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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am working with a friend (thank you, you know who you are) on training my pup. He is doing ok for the little training we have done. My biggest problem this weekend is with the first shot fired off he showed signs of being gun shy. My question is what advice would you give on working on the gun shy problem. I have other questions that I will put in another post.
Thanks in advance.
 
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The main thing to keep in mind when introducing a young dog to gunfire is to use moderation. You want to start off at a considerable distance away from the pup when introducing the gunfire. I always start off with a helper shooting a blank pistol about 100yds away while I throw some fun bumpers for the pup. If the pup still flinches and or puts all his attention to the shot go further. The secret is to have the dogs attention on something it loves to do(retrieving, playing with the kids). We start at a very young age introducing gunfire. Being in your situation having already introduced gunfire with a less than adequate result I would back off and put some distance between the sound and the dog. You can start shortening the distance when the dog seems comfortable to the shot. If your dog still seems uncomfortable you need to focus on creating that distraction(fun bumpers) that will pull his attention away from the shot until finally the pup is associating the fun with the shot and you have then socialized your pup to gunfire.

Backwater Retrievers
www.backwaterretrieversonline.com
 

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Great advice from Backwater. I took my lab to the local skeet range and left her in her kennel in the back of my Excursion. I left her there for about 10 minutes and then when she couldn't stand it anymore (the possibility she was missing out on something), I opened the doors and let her out of her kennel. After playing with her in the Excursion, I let her out and we played fetch with her tennis ball. She never payed attention to the shots. I would take her out there several times over several weeks. Call your local skeet range and see if they would mind if you did something like this. I doubt there would be any issues with that. Again, it has to be introduced in moderation. Having her in the kennel in the truck gave her that safe haven when she first heard the shots and having her inside the truck muffled the noise.
 

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Pathfinder said:
Great advice from Backwater. I took my lab to the local skeet range and left her in her kennel in the back of my Excursion. I left her there for about 10 minutes and then when she couldn't stand it anymore (the possibility she was missing out on something), I opened the doors and let her out of her kennel. After playing with her in the Excursion, I let her out and we played fetch with her tennis ball. She never payed attention to the shots. I would take her out there several times over several weeks. Call your local skeet range and see if they would mind if you did something like this. I doubt there would be any issues with that. Again, it has to be introduced in moderation. Having her in the kennel in the truck gave her that safe haven when she first heard the shots and having her inside the truck muffled the noise.
Whoa there: that can be a really bad idea if the dog isn't quite "there" yet: Lot of shots going on out there: a heck of a lot more often than you can throw fun bumpers. Also, it's just simply a scenario that you can't control: one guy with a starter pistol like BR mentioned can be "cut off" if the need arises, and you can vary exactly just how close the gun is: that can't be controlled at a skeet range. There's just way too much going on at your average skeet range for it to have much value as a directed training tool. Once the dog is for-real acclimatized to shooting, it may very well serve as a reinforcement tool, but not right out of the box.
On another note, do you use ear protection at skeet ranges? Got some for your dog? There's a lot of older deaf dogs out there from stuff like this: better just limit exposure to just what is necessary for training, hunting, or competitions.
 

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I know it may be a little late now but this problem could have been solved as a puppy by making a lot of noise while feeding the dog. Banging the bowls or even firing a plank pistol while they are eating.
 

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Find a handful of friends or a group that trains dogs. There will more than likely be one close to you. Keep your pup on a lead and atleast a hundred yards or so from where training is taking place. Let her watch the other dogs, see the bumpers being thrown and hear the shots. More than likely after awile she will want to go over and join in the fun and excitement. Don't drag her over there or try to force her. Let her take her time. She will see that the other dogs are not afraid and she has nothing to fear. It may take one or two trips , but will be well worth while. A truely "gun shy dog is usually created and harder to cure than doing it right the first time. PM me your location if you need help finding training group.
 

