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Thread: Gun Shy

  1. #1
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    Default Gun Shy

    Due to my ineptitude in training dogs. My beautiful, intelligent GWP (16 mos) has become gun shy. He didn't start out that way. I have read that it is possible to overcome. But I need to send him to a professional. Any suggestions out there.

  2. #2
    Member byrd_hntr's Avatar
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    Default GSP gunshy

    I had a GSP that was gun shy and this worked for me. I had my brother walk about mile out into a field with a shotgun without the dog seeing. I put the dog on the lead and we just started doing what the dog wanted to do, walk, sniff, just what ever it wanted to do so it was happy but under my control. After I knew the dog was completely at ease, I took my hat off like, just like I was saying howdoyoudo to a nice old lady at the gorcery store. My brother was watching me through the binos. He then shot one time. Dog lifted its head and look but didnt seem too concerned. If it was we would have bagged it until the next day and started at 1.5 miles. My brother walked about 100yds closer and we repeated, all the while keeping the dog at ease. As soon as the dog started to get uneasy, cowering or show any fear, I took my hat off and put it on backwards, to singal to by bro to move back 100yds. It took about 2 weeks of every other night but by the end of the 2 weeks he could be standing right beside me and the dog only looked up at us and then kept on hunting. The key is you have to make it fun, and dont force them. And if they are bird crazy use that to your advantage. Cage a bird in the brush and work the dog on a lead while the shooter shots way off just like before. If the dog is concentrating on the bird, chances are that wont even notice.

    Funny thing is the dog that stated out gun shy... now you get a shotgun out and shoot it and he goes ape ****, he know exacticaly what it means, but if it thunders or there are fireworks he thinks the world is comming to and end. It all about state of mind. Remember to make it fun, that the key.

    Anyway my .02 and experience.

  3. #3
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    Default Skeet range

    I didn't have anyone to help me so I took my GSP to the the Skeet/trap range the first round left her in the back of the truck (about 100ft away) then the second round tied her to a bench about 50 feet away. Then i hooked her leash to my belt loop and fired 5 or 6 shots and she hasn't had a problem since. Like already stated by previous members take your time and watch the reactions of the dog it is already scared. If it starts shaking quit. So now whenever I shoot skeet or trap I take my dog with and its second nature. Now if she would calm down and hunt we have more fun.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Thanks for the reply. Like you MikeL I have had no one to work with. Which is has been part of the problem. My wife has offered to help more but our schedules differ so consisentcy is hard to work on. But the procedures are the same.

  5. #5

    Lightbulb different method

    byrd_hntr I like your method but just a small change. I like to add a visual effect to this. Have a friend with a dog with a bird launcher launching off birds at a distance of 200 yds while your dog sees this it excites him because it already likes to retrieve so with the desire to go over there and help out your dog will be less cautious and more interested. Make sure to take your time moving closer because dogs will sometimes become afraid if you move too fast and you will have to start all over and move even slower the next time. before you start get your dogs attention by throwing some dummies out and have your dog retrieve them this will get your dog in the retrieving mood. Do not rush this take it slow and this should help.

  6. #6
    Member Sterlingmike's Avatar
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    Default Gun Range

    I used the same method as MikeL at the Anchorage Gun Range with a yellow lab. Sat in the lot with him for a while. Moved closer at each visit and had fun with him while there. Now he runs TOWARDS the sound of gunfire. It really works.

    MM

  7. #7

    Default

    If this dog is birdy and / or loves to retrieve.....
    I can fix your problem.

  8. #8
    Member bird-dog's Avatar
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    Default Gun-shy

    CDP,

    As already stated by the others. Work slowly and the noise needs to be associated with fun. I started once my dog was just a pup. Once she was comfortable in the house and settled down every time I fed her I began to hit a pan / pot with a wooden stirring spoon. I then began to make meal time a very noisy affair. Good for the dog…Began to drive us crazy.

    Then as we went out on walks I took a .22 long rifle with blanks. I know it has a different sound, but it was still a pop and was fairly quite one at that. Then she also began to notice the rifle was a good thing…It meant a walk!!

    Then came the big mistake…I went to sight in my “high power” hunting rifles. I didn’t want her exposed to the noise so I kept her inside the Jeep…A soft to Jeep!! I proceeded to walk around the corner and sight them in.

    I came back o the jeep with a shaking scared dog that was hiding on the floor - Man what a lot of work ruined and down the toilet not to mention scaring my dog ˝ out of her mind. I felt like an idiot for my mistake not to mention how stupid I felt. There is a big difference between a shotgun in the open field and a “high power” hunting rifle 45 yards around the corner of a building in a soft top jeep. By the way…one of the rifles was a Weatherby 300 with a muzzle brake and they are noted for a loud sharp ear piercing crack for their report.

