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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!

 

After re-reading your original post I see the dog had issues with the .22 blanks, which I had somehow not processed before. I have a question. What gun breaking did you do with this dog before you took it out on a shoot? How long/how many gun breaking sessions?

I should have probably elaborated on that. My apologies!

 

His first gun breaking sessions were done last winter, where I would take a starter pistol and fire .22 blanks (shorts). This was done at about 100 yards away by a friend, whilst I would stand with the dog and pet him / praise him if he didn't react. At the start, he never got nervous, he just used to look in the direction of the shot and his ears would prick/move.

 

Eventually we got closer and closer, and we did this until summer this year.

 

When I was using .22 blanks with the dummy launcher, they were longs, not short - so they are definitely louder. I was also firing the dummy launcher right next to the dog, as opposed to shooting it 100 yards away like we did with the starter pistol.

 

This is when he started to get nervous around the .22 long blanks, originally when we started gun breaking him, .22 short blanks didn't phase him at 100 yards. Perhaps this is where he has developed this nervousness - the gap between using the shorts at 100 yards and the longs right next to him.

 

I agree with your last post about using a hybrid of your model and Casso's model to gunbreak him completely. Every dog is different, and while I agree with you that taking him shooting every second Saturday alone won't make him 100% gunbroken, I do think it will help. The weekends inbetween each shoot date I will go back a few steps and perhaps use the 22 short blanks on him at closer range.

 

I'll keep everyone updated on how he does.

 

I'm also incredibly surprised at how much attention this thread has garnered - it's really true about what they say about everyone having their own way of training dogs!

 

My uncle seems to think that gunbreaking dogs with starter pistols is a waste of time, and you should just take them out shooting and let them get used to it - but I digress with that.

So you thought a dog that showed nervousness when moving from .22 shorts, to louder .22 longs wouldn't have an issue moving from .22 longs to shotgun blasts nearby? Hmmm.....

I only used the dummy launcher after his first time near shotgun fire. He wasn't showing any nervousness on the shorts, and I didn't bother using the longs as they are reserved for the dummy launcher, and that is only used when I want him training long retrieves.

So you thought you'd go from .22 shorts directly to shotgun blasts nearby? Hmmm.....(sound of hand slapping forehead)

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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!

After re-reading your original post I see the dog had issues with the .22 blanks, which I had somehow not processed before. I have a question. What gun breaking did you do with this dog before you took it out on a shoot? How long/how many gun breaking sessions?

I should have probably elaborated on that. My apologies!

 

His first gun breaking sessions were done last winter, where I would take a starter pistol and fire .22 blanks (shorts). This was done at about 100 yards away by a friend, whilst I would stand with the dog and pet him / praise him if he didn't react. At the start, he never got nervous, he just used to look in the direction of the shot and his ears would prick/move.

 

Eventually we got closer and closer, and we did this until summer this year.

 

When I was using .22 blanks with the dummy launcher, they were longs, not short - so they are definitely louder. I was also firing the dummy launcher right next to the dog, as opposed to shooting it 100 yards away like we did with the starter pistol.

 

This is when he started to get nervous around the .22 long blanks, originally when we started gun breaking him, .22 short blanks didn't phase him at 100 yards. Perhaps this is where he has developed this nervousness - the gap between using the shorts at 100 yards and the longs right next to him.

 

I agree with your last post about using a hybrid of your model and Casso's model to gunbreak him completely. Every dog is different, and while I agree with you that taking him shooting every second Saturday alone won't make him 100% gunbroken, I do think it will help. The weekends inbetween each shoot date I will go back a few steps and perhaps use the 22 short blanks on him at closer range.

 

I'll keep everyone updated on how he does.

 

I'm also incredibly surprised at how much attention this thread has garnered - it's really true about what they say about everyone having their own way of training dogs!

 

My uncle seems to think that gunbreaking dogs with starter pistols is a waste of time, and you should just take them out shooting and let them get used to it - but I digress with that.

So you thought a dog that showed nervousness when moving from .22 shorts, to louder .22 longs wouldn't have an issue moving from .22 longs to shotgun blasts nearby? Hmmm.....

I only used the dummy launcher after his first time near shotgun fire. He wasn't showing any nervousness on the shorts, and I didn't bother using the longs as they are reserved for the dummy launcher, and that is only used when I want him training long retrieves.

