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Thread: Troubles in Paradise slight gun shyness?

  1. #1
    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Default Troubles in Paradise slight gun shyness?

    Well, Ember my newly adopted WPG found ptarmigan but we also found a problem. I mentioned in another thread that I tested her with chukar and the primer pistol starting at a distance and moving in as she showed no sign of concern. I even shot a bird over her...no sign of gun shyness.
    However when we found ptamigan this weekend she showed signs of wariness. The first bird I shot was over another dog, she was nearby. She did not run but froze in place. Probably should have stopped there but having shot over her the day before, I thought she would need to see and smell the birds to engage in the retreive. She went on and hunted just fine, we found another group, she actually backed for a short time then moved up and pointed the birds for a long time while I hiked up. We made sure she had a good look and sniff and flushed them for her to see. My friend shot one bird and Ember took several steps back away, she didnt run. We got her over the the area and she was totally fired up over the downed bird, retrieving playing etc.
    Afterwards, she went on to hunt, find, point and trail running birds like a pro. I tired to even get her to chase for fun, she wouldnt really break. I left the field after she flushed a group, my friend hunted some more and found shot a few birds for his dog.

    So, I plan to do lots of noise desensitization and more chukar separately with no noise and eventually bring them together again. Has anyone experienced this before....how would you proceed. I have always had pups and had no trouble introducing gunfire. I am thinking that I will continue as if she were a new pup. I have started with wooden blocks during feeding.
    My friend and I were both surprised since the day before she showed no signs of shyness at all. I dont think she is ruined, but I have to be patient and step back.
    Any ideas would be appreciated....Is my plan reasonable?

    Positive note...I got a photo of her pointing with birds in front of her...can you spot the birds?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2

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    I'm here to see what the pros have to say. I'm sure they'll weigh in here in a bit. That is an awesome picture by the way.

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    Default

    Truly... nice picture.

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    Default Im no pro...

    I do have a question. When you checked her with the chukar was the other dogs there? Also what happens when you fire a gun when there are no birds around. Just eliminating variables. I worked with a shorthair that was gun shy once.

    Check this tread.

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=40456

    Oh and sweet picture!
    I'm going to ctrl-alt-delete you so hard your mama's computer is going to reboot.

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    I wouldn't be too concerned considering she's still loving to hunt and retrieve. She likely just hasn't associated the loud noise with a bird and a retrieve just yet. What I do with labs that exibit this behavior, is throw them a happy bumper out front, and as soon as they start back, shoot and throw another bumper behind me. Their focus on the new throw soon has them ignoring the shot, and they soon associate a shot with a retrieve. Good intro for memory birds and diversions as well.

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    Burke,

    Interesting! I don't recall how old this dog is, but I suspect it's a very young pup?

    If I read your post correctly...although, interesting behavior and something you should be thinking a lot about and watching closely, one time out and having this strange experience might not be enough empirical data, so to speak. Sounds like she was overly cautious, not gunshy?

    I like your idea of going slowly, back to basics, and being very careful. As you very well know, the important operative word for a pup is FUN! Everything must be fun for now with lots of praise.

    I wonder how you introduced birds? A locked-wing pigeon thrown for her perhaps? I think your plan and maybe some more work on building her prey drive with birds can't hurt. She sounds like a good pointng dog, but maybe a bit cautious of those funny looking white birds?

    I'm betting your careful, back to basics approach will work just fine. Let us know.

    Good luck!

    Jim

  7. #7
    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Default Variables and assumptions

    Jim, I adopted her at 1.5 years...it is a bit vague how she was introduced to birds and gunfire. The original owner told me she hunted in South Dakota her first year and has not had much since. I get the feeling based on his story and her behavior that he introduced guns and birds together....not something I do.

    Obviously my tests were not over enough time and varied. I learned (AGAIN) not to go too fast and assume that a one time event does not a bird dog make.

    The following day with ptarmigan, there were variables like Byrd Hnter says....another dog, new species, flock of birds instead of single etc.

    I do have to give credit to my hunting partner. He could have easily been POd and continued to shoot birds for his dog, making things worse, yet he understood and just took it in stride. I felt bad for my Britt, she too was frustrated with dad...she worked hard and was doing her part.

    You might be right, she is not a really confident dog. I dont feel it is true gun shyness, but I do think she has great potential. She pointed like a veteran dog and I couldnt get her to (Break) chase the ptarmigan. She searched them out, but held pretty darn steady.

    I will let her continue to chase chukar and pigeons for awhile. She has been out in the yard as I release pigeons from the coop and she gets wild about them.
    She is not responding to the wooden blocks over food. I will be adding the primer pistol outside as she eats and then at a distance with play and then with birds.....other ideas are welcome.

