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Thread: Intro to guns / birds question

  1. #1

    Default Intro to guns / birds question

    Hello everyone, I'm a long time reader of this forum but this is my first post. I've got a nine month old wirehaired pointing griffon that seems a little skittish/curious around sudden loud noises.(construction, air-nailers, garbage trucks etc.) He has not been formally introduced to gamebirds or shotguns yet.(a little late, I know) I've banged pots and pans while he is eating and that doesn't bother him. I am looking for advice on the best way to make sure that I don't make him become gun shy. Do you think that its a good idea to introduce him to the birds and the gun(from a distance of course), at the same time? Or do you think that I should do birds alone first and then bring in the gun? I also was thinking about starting with a cap gun because I live in Anchorage and could do that at the dog park while playing ball. He fetches like a retriever and swims like a lab, but he is kind of a sissy around sudden loud noises. Also, does anyone have any birds for sale? I appreciate any and all input and advice on this matter and thank you for your time in advance. Dave.

  2. #2

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    I'm no expert but if I were you I'd tackle each one separately. As far as which one first I'm not sure if it really matters at this stage in the game but I wouldn't wait around to introduce the gun if you were waiting on birds. That said, I'm sure its easier to introduce the pup to the gun right now.

    I'd recommend taking the dog to a familiar place and have him play around. Toss out some bumpers...let the pup have fun then have a buddy with a gun about 150 yards or so away shoot as the pup is making the retrieve. Have the guy shoot the gun in the opposite direction as the pup is running to make the retrieve. If no reaction then move the gunner forward but don't be in a rush. If a reaction then you need to decide what kind of reaction. Is the reaction...I'm really scared of that noise or is it I'm kinda curious of that noise but not a really big deal...or maybe the reaction is a short flinch while the dog is running. All of this is part of reading your dog.

    Most importantly, make haste slowly. Don't be in a rush to get your dog out there for opening day if the dog isn't ready. I know this is a really tough pill to swallow but understand the dog will be around for many moons so it might be a good idea to take your time this go around and benefit later down the line for many great seasons to come.

    I hope this helps,

    Richie

  3. #3
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    Well, these are two entirely different subjects, and each requires a quite lengthy reply-really too much to discuss in just a few posts. You need to make some contacts with some of the folks in the Arctic Bird Dog Assoc there in Anch. But, having said that, I'll offer a few tidibits of advice. Most important is that everything must be FUN! You really should have introduced pup to birds already, but that's okay. I'd take pup out to have some fun and I'd have along one training bird. Pigeons are best in my opinion. I'd tease pup with the hand-held bird and get him all fired up over the bird. I'd then lock the wings back (don't want pup to get smacked by a flapping wing) on said bird and toss it for him and let him hunt it up in grass or light brush. It's okay at this point if pup mauls the bird. Use a checkord and don't yank the bird away from pup after he picks it up and proudly carries it around. One of the best words the pup can ever here come from your mouth is "Gooood!" You are trying to identify and light up his desire for birds. That's just the very first step. There are plenty more.

    As to the gun fire...just like everything else in a pup's life it should be FUN! Preferably you'll intro gunfire after you've done a good job of introducing birds and pup has decided that besides you, the most important thing it its life are BIRDS! I'll intro gun fire at a great distance (maybe 75 yds) with a blank gun first, and move closer if pup is focused on a bird and has shown no interest so far in the blank gun firing. There is a lot more to this gun fire stuff.

    Again, you need to hook up with the guys and gals at the Arctic Gun Dog Assoc or go right out to Falcon Ridge. There you'll find folks willing to give you advice and sell you some birds. Another idea is to buy a copy of George Hickox training DVD. I'll bet Mountain View Sporting goods has one.

    What you are about to try and do are some of the things pro trainers get the little bucks for, but those bucks are well spent. It's not rocket science, but you want to do it all right. Most dogs get through all this stuff without any problems at all. I've seen guys intro gunfire to a pup by firing off a shotgun round right next to a dog in a kennel, the absolute worst thing you could ever do, and yet the pup got through it real fine. Folks will also take pups to the trap/skeet range and make them sit nearby as they shoot a round or two. The next worst thing you could do! But most pups get through it okay. But it sounds like your pup is showing signs of being a bit sensitive to gun fire, so heed those signals and go at this stuff very slow and with great thought.

    You can screw up most anything in dog training and the dog will eventually fix it on its own...except for gun shyness. Go slow. Make it all FUN.

    Just a few random thoughts from a guy who has trained quite a few dogs, but certainly not everything that can be said on these two subjects. It helps to have a local mentor, someone who has been there and done all that, or to watch a good trainer, or hire a good trainer, or to be ****ed lucky.

    Find someone to help you in person and let us know how pup comes along.

    Best of luck to both of you!
    Jim

  4. #4
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    Default Navhda

    Dave,

    Whereabouts in Anchorage are you located? There is NAVHDA testing this weekend, starting tomorrow, at Falcon Ridge. You might want to come out and meet other versatile hunting dog owners, etc. There will be a couple of WPGs running NA testing, including mine.

    http://greatlandnavhda.org/

    I have been training my first versatile dog, a 15 mo WPG, with others in NAVHDA. It definitely helps to have others to work with along with reading books. I would recommend Joan Bailey's books along with NAVHDA "Green book".

