Products for Your Pooch

By David Draper
[I] think it’s safe to say that bird hunting wouldn’t be the same without man’s best friend. A bird dog makes the experience not only more enjoyable but also more successful, leading upland hunters to birds they otherwise would walk by and finding ducks and geese that waterfowlers might never recover deep in the marsh. Along the way, hunters have come up with many products to help dogs and dog owners, including this short list that we’re excited about this season.

Browning Neoprene Performance Vest

Running a retriever in heavy cover, cold water and swift current presents multiple threats from abrasion, exposure and exhaustion. One of the best ways to protect against these dangers is with a durable, protective vest. The Browning Performance Vest is made from 3mm neoprene, with stitched, blind seams that have been bar-tacked at critical points, to prevent premature separation and blown stitching. Wide Velcro panels on each shoulder along with a full-length back Velcro opening ensure a comfortable and secure fit that won’t bind or hinder the dog’s performance. The chest panel is reinforced with a second layer of rubberized neoprene to ward off sharp willows, underwater stumps, cattails and other snags. I particularly like the double-tacked webbing handle that allows the hunter to quickly assist a swimming dog over the gunnel and into the boat. Camo: Realtree Max-5. Price: $30 to $45. Browning Lifestyle, 866-453-1098

Browning's Neoprene Performance Vest

Ready Dog Gun Dog First Aid Kit

Gundogs can encounter many hazards during a day in the field, from barbed-wire fences to porcupines and all other manner of dangers. That’s why it’s important to keep a first-aid kit on hand—and Ready Dog’s is among the best I’ve found. Luckily I haven’t had to break into it yet, but when the inevitable happens, I’m secure knowing the Gun Dog First Aid Kit will have what I need to provide emergency aid. The 11" (h) x 8" (w) x 7" (d) zippered case opens to reveal two large clear pouches filled with everything from wound-care items to pain relievers. A smaller, removable Field Pouch allows hunters to slip some basic-care items into their vests. There is even a wound stapler, shears, forceps and a digital thermometer for serious emergencies. A comprehensive First Aid for the Active Dog handbook, by Sid Gustafson, DVM, is included, as is a recipe card for an odor-removal solution should your dog encounter a skunk. Price: $98. Ready Dog, 877-771-0159

Ready Dog Gun Dog First Aid Kit

SportDOG Wetland Hunter 1825

SportDOG's Wetland Hunter 1825

A waterfowler’s passion often puts him in some of the worst conditions imaginable. By default, duck hunters’ dogs have it even worse—working in icy water, deep snow and frost-covered brush. Good retrievers thrive in these conditions, and so should their e-collars. Both the receiver and transmitter on SportDOG’s Wetland Hunter 1825 feature DryTek construction, meaning they’re not only waterproof but also submersible to 25 feet. This ensures full control whether you drop the transmitter in the marsh or send your dog on multiple retrieves in a heavy chop. And speaking of full control, that’s where the Wetland Hunter excels, with a full 1-mile range in ideal settings—more than enough for the longest retrieves on cripples. Eight levels of stimulation in each of three modes (high, medium and low) combine for a total of 24 levels and are quickly accessible via dial and push-button activation for continuous and nick corrections. There is also a separate tone button located on the side of the transmitter. For added convenience, the lithium-ion batteries can be fully charged in just two hours. The receiver and transmitter are coated in Realtree Advantage Max-4 HD camouflage. Price: $305. SportDOG, 800-275-6797

D.T. Systems Winged Flyer

D.T. Systems Winged Flyer Scent Strip Super Pro Dummy

Realism and repetition are two important tenets of dog training. You need to put your trainee in realistic situations and drill it repeatedly before advancement. Canvas dummies are great for training, as they are durable and inexpensive, allowing for multiple marks during retrieving and handling sessions. The problem with typical canvas dummies is that they are static, offering no visual realism for field-training situations. Many trainers enhance their dummies with real wings, flagging tape and other visual cues to aid in marking. The heavy-duty dummies from D.T. Systems are made from 18-oz canvas and have bi-color wings sewn in. Black on one side, white on the other, they flutter like real wings when thrown, and the contrasting colors help dogs visually mark birds on the ground. D.T. also adds a scent-training feature in the form of a 2½" strip of absorbent fabric sewn into the side of the dummy. This strip soaks up commercially available bird scent. The rope handle is sewn in, as well, and the entire dummy is washable. Available in two sizes: Small (2" x 9") and Large (3" x 12"). Price: $13 and $14. D.T. Systems, 888-588-8364

Gunner G1 Dog Kennel

Gunner's G1 Dog Kennel

A gundog represents a big investment in time and money. A good one also becomes a member of the family and deserves a high level of protection during transport. When it comes to portable kennels, Gunner Kennels’ offerings are top of the line, and I honestly can say they’re the best I’ve encountered. They are heavy and not inexpensive, but their durability is worth it. The double-walled, roto-molded construction is virtually bombproof. In tests they’ve been dropped off of cliffs, had 600-pound weights dropped on them and been shot with a 12-gauge from a distance of seven steps—with the result being little more than some cosmetic damage (and, notably, no penetration by shotgun pellets). Rubberized feet grip truck beds like glue, and the crates come with stainless-steel tie-down pins that accommodate ratchet straps for added security. All other hardware is stainless steel as well, and the door features a secure latch that is all but impossible for dogs to open. The crate even comes with a drain plug that makes cleanout a breeze. The Intermediate size, which can handle dogs up to 75 pounds, measures 34" (l) x 23" (w) x 28½" (h) and weighs about 45 pounds. A Large size is available to accommodate dogs up to 95 pounds. Price: Intermediate, $500; Large, $600. Gunner Kennels, 844-486-6375

Dogtra 1900S E-Collar

Dogtra's 1900S E-Collar

One of the biggest challenges with conventional e-collar training is finding just the right level of stimulation to match a dog’s temperament. It doesn’t help that those levels are dynamic, changing with the dog’s mood and during training and field situations. Many collars limit the ability to adjust levels to just a few pre-notched clicks that sometimes vary widely from not enough to too much. The 1900S offers the widest range of stimulations available. By turning the smooth rheostat located on top of the transmitter, the trainer can dial in one of 127 levels of static stimulation. The precise level is displayed on an easy-to-read LCD screen on the transmitter, and intuitive buttons deliver momentary, constant and vibration corrections. Vibration can even be adjusted with low- or high-power outputs for more intense stimulation during field situations when a dog might be more focused on game than commands. Lithium-polymer batteries deliver enough power for ¾-mile range in flat terrain. Both the low-profile collar and ergonomic transmitter are waterproof and drop resistant. Price: $240. Dogtra, 844-336-4872

Filson Collapsible Dog Bowl

I now envy hunters whose sporting dogs will drink from a water bottle. My older Lab handled the task fine, but my younger dog has never quite figured it out. He acts like he wants a drink, and then backs away the instant the water comes out of the bottle. I never said he was the brightest dog on the block, but he’s hell on pheasants, so I keep him around. Now I water him in the field with Filson’s Collapsible Dog Bowl, which I keep rolled up in my bird vest. Measuring 3" deep and 9" wide, it’s short enough that I can fill it with just a squirt or two of water. It makes keeping my dog hydrated less of a chore and, because it’s Filson, I know it’s going to last many seasons. The exterior is 7½-oz Ten Mile Cloth, with a nylon lining that doesn’t saturate with water. A handy loop accommodates a clip, if you would rather carry it that way. Color is Blaze Orange. Price: $32. Filson, 800-624-0201

Filson's Collapsible Dog Bowl

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