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Gunshy Spaniels - Can They Have Other Uses?

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hello. I am currently toying with the idea of rehousing a gunshy spaniel. The purpose I intend to use the dog for is to bush out game for a Harris hawk. I have not got a particular dog in mind, rather the idea. So I'm interested to know if anyone has any experience of this or thoughts or ideas. The dog would not be required to retrieve or be around guns. Just work cover. As I am unfamiliar with the shooting world, I am unsure if people who own such dogs just get rid of them or if they can cure them and keep them? Any thoughts? Cheers.

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I don't see a problem , given its out of working stock most springers have a natural inbread ability to hunt . Not knowing to much about working them to Hawks do you need them to be steady to game ? ie not running in when they flush or is it not a problem ..A pal of mine , more years ago than I care to remember , used a pointer with his bird that was rock steady .

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I don't know about spaniels, but I have one or two gun shy lurchers who don't have any other issues whatsoever: they just don't like things that go bang, not to the extent that they'd run and head for home if they hear one go off, but you can see their ears go back and they look worried for a bit. I guess a seriously gun shy dog that bolted into the distance when it heard a gun could be a major issue.


You can desensitise to a certain extent by prolonged, gentle and increasing in loudness exposure, coupled with rewarding the dog to relax when it hears gun shot: it all depends if the dog is of a nervous temperament in the first place, or if it's gun shyness is a result of incorrect introduction to loud noises/lack of early exposure/lack of proper socialisation etc.

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Wow thankyou to you all. In answer to your questionyes it would have to be steady to game. I take on board the opinion though that gunshy could be excuse for other issues. I could get a pup sure and I may yat. I just like the idea of giving a otherwise useless dog a second chance if you know what I mean. I too have a ridiculously gunshy lurcher. Runs miles to aa bang. Poor bugger. But she's great in all other areas. Thanks again everybody. Still open to thoughts on this.

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First comment. A gun shy spaniel. Why.?? How do you know the dog is gun shy? Second. why a spaniel? ie English Welsh Cocker etc. For the purposes of hawking surely any retriever would be worth considering.(I think I know where you are coming from but why bother).

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This calls for the "pop boo wow" method;


Basically get prepared with a starter pistol and long blanks.


Next get a nice juicy piece of sausage or cheese and get the dog to sit in front of you. Immediately shoot the gun off right in its face followed by the fastest kick to its jaw.

Then give it the treat.


This teaches the dog the obvious that good always follows bad. ;)

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Hi I had a gunshy cocker, as you walked to flush game you would turn around and she would be 50yards behind you. Without gun she would work a treat docking in, flushing game solid in every way apart when you had a gun in hand. Yes I would give it a chance you could be surprised, if it doesn't work out you put it up for rehoming. If you don't try her you will never know.

forgot to add I had her for 12 years. Also great for sweeping next day after driven day found many a pricked bird that was missed also what had dropped of roost.


Edited by seatrout
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That sounds encouraging. Not sure what to think now. Loads of mixed advice coming on this one. My main concern is if it would be ok with the bird. That's paramount. I suppose it would have to be stockbroker to chickens etc so it wouldn't be bothered by the bird. What puts me off a pup is the profiteering done by breeders. No one should be charging north of three hundred pound for ANY dog!!!!!!!!!

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