Whether you are hunting with your retriever or competing in tests/trials, the ability to work through a diversion bird is an imperative skill for success. At Retriever Training Supply, our favorite way to train on diversion birds is using our handheld launcher.
To start this drill, you will want to pre-load your dummy launcher and set it aside in a safe manner. With that set, send your dog on the mark or a blind retrieve as you typically would. As they retrieve the dummy and are on their way back, fire the dummy launcher and create the diversion bird. The goal is for your dog to watch the diversion bird fall and return to you with the original retrieve. If your dog starts to switch (a.k.a run to the launched dummy), stop them via a verbal correction or whistle, and recall them. Once they have delivered the original dummy to hand, send them to retrieve the diversion bird.
If this is a new drill for your retriever, start by creating more separation between your dog and the diversion bird. This can be done by shooting the diversion behind you or at a wider angle away from the dog. Once they understand the concept, increase the level of difficulty by decreasing the distance of the diversion bird from the retriever.
Starting this drill with hand-tossed dummies will likely make it easier for your retriever, but as you progress, it won't come close to the level of excitement of a launcher or a hunt/test situation.
Wingers are another tool you can use, but in our opinion, they are too clunky for this drill! You have to remember to charge the electronics, they take up a lot of space, they take time to set up/tear down, and you have to walk out to reload after every launch.
We already have limited time in the field, do yourself and your retriever a favor and get the best gear for the job. CLICK HERE to shop our launcher bundle to spend more doing what your love!
P.S. Any other training tips you would like us to cover? Leave a Comment!