Using gun dogs for hunting has been one of the favorite parts for many game hunters since the practice began many centuries ago. At this point, hunters aren't utilizing only dogs or hunting supplies, but also look for the best gun dog supplies to assist their hunting dogs for the best results.
Today, not only we have so many breeds that are trained to become best hunting dogs to help their owners, but also an ample gun dog supply of products to choose from. In this article we're taking a look at some of the best gun dog supplies for game hunters that help with an efficient, safe, productive and fun hunting experience.
Hunting game with gun dogs?
Hunting with your dog is a treasured pastime that began many ages ago when Christians and Arabic people first interacted with each other.
The former brought their dogs to the Holy Land and discovered that the latter were heavily interested in hunting dogs as well. Breeds were exchanged and that was the point where gun dogs really began to take off.
Gun dogs are typically divided into three groups:
- Retrievers (more on retrievers)
- Flushing dogs (more on flushing dogs)
- Pointing breeds (more on pointing breeds)
Retrievers are primarily used for waterfowl hunting and are sent to retrieve whatever the hunter has shot.
Flushing dogs are used to chase the birds from their nests and send them up into the air for the hunter to shoot, afterwards marking the game for retrieval.
Pointing breeds are in charge of finding game and generally works alongside their handler in a pair.
In the past 5-10 years, hunting dog supplies manufacturers have developed an abundance of gun dog supplies to use with all of these gun dog breeds. Such gun dog supplies are often aimed both at hunts themselves and just training dogs for hunts, e.g. dog training collars. The aim of these gun dog products is to help the hunter as well as the dog to be more efficient, silent and effective during their hunts together.
No matter what type of hunting dog you have, training him will require time, consistency, and patience if you wish to have a truly effective hunting canine.
Hunters must be sure that their dogs are trained properly before bringing them on a hunt. Otherwise, an inexperienced gun dog could be a danger to the hunter or himself. Hunters usually spend many hours developing a strong bond with their hunting canines, spending money on dog training schools and gun dog supply products.
If you're an avid hunter who goes on hunts with gun dogs, you already know most of this information and you're familiar with these hunting tools for dogs. But if you're new to hunting with dogs and gun dog supply products in general, this information is for you.
Condensed gun dog history aside and assuming that your canine hunter is properly trained, before you head out to hunt game with him, you are going to need the right equipment for the job. You and your canine must be fully prepared for the hunt and that means packing at least the most essential best gun dog supplies for game hunters.
30 Best Gun Dog Supplies
(essential for game hunters with dogs)
The type of gun dog you have determines, in part, the hunting dog products you will need for your hunts. There are also items that are universally necessary regardless of whether you have a pointing dog, a flushing dog, or a retrieving dog breed.
In this article, we’ve listed a variety of different gun dog supply recommendations, some of which are for training, general gun dog use, and/or pertain to a specific category of gun dog. Most hunters don't need all of these tools; however, if you're a passionate hunter who always goes on hunts with a dog, you'll find some interesting recommendations.
Browse through the list to see which tools may be helpful to you, your Fido or your work together. Alternatively, you can also look into getting some of the more popular hunting dog training kits to save yourself some money and have all the tools in one place.
Now let's dig into the meat and potatoes of these tools, and discuss why, where and how you need all this gun dog supply for the best hunting experience with your pet hunter.
Training Gun Dog Supplies
(getting ready for action)
Hopefully your pup is all trained and ready to go, but if not you'll certainly need to take some extra gun dog gear with you. Training materials should not go forgotten because they are essential for any gun dog to become an expert at what they do. Training your dog for hunts is one of the most important things a hunter must focus on first.
The first thing a hunter should start training their dogs is the prey. Your hunting canine must understand what you as a hunter expect of him, things he should and should not do. This part of training is also the most fun for majority of hunters and their dogs.
Buying dummy kits shaped like ducks or other birds and having your gun dog (particularly a retriever) practice with them will teach your Fido not to maul the carcass when he retrieves it for you. Game bird looking dummies are also used for training waterfowl dogs and are more popular among hunters. These are more fun and effective for training hunting dogs, but they also cost an extra buck for the owner.
Hunters who are going to be using the above hunting dummies for dogs may need to buy a dummy launcher as well. These devices propel the dummy bird farther than you could throw it and also simulate an actual flying bird circumstance. However, this isn't the most essential tool since you still can throw these dummies yourself.
