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Thread: Gun shyness

  1. #21
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    [QUOTEOK, I am sorry for the adverse advise. I did not realize I would be barraged for having a slight opinion/suggestion.][/QUOTE]

    I got my first hunting dog was I was 19. I took him hunting for the first time and shot over him,,,he immediately ran between my legs and stayed htere for the first couple months. Luckily there were enough birds flushed back then to awaken his drive. I "fixed " it by continually shooting birds that flushed while he hugged tight to my leg.

    I would let him play with the birds and throw them for him. By the end of the season he was hunting upland like a champ. Do you think I introduce dogs to the gun like that these days. I lucked out his drive to chase birds out weighed his problem with loud noises that come out of no where. He eventually put the 2 events together despite my ignorance. It could have turned into something I could not fix by my self and I could of ended up with chesapeake's or flatcoats thinking it was the lab portion in him that was afraid of noise,( remember I was a newby back then and any odd thought was possible).

    There are best ways ,,good ways,,,ok ways and not so good ways to do things. Introducing gunfire by desensitizing is not a good way. That would be last resort and only if the dog lacked sufficient food,prey pack drive and if that were the case the dog wouldn't be suited for hunting any way,,so thats a wash. Introduce the dog to bangs by putting the dog in its highest sensory drive and let the dog make a correlation between the drive engagement and a light pop. then increase gradually.
    Last edited by Pete; 07-21-2013 at 06:42 PM.
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  2. #22
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    Taking a pup to a gun range isn't something I'd ever suggest for one reason- folks lose sight of the word progression, and there has to be something for a pup to associate it all with.

    Do believe it can serve as a form of background noise however.

    Think of all the pups in the world who listen to gunfire from their kennel standing on their back legs peering out through the fence while the trainer is in the nearby training field with other dogs.
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  3. #23
    Senior Member Mallard Mugger's Avatar
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    I like this Pete and this is exactly what we build off of.
    Introduce the dog to bangs by putting the dog in its highest sensory drive and let the dog make a correlation between the drive engagement and a light pop. then increase gradually.
    Get the dog good and crazy about birds and use a shackled bird during the intro to gun fire at a distance. Make the mark as easy as possible and start out with small pops first and gradually work them in. Repeat the process with a slightly louder pop, rinse and repeat until you built up to shotgun loads. Any signs of discomfort, dislike, etc., increase the distance. I love this method. Fixed several gun shy dogs this way. Wish I would of thought/heard about it sooner.

    As a kid, I remember helping Dad out by starting with paper lunch bags and popping them while eating and then moving up the scale in noise. Working it with retrieving crazy dog and a shackled bird is unbelievable! I have a 4 yr old BLM at home, that to this day, when he hears certain bangs is looking for birds. It's not surprising to see them looking for birds for a while when they hear fireworks, vehicles backfire, doors slamming, etc.. They do eventually weed out the gunfire from other noises. Tolerance for gun fire is no substitution for a desire for it.
    Last edited by Mallard Mugger; 07-22-2013 at 09:58 AM. Reason: Thinking faster than typing!!

  4. #24
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    I am by no means a master dog trainer like some here..In fact I am training my first lab who is now almost 12 months old with advice from trainers as well as COUNTLESS hours online, in books, and watching DVD's, my favorite being the book "10 Minute Retrieve" and DVD's by Dan Hosford (Which Are GREAT!) which i have found the most useful. I made sure my lab had obedience down, and also LOVED to retrieve bumpers/dead fowl trainers. Once we had this down, I met up with a friend over a few days and began. The essential plan was to eventually condition her to a 12 gauge with no signs of hesitation or nervousness. We started at a 100-150 yards away and did a few retrieves with her at my heel but not worried about being steady at this point. I threw the bumper, she ran for it and my friend shot the 22 rifle. We did this until she showed us signs she was bothered by the shot (stopping, looking, cowering) or until we were beside the shooter. We then went to a 410, 20 gauge, and then a 12 gauge. At any point if we noticed that she noticed or paid attention to the shot, we would either move further away from the shooter or stop for the day and just throw a few regular bumpers to end on a good note. This worked great for us and she progressed pretty quickly. We did this over the summer every once in a while once she was solid with the 12 gauge just to reinforce but always started with a little distance to be safe. She retrieves well, and I felt doing t this way kept me in control and limited the amount of variables that could go wrong....Just trying to help instead of giving you a hard time....

