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fabiomilitello

Early Stages Of Gun-Shyness

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Hi all,

 

Just a quick post to see if anyone has any suggestions on how to iron out the early stages of gunshyness in my Labrador.

 

Asher is 18 months, I took him out on the first day of our shooting season at the small shoot I beat on, and as it was a duck only day he was mostly picking up. He picked up every bird I sent him in for, but I noticed he was a bit sketchy every time a gun would go off. The guns were very close, and every time a shot would go off, I'd notice he would crouch very low to the ground and almost crawl. But once he was sent in for a retrieve, his tail would be wagging and it was back to normal.

 

I want to sort out this hiccup before it becomes full blown gunshyness. I took him out on the Saturday after the shoot with a bag full of dummies and a dummy launcher that fires .22 blanks. I was using that, and he was again, crouching very low to the ground whenever the dummy launcher was fired, but once I sent him in to go hunt for the dummy, he was wagging his tail.

 

Next week, I'm going to try and just throw the dummy while a friend of mine shoots a 12 bore about 100 yards away.

 

Does anyone else have any similar stories, problems, or suggestions on how I can nip this in the bud before it's too late?

Thanks!

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Id start further than 100 yards more like 300 better safe than sorry givng the dog treats and praise slowly getting closer even if it takes weeks because if you rush it can go badly wrong. Ive heard there is tape recordings that you can buy for kennels with slowly increasing bangs. Probably get them on internet. Best of luck.

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Tip No 1 --- Throw the launcher in a river

 

Tip No 2 ... Do not go and look for it - ever !

 

Tip No 3 ... Give yourself a proper kick up the a**** for not putting your dog away in the car the first time you saw him 'fold' You do not take a young inexperienced dog beside somebody with a shotgun :icon_eek::censored: A gentle introduction to Shot is a crucial stage in a dogs training.

 

Suggestion .. Stand well away from any Gun line and let him only retrieve during the lulls in the shooting (ask that nobody fires a shot when he is close bye) Once (hopefully) he shows no adverse reaction to the shots then slowly move closer - if this takes weeks then let it take weeks.

 

Jangles

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I almost completely agree with Jangles. A dog must be introduced to gun fire slowly. You may well have ruined your dog.

 

I gun break my dogs as very young pups, well before they are a year old. I do this very slowly. I start with loud , startling sounds at meal time. Usually just by clapping two pan lids together.

 

After a week or so I'll start outside with a starter pistol w/ .22 blanks. I do this someplace where the pup can run. I'll throw a tennis ball down a hill with the pup in pursuit, and pop the shot when he pup is far away. I'll not acknowledge the pup's reaction in anyway. Usually my wife and I just keep talking, and act like we've had nothing to do with the shot. As the pup realizes the shot is nothing special, over a week or two I'll pop them off at lesser distances until the pup is infazed even when heeling. The reaction of the pup is the gauge of how fast you can move along, but I always take my time and stick with the starter pistol for quite a while, maybe 4-5 weeks.

 

My next step is to bring the pup to the skeet club. The pup should be retrieving well, and pretty much crazy about it when I start this. I will park well away from the skeet field, 100-200 yards. With the pup on a long check cord I'll start playing with it behind the car, with the dog crate open. I make it fun, bounce a tennis ball for it to catch, and tease it up. Then. With a retrieving bumper I'll slowly move forward, tossing short retrieves. Never acknowledge the shooting or the pups reaction. As the time goes by we eventually get right to the skeet field. But, even if the pup shows no fear of the shooting. I always start well away from the skeet field every time we go there. Also, it doesn't happen overnight. Just because your dog shows no fear one day, don't assume it will still be fearless the next day. Take it slowly.

 

As for the dummy launcher; don't throw it in the river, but put it away for a while. It's not a gun breaking tool, but a retrieving training tool. Break it out again when your dog is gun broke, and need to work on long marks.

 

Good luck.

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Sound advice guys,

 

Next shoot date is in 2 weeks, but this one will be a pheasant shoot so the guns will be much further away from us. On the duck day, the guns were very close, virtually standing next to me and the dog - which is why I think he got a bit scared.

 

When he was a pup I used to bang his metal food bowl on the floor whilst he was eating from it, and also clap behind him as he was eating his dinner. I've had him on a starter pistol with .22 shorts, but he is fine with that. At about 100 yards, sometimes for a split second before I send him in for a retrieve, he'll stand tall and look over at where the gun went off, but he doesn't fold. I think it's more his curiosity.

 

Next weekend I'll go back to using the starting pistol at about 100 yards, until he doesn't even flinch. The week after that, I'll use longs instead of shorts for a bit more of a bang and see how he reacts.