“Besides the physical aspects of the dummy-retrieving process, there’s the opportunity to create a bond between man and dog, improve obedience and cooperation and relieve canine anxiety and stress.” – Jerry Thoms of Gun Dog Mag.
Gunfire and dogs
The next set of best gun dog supplies for game hunters to train hunting dogs are things like test pistols and blanks to go with those pistols. These are especially useful for training a pointing dog not to be afraid of the sound of a gun going off.
Be aware though that the American Kennel Club has published certain regulations (PDF) and restrictions on using these blanks so that your dog’s hearing isn’t damaged. Read all this documentation before using any pistols around your hunting canine.
Remember that there's a very particular way of training your dog for the sound of gunfire. This must be done carefully not for safety reasons alone, but also to ensure that your dog doesn't remain scared of firearms for the rest of his life. The Sports Man Channel has published a great article on how to introduce your dog to gunfire – take a look for tips.
“Trying to get your pup accustomed to the sounds of gunfire isn’t quite the same as training them to sit or flush quail or stay put. Gunfire is an artificial intrusion in the field, and if you try to rush their training, the pups could become gun shy or nervous and jittery around loud noises. And unlike those other behaviors, this isn’t something that you can easily correct.” – Cade Knotts
Other training tools
On top of that, there's also training hunting dogs with trailing and breaking scents. By using these scent training tools you'll be able to teach your hunting dog to immediately recognize the scent of his target in the field. The better your canine is at this, the quicker you'll retrieve the game as well as have your dog be fast and finding your next targets.
Finally, for hunters who are new to using gun dogs as their assistants, learning all about hunting with dogs – proper techniques, safety and precautions, training dogs and effective results – is something that could prove to be very useful. Reading books and articles is a good start, but many owners find videos as the best way to learn about gun dogs.
You can find several sets of training DVDs for the owner and training DVDs for the dog to purchase online. If you look at the reviews of these two sets, majority of dog owners found these to be extremely effective in learning some of the tricks they never knew as well as finding more ways on how to make hunts more effective.
Correct Type of Gun Dog Supply
(make the right choice)
Picking the right type of gun dog supply items is just as important. Some of the tools may not work for all breeds or specific types of hunts. Here are some suggestions below.
Dog GPS collars
A GPS collar may be the most essential item on your gun dog supplies list, regardless of the type of hunt you're going for. If you're going to use a dog GPS tracker, then make sure to always have a set of extra batteries on hand. Some of these devices are known for discharging pretty fast.
High-quality and accurate GPS dog collars allow hunters to track their dog’s movements and always keep an eye on the dog's location. It's not uncommon for canines to become completely focused on the prey and run miles ahead of the owner, which is not something you may wish for your pup to do, especially if he's still new to hunting.
For more on canine tracking collars, see our round-up of top 15 best dog GPS collars.
Dog command collar
Another example of a good hunting collar that helps you recall your dog is a command collar. A command collar is NOT to be confused with a dog shock collar, which is a completely different tool albeit also very useful at training dogs as long as you know exactly how to safely train dogs using shock collars.
Dog command collar emits a soft tone that only the dog can hear. This tone, operated by you, can go off when you want to praise the dog, warn them, or communicate some other command. It's an effective way of teaching dogs to respond to different commands.
Along those same lines, another useful gun dog supply tool to consider is a dog whistle that you can use to interact with your dog and recall him or make him sit and stay. You can never be too careful while hunting with your dog.
Dog GPS trackers and command collars for dogs are great pieces of equipment, but in case they fail it, is always smart to have a dog whistle for back up to recall your dog. Just make sure you know how to use a whistle for dogs to achieve the desired effect.
Dog ID tags
In case your dog does get lost, ensure that your pet's collar is equipped with a pet ID tag with his name, your address and your phone number on it. It's a simple precautionary measure but definitely one of the most essential gun dog supplies you need to consider.
Having a pet ID tag on your canine will help anyone who finds your pooch to identify him. Finally, consider getting your dog's collar and tags that are completely waterproof and durable so that they will stand up to the elements that your dog will be exposed to.
Safety When Hunting with Dogs
Below we've listed some of the suggestions from other avid hunters that often hunt with dogs. These aren't the most essential gun dog supply items; however, some hunters may find these tools and equipment useful for comfort and safety of the owner and the dog.
Gun dog clothing
You might need to look into obtaining dog boots and possibly a dog harness or vest. If going in winter, there are specifically designed winter dog boots as well as other winter dog gear, which you can find on most online retailers' websites.