    If you can't make to the testing this weekend, I can pick up a couple of birds for you from Falcon Ridge if you want. I live in Eagle River...much closer to you than Falcon Ridge. Gary from Falcon Ridge has the birds for sale for $15 each.

    Regards,

    yhc

  5. #5

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    Thank you all for the advice, there is alot of useful information here. Richie, thanks for the reply. I've been following your progress with Banks and it looks like you both are having a great time. YHC, I wont be able to attend the NAVHDA event because I work on the slope and wont be home for another two weeks, but thank you so much for the invitation and the offer on the birds. Regretfully, I'll have to decline but I would love to get together with you sometime in the future. Jim, I think I've read all your posts and as usual, great advice. I wanted to enroll Boone in the novice class with the Arctic Gun Dog Assoc. but my work schedule wouldn't allow it. I plan on going out to Falcon Ridge but I wanted to introduce him to gunfire before we got there, I was worried that there might be too much shooting for his first trip. I have two more questions, 1) what kind of birds do they raise and sell at Falcon Ridge? and, 2) How do you "lock the wings back"?

  6. #6
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    You know, work just gets in the way of a lot of fun things in life. Ain't fair!

    Let me see if I can stumble through a written description of locking the wings back. You lift each wing up above the bird's body and bring the right wing over the back and over onto the left side of the bird. Do likewise with the left wing, crossing over to the right side of the body. And then spread some of the primaries and interlock them. In this way the bird isn't injured and can still fly after you later unlock them (cause you'll eventually let the bird fly off and begin teaching pup how he cannot continue to catch birds) while also ensuring said bird will not flap its wings and scare the pup. Once you unlock the pups genetic desire for birds he won't care one bit about flapping wings or anything else; all he'll want is to get a bird in his mouth. If this locking the wings stuff is not easy for you, there is always the back-up plan of wrapping a piece of tape around each wing, capturing the wing feathers that allow the bird to fly. But with the tape, or some sort of velcro used thusly, the bird can still use its wings enough to possibly scare the pup. I trap pigeons for bird work. They are strong fliers, easy to deal with, and if I screw something up and the pup turns off to pigeons for a bit, no big deal, they are game birds I'll be pursuing anyhow, they are only training birds.

    Keys to success= Birds, Birds, Birds...and FUN, FUN, Fun...and Repetition, Repition, Repitition.

    Sorry you have to work so much, but hope you and pup can get all this done. Don't hurry it. Enjoy the adventure. You two have at least 10 years ahead of you to enjoy all sorts of bird hunting in the greatest place on earth.

    Boots off. Beer open.

    Jim

  7. #7
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    Dave,

    Regardless of the process you use to introduce your dog to gunfire... go slow. A young dog can be overwhelmed easier then you think. If your dog is a strong retriever, I would consider a dummy launcher. I used a dummy launcher to introduce my dog to gunfire. I tossed her the dummy a few times each day until she would get really excited, then I used the dummy launcher. I started out with two or three lauches, & within a week we were up 10 launches. If you can make the training fun, your pup will progress quickly. You can buy a laucher & dummy at Sportsman's for about $100 plus blanks.

    http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/pod/standard-pod-wrapped.jsp?id=0014191&navCount=1&parentId=cat2086 4&masterpathid=&navAction=push&cmCat=MainCatcat603 205-cat20864_TGP&parentType=index&indexId=cat20864&rid ==

  8. #8
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    Good evening Dave,

    Falcon Ridge has chukars and pheasants. You are welcome to PM me when you get back in town.

    Regards,

  9. #9
    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Probably good that you are not available to go to the NAVDHA event...unless you went without the dog. I have seen too many folks take a dog to an event with gunfire all around, new dogs, new sights etc to introduce them to gunfire for the first time. It is overwhelming and does not always work out well. The worst is the guy/gal who takes their dog to the gun range as an introduction. They bang away at targets for an hour or two while the dog shivers, quakes and pees itself in the truck and then the owner wonders why the dog is gun shy.

    Off the soap box...much good stuff written already.

    Taping or velcro the wings is a good trick for chukar too...they make little shaped velcro straps specifically for that purpose.

    Falcon Ridge will allow a couple visits before he asks you to join. If you go there be sure you tell Gary that you have a new pup and dont run him in a field next to someone who is going to be firing a bunch of shots that you cannot predict. If Gary is not busy he might even help you.
    I have access to a chukar here in Palmer that I could sell as well. I also have homing pigeons that I "rent" for $1.00 per flight and could meet you some evening near Eklutna if you wanted to drive less than all the way to Falcon Ridge.
    Sorry the ABDA Novice didn't work for you.

  10. #10

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    Burke, I posted a message on your profile message board.

  11. #11
    Member Burke's Avatar
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    email sent

  12. #12

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    Thanks, got it!

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