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    Default My 2 cents

    I had a similar experience. My young dog was definitely gun shy, but only because of my inexperience as a dog owner and failure to properly introduce the dog to the gun. I was depressed about the situation, more at myself than the dog, so I set out to rectify the situation, if possible. I asked some experienced hunting dog breeders, trainers, and NAVHDA judges if there was any hope. While the opinions from those in the know varied as to whether it was possible to fix a gun shy dog or not, those who believed it could be done had similar advice. I was skeptical when I was offered the following advice.
    First, forget obedience, forget the gun, and get the dog on as many live birds as possible in order to awaken the dog's prey drive. If you've ever had or seen a birdy gun dog, you know what I mean. Once your dog would rather be chasing or searching for a bird he knows is nearby, than eating, it's time to CAREFULLY introduce him to the gun.
    Do this by tethering a few birds, just out of reach of the dog, and having your gunner start a couple of hundred yards away. As the dog is going crazy trying to get to the birds, have your gunner move toward you and shoot occasionally.
    At some point, the dog will take notice of the gunner. When this happens, have the gunner pause and wait until the dog goes into a high rev bird mode again. The gunner will then resume shooting, but will not come closer until the dog is ignoring the gunfire. The gunner will then come closer, repeating the shoot, pause, move process.
    Ideally, the dog eventually (two or three exercises like this) realizes the gun is of no concern and will focus on the birds, even when the gun is close. At this point, you can resume the steadiness, retrieving, pointing, etc. training.
    This regimen worked for me, and Im grateful for this advice. I wish I had known about it before I got the dog on the wrong track.
    Good luck.

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    Burke,

    I've got to slow my life down a bit. I steal a moment from busy life to get on this computer now and then and quickly read through posts...sometimes too quickly. I'm missing something here now that I'm home and grabbing a few more moments to read your initial post.

    You're concerned because this pointing dog located wild birds, pointed those birds, and did not break at the shot and fall? What am I missing here?

    I train each of my dogs and any others I might help train to be steady to wing, shot and fall. They don't chase birds after my initial training. This is what most of us want in a pointing dog. My dogs fetch birds after I give them the command to do so. Sure, not everyone trains their pointing dog to do so, but this is a great thing for your pup to be doing. It seems she is being wary around wild birds she doesn't want to bump, but not afraid of the gun.

    Okay, I glanced down at your initial post again and see how you mentioned she backed off after the shot and before the retrieve. Interesting, but again I don't think this is a big deal at this time. From just that one time showing this odd behavior there is no way of knowing what's on her little mind, but I'd make a big deal of any little thing she does good. I guess I'd hunt her alone as well, nobody else shoots over her - and by "over her" I mean out front of her!- until I felt better about her reactions to this bird hunting stuff.

    Sounds to me like you've got yourself another bird dog on your hands. And good for you for adopting her. She's a lucky dog.

    Let us know how all this is going. I'd be real interested in knowing more about what you mean when you say she backed off at the shot.

    Best of luck,

    Jim

  10. #10
    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Default backing off the shot....

    This means she ran away form the birds after the shot....maybe 15 or 20 feet. I had to coax her over to the fallen bird. She did not go for it on her own. Once she got there she was excited about it.

    I am very pleased with her pointing and being cautious on birds, but running away from birds on the shot is troublesome.

    The confusing part for me is that she showed no signs of gun shyness the day before.

    Another interesting piece is she doesnt point well on the planted chukar...unlike her staunchness on ptarmigan. Today we went out and she flash pointed then busted in on the birds. It will be interesting to see how she approaches ptarmigan the next time we go out.
    I am thinking about tomorrow trying to find ptarmigan, without the gun to she how she goes. Part of me wants to stay with pigeons and chukar because she shows lots of fire. Maybe I should build that more before I go back to ptarmigan ??????
    Last edited by Burke; 01-30-2010 at 23:05. Reason: add

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    Burke,

    Did she just not want to retrieve, but instead want to go find more birds to point? That's pretty normal. I hope it wasn't the gunshot.

    I've only worked with one WPG, and that dog was on again, off again in how it handled birds. I think they mature later, for whatever that's worth.

    Interesting stuff. Wish I could see the dog working birds, or at least discuss this over a couple of beers. I'm hoping you two will work this out soon. The birds might fix it for you.

    Good luck! And let us know how all this goes.

    Jim

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    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Default today

    I went out today with pigeons and chukar....chased both with great vigor. She is showing good prey drive (even pulling on the check cord now), but she is definitely not pointing the planted birds. Typically at this stage I wouldnt let her chase, but given the circumstances I am. I did a couple of each and then decided to try shooting. While she was quite a distance out on chase I fired the primer pistol. Nothing, not a flinch.
    I am thinking that I will keep working the pigeons and shooting, making it progressively closer to the flush. If I can desensitize enough on pigeons, then I will actually go back to chukar and eventually shoot again in front of her.

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    Interesting stuff! Doesn't seem she's worried about gunfire. Concerns me how she's still chasing training birds.

    I sure wish you the best of luck with this dog. She's making it tough on you.

    Jim

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