    Well, I called my breeder who scolded me for my mistake and began to tell me how to fix it. I had to make the rifle and the noise go together again in a fun environment! And by the way, no more shooting of the high power hunting rifles I needed to stick with the shotguns! I messed her up so bad buy my stupid mistake she would tuck her short little tail at the sight of a rifle and quickly walk away.

    The fix was to basically start over again and to get her into the birds as thick as you can find and hold off shooting for the first couple of times. Let her get birdie again - Then begin very slowly one at a time until the fun came back. I was assured it would works just fine and they had done this a number of times before. The noise has to be associated with fun!!! That was a lesion learned that I will never forget. As I stated a couple of paragraphs ago what I did is called my breeder…Give your breeder a call. Especially is he or she is a field bird dog breeder! My breeder was my best source of info…Or use a recommended pro trainer by your breeder.

    The reason I use past tense in the last part of the recovery of being Gun-Shy is my GSP became ill and passed prior to finishing the job. Un-related to bird hunting but, I started and noticed an improvement just prior to the field work. Good luck and God Bless!! Enjoy every minute you have with your dog! I had a GSP and she was my best friend and buddy! 3 years later I finally got OK with myself to get another one...I pick her up in about 2 weeks!!

    Very Respectfully
    bird-dog

  9. #9
    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sterlingmike View Post
    I used the same method as MikeL at the Anchorage Gun Range with a yellow lab. Sat in the lot with him for a while. Moved closer at each visit and had fun with him while there. Now he runs TOWARDS the sound of gunfire. It really works.

    MM
    Excellent advice.
    Take pups favorite play toy and some treats and make it an event. Better yet, take a frozen duck or grouse and talk "birds" with the dog; let him sniff and think about wild birds during the shooting time.
    If dog is really shy, park farther away. If not, pull right up.
    Those gunshots will slowly be accepted.

  10. #10
    Member Skookumchuck's Avatar
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    Default

    a buoy-launcher did wonders for my lab. She was nervous at first, but when she figured out how fun it was, she was all over it. Stepping up to shotguns was not a problem at all. If possible, fire a blank during feeding times...seemed to help....my pup loves food
    Nice Marmot.

  11. #11
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    Default

    I thought for the longest time that I would break my lab in by taking him to the range with me and keeping him in the truck, when I actually started fetching with 20ga. blanks he went ballistic and never made a retrieve, he would know that it was training time but would go nuts when the gun went off. I had to go back to square one and start with a cap gun without caps, just the clicking then finally put caps in and then a starter pistol then up to the shotgun before the duck season started. He did excellent for the most part with his gun shyness and I have just recently bought a bumper thrower and he was kinda standoffish when he firat heard the thing go off but loves it now.

  12. #12
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    Default

    Thanks for all the input. We tried a few different things, like shooting a cap gun outside with window open while he ate. He quit eating. What has been working is shooting .22 blanks from several hundred yards away while we throw dummies. While I was outside my wife even shot the cap gun while walking with him. Living in Seward I understand the Copper Landing Gun Club has a trap shoot on Sundays. I plan on going over there and play with him outside the range. We haven't gone to the launcher yet. I believe that is what caused him to shy away from noise. I think I surprised him with it. He is still very birdy and loves to retreive.
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  13. #13

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    STOP what you are doing !!!!!
    Do not expose him to gunfire at all right now... of any kind.
    If he quit eating .... that means he is about a basket case.

    First off when ever training a dog where you are exposing them to something new. Like gunfire.....you never look at the dog to see how they are going to react. That is the same as me staring at you and then slamming a book on the table. It will scare the crap out of you and the dog will relate the noise as to something negative. All they remember is you staring at them, which for us is innocent enough but when ever you stare at a dog it is negative or dominant behavior to them.

    Lots of folks will take there dog to the range to see how there dog will react. That is "testing" for a response and not training for the proper response. Not every dog is wired the same. Just because Bob took his dog to the range and never had any problems doesn't mean that Jack's dog is going to learn gunfire in the same manner. There are hard charging fearless dogs and then there are soft reserved ones. These dogs could even be from the same litter. It is simply a luck of the draw as to what you get. Plus dogs are a product of there environment. They won't know it unless they are taught it.

    I'm not chewing you out....I'll save that for later. PLEASE call me. I'll talk with you and set up a training program for you to follow. 632 0123

    Your dog needs a break. A long one. Don't try to fix this quickly. You will ruin your dog. Continue with retrieving and with birds, but no gunfire.

  14. #14
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    Default

    Wetlands, I'm in the same boat but haven't pushed the dog that far would you mind helping me to?

  15. #15

    Default

    Sure. PM me or call my number listed above.

  16. #16
    Member Sierra Hotel's Avatar
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    Default Kudos to Baron at Wetland Retrievers

    I hate to keep beating this drum, but I took my lab to Baron last year to 1) solve the gunshy issue in a 1 1/2 yo male lab, and 2) introduce him to birds. I've hunted him two seasons now, and I can say it was money well spent! Give Baron the chance . . .

    SH

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