The question that I see A LOT online and in person is “What should I buy to do IPO?”
I’m going to answer that question here with a list of the things that I like and use. I am providing links for ease of use (full disclosure – they’re Amazon affiliate links), but there are lots of places to purchase from, and I’ve provided links to some of my favorites on my ‘Links’ page.
First and foremost, if you have a puppy and are just starting out, I don’t recommend purchasing much in the way of “stuff”. A) You don’t know what you like or your club likes and B) Your puppy is going to outgrow everything anyway. Fortunately, most clubs have a repository of outgrown puppy stuff that gets passed from club member to club member. At my club, we can outfit a 12-week-old puppy in free hand-me-downs in 5 seconds flat. So, if you have a young pup, ask at your club if anyone has any out-grown equipment you can have or borrow – chances are, they can outfit you.
Second, and maybe more importantly, the best place to get recommendations for equipment preferred by your club is to ask at your club. Most clubs have certain preferences for equipment, and while it’s not a big deal to have something different, most people prefer to fit in. So, if you’re the fitting in type (I am, too), ask around before dropping a bunch of money.
Alright – on to the recommendations!
First Day at Club
For your first forays into IPO, or your first day at a new club, you only need a couple of things – a dog, a leash, a collar, and a crate. I won’t tell you where to get your dog (well, I will, but not here), but here are my favorites as far as the rest go.
- Collars –
- For a puppy, any flat collar will do for your first day.
- Fursavers – For an adult dog, you’re going to want a fursaver. Fursavers slide over the head when going on and off, so make sure when measuring that you take the widest part of your dog’s head into account. The length of the collar is in inches and this is the measurement you’ll want to worry about – the 3 or 4 millimeter bit just refers to the size of the links.
- Prong Collars – In addition to a fursaver, you may want a prong collar for an adult dog. Puppies under five months of age should not be in a prong collar yet, so please don’t show up to club with one. If you have a dog five months or older and would like to use a prong collar, please check out this article from Leerburg on how to properly fit and use one. Nothing will get you snickered at more by a dog snob than an improperly fitted prong!
- Leashes – Leashes are a little more personal, so what material you use will be up to your preference. For your first day, pretty much any leash will do, but here are a couple of suggestions anyway.
- Crates – Yes, you need a crate. In IPO, normally only one or two dogs are permitted to be out at a time, which means that most of the time, your dog will need to be crated in your vehicle. Most dogs with the drives for IPO cannot be trusted to not eat the interior of your car if left loose, and will pull apart a cheap wire crate in pretty short order. So, think of your crate as an investment – here is where it definitely pays off to spend a little more money. There are lots of options as far as crates out there, but I strongly recommend an Impact Crate or similar. Pricey, yes, but definitely worth it (no, I’m not a paid shill for Impact Crate, but if anyone from Impact is reading, call me? I’m kidding, of course, I just really love my Impact Crate). Impact Crates come in a ton of colors and custom options, so if you want to get fancy, check out their website. If you just want a plain old crate, here are some links:
Beyond your first day, there is a whole pile of stuff you can spend money on. Below I’ve linked to the stuff that I, personally, use with my dog. There are obviously a million options out there, though, so don’t feel like I’m the ultimate authority on what to have!
Tracking Line – I use this line in the 20′ length for training tracking. 33′ (IPO regulation length) is a lot of line to manage while training.
Protection Line – I like this line in 5/8″ x 15′ for protection training. It gives good grip and won’t burn your hands.
Dogtra Arc – I like this one for its design and reliability. I rarely use anything but the vibrate function, and don’t typically train with an e-collar, so this sits in my training bag most of the time, but it’s great to have it when I need it.
I used to recommend the Arc, and then had some very bad experiences with mine when it was still relatively new. I now use an Educator and have been very happy with it for more than a year.
Bark Collar – Brody loves to bark, which is great during protection, but not great when I let him out to pee at 5am on a Sunday. He wears this bark collar on the lowest setting pretty much anytime he’s out in my yard. My neighbors are very grateful, I’m sure.
Agitation Harness – This is the harness I use for protection work. It’s pretty adjustable in size and has held up great without creating any sore spots on Brody.
Dumbbell – I have this dumbbell for training retrieves.
Clicker – Yes, you’ll want a clicker. Actually, you’ll want a bunch because you will inevitably lose at least two immediately.
Touch Pad – Trust me.
And, finally, Brody’s favorite toy, which is pretty out there for IPO, but works great for us!