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Having been there and seen Freesp001's dog react, it was a conservative situation and the dogs reaction wasnt real bad. The senerio was one shot fired at a distance of 60-75 yrds, attempted to distract the pup with a fun bumper as the shot was fired. The dogs reaction was a quick turn and slight jump towards the sound and a tucked tail. My thought is next time we increase the distance, change to 22 blanks, and do a better job of distracting the dog. The dog is still young and very moldable, shouldnt be too hard to change his reaction if we go slow and easy.
 

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Greg E said:
Find a handful of friends or a group that trains dogs. There will more than likely be one close to you. Keep your pup on a lead and atleast a hundred yards or so from where training is taking place. Let her watch the other dogs, see the bumpers being thrown and hear the shots. More than likely after awile she will want to go over and join in the fun and excitement. Don't drag her over there or try to force her. Let her take her time. She will see that the other dogs are not afraid and she has nothing to fear. It may take one or two trips , but will be well worth while. A truely "gun shy dog is usually created and harder to cure than doing it right the first time. PM me your location if you need help finding training group.
I agree with this. This technique works wonders, especially for a pup that is on the fence. My dad used this a couple of weeks ago on his pup. After a 22 blank fired at 100 yds made her nervous, he put her back in the kennel and pulled out the veteran. He had his help shoot and throw the dummy while the little one watched the ol' Vet burn out after the dummy time and time again. That one day of "torture" for the pup watching Aunt Tequi have all the fun was all it took. She hasnt payed mind to another shot since then and is now energized by the shot.
 

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Huntvizsla, I would be careful about using a distraction before firing the gun. If the pup is chasing bumpers or whatever and hears the crack of a 22 she is going to flinch.
 

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I trained a lab that was a little gun shy at an early age. She literally loved to retrieve especially in water. I took her out in the flat bottom aluminum boat and threw the bumper a couple of times with great retrieves. She didn't just jump in the water but launched. The third time as she was in mid air I fired gun. She looked back the first shot but quickly finished the retrieve. I did again and she did not flinch. After a few more times I shot the gun then threw the bumper. After a while she would go on point when I raised the gun. Just an example of what worked for me.
 
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Everyone has given some sound advise. You just have to remember that every dog has a diffrent tempermant and personality and it's your job to train with that in mind. The dog that is very timid in everything they do have to be coached along at a slower rate and socialized in moderation and when the light bulb turns on watch out. The alpha dog that charges into every situation can learn through our faults without getting their feelings hurt as easily. The main thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy your pup. The time we have to enjoy them is way too short.
 

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This is what i did. I bought a cap pistol and fired it every so often when she would eat out of her bowl.

gspmike said:
I know it may be a little late now but this problem could have been solved as a puppy by making a lot of noise while feeding the dog. Banging the bowls or even firing a plank pistol while they are eating.
 

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what kind of dog is it?
how old is it?
has the pup been on birds?
since huntvisla was there helping, is it a pointing dog or a retriever?

i'm a firm believer that you can't make a bird dog without birds. don't care if it's a lab or not. My recommendation is to find a buddy or someone with pigeons or quail. let the dog chase the heck out of them. as the dogs chasing his heart out pop the starter pistol. but the dog needs to be chasing with full steam, no looking back, no concern about anything other than the bird he's chasing. the pistol shot needs to be nothing more than background noise. if your dog doesn't chase that hard, then keep letting him chase until he does before shooting. and it's very important, have a bird in your hands behind your back and if that dog turns around and looks at you when you shoot, toss the bird, let him chase it. this will not work if the dog doesn't have prey drive, so build it's prey drive.

whatever you do, do not kneel down and tell the dog it's going to be ok and pet him. by doing that you're telling him that he had reason to be scared of it. you walk on as if you never heard the gun and it's no big deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The dog is a Vizsla and is 11 months old. I bought a cap gun and am shooting it at feeding time. He just looked up for half a second and started eating again.
 
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