So you thought you'd go from .22 shorts directly to shotgun blasts nearby? Hmmm.....(sound of hand slapping forehead)

 

So you're saying that you aren't supposed to progress from a starter pistol to a shotgun? Every book and website/video I've researched says otherwise. I guess we don't have the luxury of going from a starter pistol to a pistol to a shotgun on this side of the Atlantic.

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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!

 

After re-reading your original post I see the dog had issues with the .22 blanks, which I had somehow not processed before. I have a question. What gun breaking did you do with this dog before you took it out on a shoot? How long/how many gun breaking sessions?

I should have probably elaborated on that. My apologies!

 

His first gun breaking sessions were done last winter, where I would take a starter pistol and fire .22 blanks (shorts). This was done at about 100 yards away by a friend, whilst I would stand with the dog and pet him / praise him if he didn't react. At the start, he never got nervous, he just used to look in the direction of the shot and his ears would prick/move.

 

Eventually we got closer and closer, and we did this until summer this year.

 

When I was using .22 blanks with the dummy launcher, they were longs, not short - so they are definitely louder. I was also firing the dummy launcher right next to the dog, as opposed to shooting it 100 yards away like we did with the starter pistol.

 

This is when he started to get nervous around the .22 long blanks, originally when we started gun breaking him, .22 short blanks didn't phase him at 100 yards. Perhaps this is where he has developed this nervousness - the gap between using the shorts at 100 yards and the longs right next to him.

 

I agree with your last post about using a hybrid of your model and Casso's model to gunbreak him completely. Every dog is different, and while I agree with you that taking him shooting every second Saturday alone won't make him 100% gunbroken, I do think it will help. The weekends inbetween each shoot date I will go back a few steps and perhaps use the 22 short blanks on him at closer range.

 

I'll keep everyone updated on how he does.

 

I'm also incredibly surprised at how much attention this thread has garnered - it's really true about what they say about everyone having their own way of training dogs!

 

My uncle seems to think that gunbreaking dogs with starter pistols is a waste of time, and you should just take them out shooting and let them get used to it - but I digress with that.

So you thought a dog that showed nervousness when moving from .22 shorts, to louder .22 longs wouldn't have an issue moving from .22 longs to shotgun blasts nearby? Hmmm.....

I only used the dummy launcher after his first time near shotgun fire. He wasn't showing any nervousness on the shorts, and I didn't bother using the longs as they are reserved for the dummy launcher, and that is only used when I want him training long retrieves.

So you thought you'd go from .22 shorts directly to shotgun blasts nearby? Hmmm.....(sound of hand slapping forehead)

So you're saying that you aren't supposed to progress from a starter pistol to a shotgun? Every book and website/video I've researched says otherwise. I guess we don't have the luxury of going from a starter pistol to a pistol to a shotgun on this side of the Atlantic.

From my post on page 1 of this thread;

 

"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."

 

Did you do anything that resembles this step? Or did you just expect the dog to smoothly transition from .22 to shotgun? You've given very little explaination of how you gun broke this dog.

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Right, thought I'd give a little update to the people following this thread.

 

Saturday just gone was the shoot day. I took out the dog, and the way the shoot works is we have 4 pheasant drives and a duck drive at the end of the day. The duck drive is where the dog got nervous last time, so I went with the intention of taking him back to the car if he started getting too scared during that.

 

The first 4 pheasant drives went swimmingly. Asher was working cover crops and bramble, and could hear the gunshots in the distance - but seemingly, they did not bother him at all. He was too occupied with his nose to the ground to really take notice.

 

Come the duck drive, he was not nervous a fraction of the amount that he was the week before on the duck only day. He was still staying close to me, but during retrieves and even inbetween he was generally much happier with the gunshot closer to him.

 

I think that the hours of him working and hearing gunshots leading up to the duck drive at the end of the day had conditioned him like Casso said.

 

I'm still going to take everyone elses advice and continue him on the starter pistol during his weekend training sessions, but Casso's advice about not dropping off with the work just because he was getting a bit shaky around gun fire seemed to work the best.

 

Thanks to EVERYONE who posted in this thread, the information here is invaluable and I appreciate all of the time you took to post a reply.

 

All the best.

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