the field can easily get caught on debris, cover, fencing, branches and other items when he is away from his handler and there have been cases of working dogs hanging themselves in this manner.
It’s not worth the risk, so I use a rope based lead, called a slip lead. The picture above is one of my dog’s leads.
Simple to use and quick to take off and put on, these are strong leads, weather resistant and safe to use.
As testimony to their durability I still have the slip leads that I purchased back in 1991, and they are almost as good as new.
Fur and Feather Training Dummies
As your spaniel progresses with his retrieving you’ll need to spice it up a little bit and work on getting him familiar with the smell of fur and feathers, and also the sensation of having these in his mouth.
After all we will be expecting him to retrieve animals if he is a working dog, so we need to help him to work with these.
I bought the fur dummy above from Amazon, but, in the past I’ve made them from canvas dummies and rabbit skins, simply stitching the skin onto the dummy.
Likewise I’ve also made feather dummies from pheasant feathers, holding them onto a canvas dummy with string and elastic bands.
These types of dummies are also useful for training when we are encouraging a spaniel to use his nose more, particularly if scent is poor when we are training.
They are also really useful if you are having problems with your spaniel retrieving. Sometimes the added incentive of the fur can be just the thing for a reluctant retriever.
They give off greater scent levels than normal canvas dummies so they offer you more opportunity with your training exercises.
Tennis Balls for Retrieving
I always have some tennis balls with me for retrieving. I don’t make heavy use of these, preferring instead to use the canvas dummies that I have, but, tennis balls can be a useful training aid, and they’re worth having.
If you have a spaniel that is reluctant to retrieve, then, rolling a tennis ball along the ground, or throwing it, can have a dramatic effect on your dog. Most spaniels , and dogs, love to chase things, and a tennis ball is an exciting item for him to run after.
Another good use is the create a scent trail for your dog. By spitting on a tennis ball you add your scent to it and make it super smelly to your dog. You can then roll the ball along the ground, into cover, and, then send your spaniel to retrieve it.
This encourages him to get his nose to the ground and scent out the ball.
Tennis balls are also soft and they float, so they give you yet more options for your spaniel training and I always have a couple of them in the bag.
Gun Dog Retrieving Aid
This is an interesting training item that I’ve had to use in the past with spaniels that have been reluctant to retrieve or that liked to run off with the retrieve.
Basically this is a canvas roll that contains a pouch.
You get a small dog treat and put it into the pouch, making sure that your dog sees you do this. You then roll the pouch up, and the velcro strips hold it all together. Then, you throw the roll for your dog to retrieve.
And it works. I was surprised, but the dog that I was struggling with picked the roll up and, with some encouragement, brought it back to me, whereupon I opened it up, took the treat out and gave it to him. rewarding him for bringing it back.
My experience is that this type of training aid works and will help a spaniel to work out his retrieving so they can be worth the small investment if your dog is struggling with retrieving or is reluctant to fetch.
Having bought this and used it, I’ve since found it difficult to find online, but, I’ve found the same type of product under a different name on Amazon.
It does exactly the same job and is called the Dog Activity Prey Dummy.
You can find them on Amazon and check their price here.
Our Recommended Spaniel Training Kit Gear
You’ll find some of my recommendations below, for training equipment, to help you to get your spaniel training kit together.
Hopefully this will be helpful and these items should all be reasonably priced.
These are affiliate links so if you do choose to buy through them I’ll earn a small commission which helps me out.
Thanks if you do.
I’ve also recently got a starting pistol which is a vital piece of equipment for when we are training a spaniel to be steady to shot.
It’s a great addition to the ‘toolbox’.
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Last update on 2023-12-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API