When it comes to training any type of retriever, you’re going to need the proper equipment. Of course, a leash, collar, and whistle are about the most common when starting. However, when it comes to gun dog training the most important equipment and often overlooked is Dog Bumpers or Dog Training Dummies. They tend to be one of the least expensive items to purchase. Nonetheless, having a five-gallon bucket full will help ensure you have plenty of bumpers available to your pup.
As a result, we have compiled the best dog bumpers and also the leading questions that circle around dog training dummies. Check out the top rated bumpers and learn which ones will help prepare your retriever for this coming season.
Top-Rated Dog Bumpers –
1. Avery Sporting Dog HexaBumper Trainer –
- Hexagon Design
- Durable Material
- Various Color Selections
If you’re looking for gun dog training supplies Avery Sporting Dog has kennels, blinds, stands, vests, and bumpers. Avery Sporting Dog is a parent company to Avery Outdoors. Therefore, with the help of understanding what waterfowl hunters need for hunting, they have created the Avery Sporting Dog brand to help supply hunting dogs with the proper needs for training and hunting.
When looking for a pack of dog bumpers the Avery Sporting Dog HexaBumpers make the top of our list. The 2″x10″ design is easy to throw as it weighs in at 8 ounces each. You’ll also receive attached ropes to the dog training bumpers, unlike many other cheaper brands out there. Our favorite part of the pack is that you receive a series of three different colors for your training drills. White is the most common because it appears on most backgrounds. However, also included is orange which is less visible to retrievers since they can’t distinguish the color. As a result, the orange work great for blind retrieves. simply because as a handler we can still see them, however, the dog has to use their nose to find it. The last color included is a flasher black/white bumper that is highly visible with any background.
Instead of round design, Avery designed a hexagon shape that reduces chomping and improves your dogs holding skills. Also formed into the plastic design is “V” shaped grips that help promote soft mouth with a solid hold. As your dog will be able to grip these bumpers without it slipping around in their mouth when its wet. The valveless design all ensures that no water can penetrate the bumper causing them to sink over watermarks.
Lastly, the size of the bumper is smaller than some preferred 3″ bumpers, however, it’s available in both sizes. The advantage of the smaller size is that it’s easier for both small and large breeds when retriever training.
2. SportDog Brand Plastic Dummies –
- Lightweight Plastic
- Water Fillable Design
In 2003 Radio Systems Corporation’s venture into the gun dog industry was driven by the creation of the Sport Dog Brand. Since conception Sport Dog Brand has designed their gear in the field with hunters in mind. Primarily entering the market with e-collars Sport Dog Brand has been able to create products that are high quality, but rather tried and tested for the field and water. With such a dedication to gun dogs and training, it didn’t take long for Sport Dog Brand to begin producing dog training supplies as well.
Sport Dog Brand designed the 2″x12″ dummies for a regular size and a 3″x 12″ jumbo size to help teach and training dogs for larger bird retrieves. Made of BPA-FREE material the dummies are eco-friendly for your hunting partner and the environment. By design, the dog dummies are field tested with heat, cold, snow, rain, dust, and mud in mind to ensure that you’ve invested in a durable and rugged dog training bumper that will stand up to your dog’s training.
Sold in singles this allows you to select the necessary colors you are looking to training with. This also allows you to mix and match between orange, white, and white/black bumpers by color and size. I’ve found it beneficial to change up the bumpers I’m using on each drill this way my dog doesn’t get complacent on one style dummy. Whether your dog is young or old these plastic training tools are perfect for training in fields or over water.
This design even has a valve that allows you to fill the bumper. There are three added benefits to such a thing. First, with water weight, you can throw a heavier bumper further developing long retrieval skills. Second, with the right about of water, you can get the bumper to sit on the water lower than if it had no water. Therefore, teaching your dog to look harder and search harder for water retrieves. The third and last benefit is that with added weight it teaches your dog to pick up and hold heavier bumpers. Which can help imitate a goose’s weight.
3. SportDog Brand Natural Canvas Dummies –
- Easy To Throw
- Softer Than Plastic
As we mentioned in the previous dog training dummies product Sport Dog Brand was created in 2003, with the hunter in mind. None of Sport Dog Brand’s products leave their facility without properly being tested and designed for the field and intense hunting conditions we waterfowl hunters encounter. As a result, the Sport Dog Brand’s Natural Canvas bumpers is one of the most rugged and durable canvas bumpers we could find and test.
Most of the canvas bumpers seem to fall apart after just a few weeks of use. Most dogs can drip these a little harder than the plastic/rubber material dummies. However, the Sport Dog canvas bumpers held up to many months of retrieves in tough water and field conditions. The 2.75″x12″ design is a little different than any other size on this list. Therefore, with the different material and size, this is a perfect bumper to throw to your dog to mix things up while training. Plus, if you’re looking to get your puppy excited about birds and bumpers. Sport Dog has a puppy sized canvas bumper as well, which you can read more about here.
