Jun 29, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Jerry Sather
We recently added some “fire power” at Labs Unlimited Kennels I think is worth telling you about.
If you’ve never worked with a pro trainer before, you might not realize that we almost always run multiple dogs through the same training set up. For “the big dogs” we might run it as a true triple mark with one or two related blind retrieves to follow up the marks. For the dogs that aren’t as advanced or are working on a particular skill or trying to build confidence (like we’ve been doing with Versus Country Raider the last several weeks) we’ll run the marks as singles and repeat as necessary to create success and understanding.
This means we throw a lot of birds in the same set up. Old school trainers used a lot of “bird boys” meaning that they either hired a bunch of teenagers to throw the marks or tried to have enough dog owners/handlers on hand for each training session to take turns throwing birds for the dogs. As you can imagine, both scenarios left ample margin for not having enough or the right people on hand to handle the tasks.
I’ve used mechanical bird throwers for a long time. These are basically sling-shot type devices that launch a dead duck or pigeon by remote control. However, they are basically “single shots” and required that after each dog, I make the rounds to reload the launchers. I did this for years and all this walking was good for my physique, but it hampered getting the dogs through multiple set-ups yet still allowing me the time to do the yard work with the dogs at that stage in training.
So after a lot of searching and research, I’ve just added three brand new Thunder 1000 10-shot remote control dummy launchers to the Labs Unlimited Arsenal. They aren’t cheap, but they are sure to increase my productivity meaning the dogs get more retrieves each day – the key to advancement, especially of advanced level dogs. They are powered by MAPP gas and give nice high arcs that the dogs can see. The dummies are long white cylinders with removable black bands that help make them visible against about any sky or background.
I don’t have the dogs retrieve the actual dummies. Instead I put a pile of dead birds in the near vicinity of the landing dummies. The dog sees the dummy fall, but is greeted with real birds to retrieve when it arrives. That is an excellent motivational tool for the dogs, and helps in our effort to make every training session as “real” as possible. Toward that end, the remote system can be set to make a duck call prior to launching the dummy and the launch sounds very similar to a gunshot. Again, important to keeping training sessions real to competition or hunting situations.
The Thunder launchers are so new to our kit, we’re still working out the kinks on occasion, but I can already see where they will be a huge help to me which means they’ll be a huge benefit to Raider and the other dogs!
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