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.
I understand what you're saying, but what Casso has said makes the most sense to me. At 18 months, the dog works hard. He hunts perfectly, he retrieves steadily, he's great on the whistle. There are room for improvements, obviously, such as we need to work on his hand signals and casting, and also he isn't so great on very long retrieves, but other than that - he does the job fine.
I don't see why he should miss out on a few days of the season, or the whole season, just because he gets nervous around close gun fire. This is a very formative part of the dogs life, and everything that he does now will make him into the dog he will be in 5 years time. Like I've previously said, when he's hunting or retrieving, it's the happiest you'll see him. If I can get him to understand that split second of unease when a gun goes off is followed up by hunting or retrieving, eventually he'll understand that you don't get to work without hearing guns. Dogs are clever like that.
Also, I'm interested to see why you think that standing in a field, throwing a dummy while someone shoots a shotgun 100+ yards away is BETTER than me standing in the field, sending him into hunt a patch of bramble, while someone shoot a shotgun 100+ yards away. I understand the former is obviously better when he's being introduced to gunfire, but he's already been through that. Now it's time for him to make the association between that noise, and working for real game.
I hope you can see my point!