The heavy duty canvas material holds duck and goose scent so much better than any other type of dog training dummy on the market. Since the material isn’t rubber or plastic but rather canvas it can absorb the scent and hold it for much longer. No need to worry the dummies are foam filled which allows them to float in any pond, river, or lake. The one thing to be careful with when using canvas dummies is to keep them away from any puppy or adult dog. As they can easily be confused with a chew toy for puppies, therefore, they should only be used when training.
4. Browning Vinyl Training Dummies –
- Rugged Design
- Floating Foam Liner
- Large Size
If you don’t recognize the black deer silhouette on the side of these dog dummies. Then I’d have to say you may be born under a rock, as Browning is one of the largest firearms manufactures in the world with a rich history that dates back almost 150 years. However, they make and design much more than that, from clothing and footwear to hunting gear and tools Browning has it all. You wouldn’t think of Browning as your first choice for dog bumpers. However, after using the vinyl dog training dummies they work perfectly.
The dummies are featured in two different sizes and three different colors. Which we found to be great if you’re someone that likes the versatility of color and size, but likes to used one brand. The small dummies are 2″x10 weighing 7 oz, and the large-sized bumpers measure 2.5″x11.25″ and weigh twice the weight at 14oz. We found the smaller ones work best for young dogs and yard drills. Whereas the larger ones worked best for long drills and adult dogs as you can throw them much further.
The one feature that really allows you to throw the bumper so well is the plastic knobs at the end of the ropes. So many times regular rope will slip out of your hand, especially as they get wet. However, the Browning knob makes it really easy to throw and they never slip when you try to send one out there. The bumpers are featured to float with no issues the tough durable material won’t crack or puncture making them fill with water, as they have an inner layer of foam. Browning even features a diamond plate design on the outside making the dummies easy to grip preventing any chomping or slipping when your dog is running with them.
5. Dokken Dead Fowl Training Hunting Dummy –
- Ultra Realistic
- Foam Filled
- Easy To Throw
Since 1995 Tom Dokken has had the dedication for providing waterfowl hunters the best dog training dummies. The ultra-realistic bumpers are some of the best on the market. With over 30 years of dog training at one of the most notable kennels. Tom and his team have had the experience and knowledge to know what hunters need for proper training equipment. Dokken Dog Supply offers numerous products most notably are their bumpers made for just about any type of hunting. You can find over a dozen species to help give your dog the realistic training required.
The very first Dokken’s Deadfowl Trainer was designed for teaching dogs how to properly carry game birds. Designed with a hard head and feet, but a soft foam body, it was designed to teach dogs to pick up and hold a bumper correctly. You’ll notice that the head is attached with a single cord. This allows the head to freely swing similar to a dead bird. However, what it’s really designed for is to prevent your dog from head shaking and being too aggressive.
Every duck, goose, or game bird that is made at Dokken’s Deadfowl features an integrated rope that you can throw the bumper with. Tom Dokken has even started to develop and make bumpers that can be used with game launchers. The realistic dummies are shaped like ducks and game birds but can be launched from various dummy launchers.
The dog bumpers are also created to look and have the shape of actual game birds. For example, the most popular mallard bumper has the correct coloration, weight, and size as a live mallard. If you’re looking for something, in particular, Dokkens has you covered, you’ll find goldeneyes, pintails, redheads, wigeons, canvasbacks, snow geese, speckle bellies, and every other species needed. You can’t go wrong putting a few of these bumpers in your dog training bucket to give your dog some life-like training.
Other Species From Dokken Dog Supply:
- Green Winged Teal DeadFowl Trainer.
- This ultra-realistic bumper is designed to be the weight and size of a Green-Winged Teal.
- Perfect For Teaching young dogs as the size is small
- Dokken Canada Goose Dead Fowl Trainer Dummies
- Perfect lifelike weight and size of a large Canada goose.
- Nothing on the market has the feel and size that help give your dog the courage to pick up a Canada goose like the Dokkens dummy.
- Dokken Pheasant Upland Trainer
- If you plan on taking your dog Pheasant hunting the Deadfowl trainer is very realistic and is the perfect training dummy.
What Are Dog Bumpers –
Trainers and retriever dog owners use bumpers or dummies as a convenient way to run drills and training skills without the need for live birds. Dummies can be used over and over again to help teach dogs repetitive drills and skills. The List below are some helpful hints and tips when selecting various dog bumpers for your pup.