 

The week after that is the shoot day, and if I still don't think he's ready, I'll put him in the car before the duck drive starts.

 

Also, the dummy launcher isn't mine to throw it into a river! It was kindly lent to me, so it'll be going back in my cupboard until the dog needs to work on his long retrieves :laugh:

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Forget the shoot in two weeks. You'll just hurry the process and push the dog too much. With what you've described already, I expect the dog will already have some anxiety about gunfire and need more time than a pup normally would.

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I'd class your dog as gun nervous as opposed to gunshy, there is a difference.

If he was truly gunshy he'd be off when a shot was fired.

One of my dogs was exactly the same, I'd used the same methods with him as all the other dogs, banging bowls, starter pistol, shotgun at a distance eventually working my way in.

He never bolted, he just looked uncomfortable and like yours was keen to go for the shot bird.

I used him on as a beating dog to start with, gradually getting closer to the guns and the noise getting louder.

With everything going on around him, birds moving etc he wasn't aware of the gunshots getting louder and closer and they had stopped before we got close enough to affect him.

A few birds to pick and he was in fine fettle,

Making the day enjoyable and the distraction worked for me, might not for everyone.

Gunshot over the top of him is now not a problem.

I'd also add he is the most sensitive dog I've ever seen never mind owned.

Good luck.

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Keep him at it don't drop off with the work , when a dog is in a driven state of mind it can turn the negetive into a positive , it's the driven mindset that makes the association

With a static or normal situation the dog can't process the shots , as he matures and settles into his work his association with gun shots and work /drive develops into the norm

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I'd class your dog as gun nervous as opposed to gunshy, there is a difference.

If he was truly gunshy he'd be off when a shot was fired.

One of my dogs was exactly the same, I'd used the same methods with him as all the other dogs, banging bowls, starter pistol, shotgun at a distance eventually working my way in.

He never bolted, he just looked uncomfortable and like yours was keen to go for the shot bird.

I used him on as a beating dog to start with, gradually getting closer to the guns and the noise getting louder.

With everything going on around him, birds moving etc he wasn't aware of the gunshots getting louder and closer and they had stopped before we got close enough to affect him.

A few birds to pick and he was in fine fettle,

Making the day enjoyable and the distraction worked for me, might not for everyone.

Gunshot over the top of him is now not a problem.

I'd also add he is the most sensitive dog I've ever seen never mind owned.

Good luck.

 

This is exactly what I was thinking - he wasn't running away or bolting off in a random direction away from the guns when a shot popped off. He just looked very uneasy, kept looking up at me and keeping very close to me. He is also a sensitive dog, which may be why!

 

I plan on just keeping him in the beating line for the time being, I think that with the gunshots going off at more of a distance, and with him working through cover and bramble (he loves it), he will eventually make the connection between doing what he loves - hunting, and hearing gunshots.

 

I don't want to have to leave him at home where he is going to miss out on invaluable experience at his young age.

 

Thanks for your reply

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Get a starter pistol and shoot it next to the dogs ear when it's eating. If it shits itself.... kick it ;)

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I don't recommend your plan. But good luck with him either way.

I'm trying to get your thinking on that with the greatest respect ?

My thinking on it is that the young dog is been shown that the sound of the gun means work , its showing what you want him to do , when you want him to do it and if he grasps that everything in the hunting environment becomes a positive in his mind including the gun shot

 

He associates his surroundings when working with the most positive experience he gets while out

I can't see what holding him back would do , I'd push him on through always trying to make the last half hour most memorable and positive while out , the end of the day is the bit that sticks most before the next time , end on a high ,

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I don't recommend your plan. But good luck with him either way.

I'm trying to get your thinking on that with the greatest respect ?

My thinking on it is that the young dog is been shown that the sound of the gun means work , its showing what you want him to do , when you want him to do it and if he grasps that everything in the hunting environment becomes a positive in his mind including the gun shot

 

He associates his surroundings when working with the most positive experience he gets while out

I can't see what holding him back would do , I'd push him on through always trying to make the last half hour most memorable and positive while out , the end of the day is the bit that sticks most before the next time , end on a high ,

 

Hi Casso, always enjoy your posts and the insights you share. My reasoning is that this 18 month old dog is showing timidity at the sound of gunfire. Worse is the fact that this is happening at, like you said the time when dog should be having it's most positive experiences. Moving on as he suggested could backfire while the safer course is the tried and true model of doing everything in steps. I would recommend going back to the phase of training where the presence of gunfire didn't raise issues and start again slowly. Understanding as he does this that his dog may not have the temperament required for the job.

 

That's all I was thinking.

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