Bird Dog & Retriever News

June / July 2003 issue Page 15

 Smarter Dummies:
New and Improved 'Tools 'to Teach Land and Water Retrieving Skills and to Provide Exercise For all Breeds of Gun Dogs
By Jerry Thoms

There probably aren't many gun dog owners who don't own a dummy - that is, a device of some sort thrown to improve retrieving skills and to provide exercise for any breed of hunting dog. Most hunters with Labradors, Chesapeakes, goldens, or other breeds bred specifically for retrieving probably already have bags and boxes full of training dummies. Likewise, many hunters with German shorthairs, English pointers, setters, or other pointing breeds as well as shot gunners with various kinds of spaniels will own dummies for a variety of practical purposes.
"Dummies are important to all gun dog owners because they are a good way to teach and improve a canine's retrieving skills and are a great way to provide instant exercise for any dog any time and anywhere," according to Jim Dobbs, a professional trainer and owner of Dobbs' Training Center in Marysville, California.
"You can toss a retrieving dummy for your dog in just about any weather and any where from in your back yard or at the local park to out in a goose pit or out of a duck blind on a day when the hunting is slow," according to Dobbs. "Because most dogs recognize the fun of fetching a dummy, there is no problem making this part of a lifelong training and exercise program," Dobbs believes.
"Throwing a dummy for your dog has some important psychological benefits," in the opinion of Jim Rieser, a veterinarian and gun dog owner from Franksville, Wisconsin.
"Teaching a dog to fetch or reinforcing a dog's natural desire to retrieve is one of the easiest and quickest ways to establish a pattern of bonding and basic obedience that can as carry over to other facets of training and into the relationship between the dog owner and the dog," Rieser says. "And a dog learning to competently retrieve isn't confined just to the retriever breeds, but is something necessary for all fully-trained versatile hunting dogs as well," Rieser emphasizes.
In the not so distant past, "dummies" for gun dogs were just what the term implies - life-less substitutes for game birds that could be thrown on land or in water for a dog to run after, fetch, and return to the thrower. The original dummies were probably just about anything a dog owner could throw and a dog would run after, pick up, and bring back to the dummy tosser.
Sticks were probably the first substitute for game birds, with blocks of wood or old socks stuffed with saw dust as initial refinements. The first major innovation in dummies was a heavy-duty bag made from cloth fabric and filled with cotton or cork, a device borrowed from boaters who used these things to protect their watercraft from bumping into boat docks. Aptly named, "bumpers," this term is still used by some dog people as a name for retriever dummies.
In recent years, however, dummies have undergone some major improvements in structural components, overall design, and range of purposes. These modern "training tools" are now made from sturdy canvas and Cordura, tough synthetics (plastic and vinyl) or natural rubber as the main materials in their composition. And the structure and design of these new and improved "smarter dummies" has made them much more versatile and useful as devices for training and exercising gun dogs.

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News May 2003
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
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