Bird Dog & Retriever News

June / July 2003 issue Page 16

 As gun dog owners and as users of the "new and improved" tools for training and exercising, we all need to keep up to date with these developments in dummy technology and the changes in training and exercising methods that go with them. So here is an overview of what is available in dummies as used for these purposes.
The great debate: "canvas" versus "plastic" dummies
Want to start and argument between two different gun dog owners? Ask them which is the best kind of dummy - one made from canvas or one made from plastic? Actually, in my opinion, (and I'm pretty sure this could start an argument, too) there is no real cause for controversy because both types of dummies have their place as retrieving devices in training and exercise programs for any gun dogs.
Canvas Dummies
Of the commercially made retriever training tools, canvas dummies have been around the longest and always have been popular with many dog owners. These types of retrieving devices have the advantage of closely recreating the "feel" of game birds because of the softness of the outer fabric and inner stuffing. The porous quality of the canvas and the absorbent internal material also work well to hold added game bird scent, which a dog can easily smell when retrieving on land or in water. In water, canvas dummies tend to float high making them more visible to swimming dogs. And, likewise their bulk makes them easier to see on dry land.
The downside of canvas dummies is that they are prone to wear and tear when used by any over-enthusiastic dog with a hard bite. In fact, some dog owners claim that canvas dummies, because of their pliable texture, might encourage some dogs to develop "hard-mouth" which could carry over as a problem in retrieving and carrying waterfowl or upland game birds.
Canvas dummies also tend to be high-maintenance tools. They should be cleaned and hung up to dry after use in water to prevent mold, mildew, and rot from developing in warm weather or to stop wet canvas dummies from freezing rock hard in the winter.
Plastic Dummies
Plastic (or vinyl) dummies come in a standard oblong shape with hollow cores and knobs or ridges molded onto their outer surfaces to give dogs a better grip with their teeth when retrieving. Because of their weight and aerodynamic shape, plastic dummies are usually easy to throw. And, their plastic toughness makes them durable on rough ground or in snow and ice.
They are also relatively resistant to canine teeth with only the most ardent dummy muncher able to destroy one when given the time and opportunity. Most plastic dummies tend to be low maintenance because they absorb no water, are resistant to stains, and usually won't rip or rot like some all fabric products.
Plastic dummies, however, have some downside features as retrieving devices. Their "hard" texture doesn't necessarily "feel" like a game bird to some gun dogs, and might be objectionable to those dogs with sensitive mouthparts. These dummies also tend to ride low in the water and lie low on land, which can make them difficult to see by both a dog and a dog handler. And, because of their slick finish, these plastic products don't hold scent as well as a fabric-severed dummy.
Which is best? Canvas or Plastic? The answer depends on the dog (does he perform better with one or the other?), the circumstances (is a dummy that rides high in the water with a strong scent more important than one you can throw further on a below zero day in a field covered with snow?), and the experience of

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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.
Maintained by Dennis Guldan e-mail
Bird Dog & Retriever News, 563 17th Ave NW, New Brighton, MN 55112,
Phone/Fax 651-636-8045 Adv deadline 1st of the month prior to the issue.