When it comes to dog boots, canines are susceptible to rugged terrain so be sure to purchase dog boots that are water resistant and impervious to any type of terrain including rocks, snow, ice, heat, and other elements that may be common in your region. Some dog boots are only good for winter, some for summer and some are designed to be all-around protective footwear (or paw-wear) for dogs. See here on how to choose winter dog clothing.
A set of good quality doggy boots will protect your pet's paws from getting abrasions, burns from too hot or too cold of a terrain while he's outdoors with you. Many types of hunt-related injuries can lead to infections, and infections can be quite dangerous.
For example, the Ruffwear dog harness (to the right) is currently the most popular choice among pet owners, hunters and working dog owners. It's been rated as one of the top best dog harnesses currently available.
There are also many different kinds of dog vests available, both for everyday use and in the gun dog supplies section. Some are protective and others are camouflaged and designed to blend in with the outdoors.
Protective dog vests are usually a bright neon color and allow you to easily identify your dog and avoid any deadly mishaps. Be certain to choose one that is flexible and moves easily with your pet. If you're going to be near water, consider purchasing a flotation vest as well.
First aid kit for dogs
As with humans, a first aid kit always comes in handy no matter what you’re doing. You can purchase a dog first aid kit at most pet stores, and your local sporting goods store may carry one that features items specifically for hunting dogs as part of their gun dog supplies offering, which would be better.
You can also put together your own first aid kit for dogs – here's how to do it. Most of these first aid kids contain paw cream for dogs (if they don't, remember to purchase extra). This cream should be applied twice weekly to the pads of your dog’s paws to help toughen his feet.
Make sure to use it for a few weeks before you go hunting with him. The cream can also serve as a light antiseptic. There are also paw care creams that you'll need to use after the hunt that will help keep your dog's paws in good condition and soothe any injuries.
Feeding your dog
To be safe, you should also bring some dog food in a portable dog food container and a travel bowl. The only problem is carrying them with you, so make sure you either bring the exact amount (not too much), or have a special container for all this dog food to bring with you hunts.
Furthermore, another potentially useful food related item to remember to include for your dog is travel water bottle. Hunting is hard work for any canine, even if it seems easy to you, and they need to have nourishment while out there with you.
Preparing for your hunt as if you're preparing for a survival in the woods is a smart idea. If you get lost and end up staying in the woods longer than you anticipate, it will be necessary to have some dog food and fresh water on hand for your pet.
When staying on a hunt for longer periods of time, dog supplements for digestion (e.g. digestive enzymes) are also something to include on your best gun dog supplies list, as they provide enzymes that help your dog effectively absorb protein, fat, carbs, starch, and fiber more quickly and efficiently. These dog supplements are especially beneficial for working, athletic and gun dogs.
All of these gun dog supplies can be stored with your dog if you can afford to purchase a dog crate for him that's designed specifically for hunting. This kennel or crate can be camouflage patterned so as not to attract attention from other animals.
Camo kennel covers can also be purchased to conceal your existing dog kennel nicely if you don’t want to buy a brand new one.
With all of these gun dog supplies on the list – and more still to come – there's going to be quite a few things to carry. What you can do is split the load between you and your dog while you're moving between locations.
Get your Fido a dog backpack and stuff it with the necessary items for your pet that he can manage to carry there. Take it off when you're about to release him for flushing.
In the Field…
When you’re in the thick of things, make sure your dog has a dog blind. This will help keep him concealed until he gets up to go after something. The blind should obviously be camouflaged so as to blend in and prevent the dog from being spotted.
To have your dog obey certain “stay” and “heel” commands in the field, you can purchase a heeling stick and/or check cord. When used properly, both of these are humane pieces of equipment that you can use to teach your dog to stay. This is especially suitable for retrievers who need this type of direction during the hunt.
Finally, at the end of the day when you and your gun dog are ready to go home, use a dog seat cover, if that’s where you are going to be leaving your dog for the trip back (as opposed to in a crate or kennel). This will prevent any messes from getting on your car or truck’s seat. You may want to invest in a waterproof seat cover if your hunting dog will frequently get wet.
With the right gun dog supply essentials, all your hunts will be happy and safe, and hopefully successful. Remember that safety needs to be your first priority and taking a dog into the woods that isn't properly trained or well equipped with the most necessary gun dog supplies can be dangerous to you and your pet. Putting in some training hours first will pay off big time once you're able to get into the woods.
READ NEXT: What Are Breaking Scents for Hunting Dogs?