Why Are Dog Training Dummies Called Dog Bumpers? –
It’s no coincidence that a dog training dummy is called a bumper. As originally dummies came from boat bumpers. The soft white plastic bumpers that tie along your boat to prevent it from hitting a dock or pier. Considering most duck hunters are around water and quite inventive. I’m sure it didn’t take us duck hunters to toss a boat bumper to out dog to help teach them proper retriever skills. Plus the bumpers floated where highly visible with their white color and easy to throw as most had a rope attached to them.
What Type of Dog Bumpers To Buy?
Ever since owners and kennels have begun retriever training dog bumpers have been created and made of just about everything. From plastic to canvas, to soft foam, to even wood. However, with so many on the market, it’s hard to decide on what is going to be best for your pup. Therefore, we have broken down the different materials, sizes, and shapes to help select the best ones for your gun dog training styles.
Dog Bumpers Material –
Plastic & Soft Rubber –
One of the most common materials for dog training dummies is plastic and rubber. This type of material is very durable preventing a dog’s teeth from puncturing through or damaging the bumper. Plastic and rubber also float quite easily over water when doing water retrieves. Plastic and Rubber Dog Bumpers can also be shaped and formed into just about any size or shape inexpensively. As a result, you will see this as the most common material used for dog training dummies.
Canvas Dummies –
The following most common material is canvas. Typically what you’ll find is that inside the dog training dummies is a foam that allows the bumper to float. On the outside will be a tough durable canvas that protects the poly-foam insert. These are great for young dogs to help with their sensitive teeth. However, these are really great as well for adult dogs to teach them to not bite into the canvas and foam as it represents a live bird’s outer shell better.
Soft Duck Shaped Foam Bumpers –
Foam dog bumpers shaped like ducks, geese, and pheasants have become quite popular. As they provide a lifelike shape and size for dogs to become familiar with when training. They tend to be a little more expensive than bumpers that are shaped like a cylinder. However, the foam style bumpers can help provide a very realistic retrieve for your dog.
Wood Training Bumpers –
You may find yourself coming across wood bumpers and unlike the other materials listed. Wood is primarily used for force fetch training. Very rarely will you have to use these in drills outside of force fetch. However, wood does serve a great purpose on teaching dogs to not become “hard mouth”, were a dog aggressively bites into a dummy or bird while retrieving.
What Color To Buy? –
The three most common colors of dog bumpers you’ll find are orange, white, and white/black split dummies. Since dogs don’t see color, but rather shades and contrast. The different colors help train your dog to see and detect different shades and contrast. As a result, some colors can be hard on different backdrops. Orange bumpers to a dog can look grey, therefore at times, the bumper can disappear with various backgrounds. Hence, forcing your dog to use their nose instead of their eyes to find the bumper. However, as a handler, the orange can be seen at great distances to help teach your dog long distance casting drills.
The most common dummies usually have a white/black coloration as this can show up in different backdrops. For example, the white will show up if laying on a dark background and vise versa. The black will be visible to white backgrounds.
Why Does My Bumper Have a Valve –
As you look at your bumper or dog training dummies you may notice a valve where the rope is tied too. This is a valve to allow you to fill the hollow plastic bumpers with water or sand. This gives you added weight to help throw your bumper. It also helps to teach your dog to pick up heavier birds. I know plenty of hunters fill them to help teach their dogs that a goose is much heavier than a duck. Therefore, its a conditioning tool. However, be sure to not overfill them if you are using them at a pond or lake as they can sink if overfilled. So test them out in water to ensure that they still float if you fill them before you hit the pond for training.
What Size Dog Bumpers Do I Need –
The best advice for what size bumpers to buy is to purchase numerous different sizes and shapes. Therefore, you prevent your dog from preferring to pick up one bumper over another. Dogs have preferences too, and if they get comfortable retrieving a certain size or material they may not pick up a different one or worse an actual bird in the field. Of course, some of the smaller dummies are easier for young dogs, however, it’s still good to have your adult dog pick up the small ones in the event you do any teal hunting.
Should I Use Scent When Training –
Of course, if you can create your dog training sessions to be as realistic as possible it will ensure your dog will perform accordingly while hunting. Therefore, using scent on your dog bumpers can help training your dog to use their nose. If you plan on using plastic or canvas dummies the scent can be applied to them. A great way to prevent overusing the scent bottle is to keep them in a five-gallon bucket this way the scent can stay in one place. If you have some foam bumpers injecting the scent into the dummy is possible with many models. This can allow the scent to stay with the bumper for much longer than just being applied to the outer surface.
Dog Training Tips & Related Articles:
- If you haven’t check out Tom Dokken’s Training Books he has two of the best books to help teach retrievers to become a duck dog. Read more here.
- Need some tips on Labrador Retriever training read more about Gun Dog Training here.