  5. #25
    Senior Member metalone67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LabLover45 View Post
    I introduce gun fire when they are eating. When eating they are doing something happy and it doesn't bother them. I feed them in their kennel and use a pellet gun air loaded only and start at the opposite side of the kennel room. As they get comfortable with the noise i slowly move closer to the kennel. If i see any problems i stop the introduction and wait untill the pup has aged a bit. I start intro to gun fire when pup is 10 or 11 weeks
    Ok you actually discharged a weapon inside a building? MMMMMK!
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  6. #26
    Senior Member metalone67's Avatar
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    I always start with a couple 2x4 while eating, then gradual move to something a little louder. Once they ignore that then it's to the field with them in a kennel and I'm a good way away from the truck. Then it's on to a live bird wing clipped and a light 20 gage load fired the opposite direction.
    What you're trying to do is associated loud noise with happy exciting things taking place.
    Taking a pup to a gun range isn't a good idea if you don't know what you're doing.
    I took my number 3 dog to a upland hunters trial and let her watch from afar what she saw is birds flying and a noise associated with it. None of my dogs are gun shy if they hear a gun go off they start looking for a bird.
    Actually I have a 4 month old that will be seeing a trial today for the next step in intro to gun fire.
    Remember it's easier to get them used to gun fire than it is to getting rid of gun shyness.

    Also the dummy launchers are very loud, not a good idea for intro to gun fire.
    The foundation to a great retriever is obedience.
    Firestorms Full Throttle Chevy aka Callie-Roo 7/5/2007 - 10/25/2013 I miss you every day
    Proud owner of Kona's Surfer Girl, aka Loki.

  7. #27
    Senior Member Scott Adams's Avatar
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    I don't understand why so many feel that, introduction to gunfire is about avoiding fear. It should be about promoting enthusiasm.
    It's all in the approach.
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  8. #28
    Senior Member windycanyon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swampbilly View Post
    Taking a pup to a gun range isn't something I'd ever suggest for one reason- folks lose sight of the word progression, and there has to be something for a pup to associate it all with.

    Do believe it can serve as a form of background noise however.

    Think of all the pups in the world who listen to gunfire from their kennel standing on their back legs peering out through the fence while the trainer is in the nearby training field with other dogs.
    Yes, this. I live one mile north of a gun club and they shoot in this direction so my pups hear the noise 2x a week at least if they are playing outside from ~4 wks on. I've always taken them for a ride and kid/family social down there the Sunday they turn ~7 wks old w/o any issue at all. I think the fairly regular pop-pop-pop makes it much easier than the sudden single blasts, personally. Some folks hunt the canal / river just below my property and the gunfire echoes nicely up this canyon. I'm also 2 miles as the crow flies from a major military firing center where the Japanese and Royal armies do most of their training w/ the big bombs (the kind that shake the windows at times!). One of my dog friends w/ VERY gun/noise paranoid Belgian Tervs moved ~5 miles up the canyon on the edge of those grounds and even her dogs got over it. We also have orchards near us that use bird cannons/guns and the irritating whistling type deterrants that scare the crap out of me when first used early in the season! Gun shots have always been exciting to my crew-- never a worry in my 20+ yrs w/ labs here.

    I am a firm believer that noise desensitization for every dog/horse/etc is a good thing. My dogs know the difference between that noise and hunt test fun too.

  9. #29
    Senior Member J. Walker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigcasinoGator View Post
    I had a buddy of mine take his pup to a gun range and said it worked great. I was just wondering if y'all have done the same thing. It seemed like a great idea and would save ammo. Has anyone tried?

    http://www.gundogsupply.com/mavocatrsy.html

    I just posted this on another thread. Buy this program and follow it. Your pup will learn that loud noises are just a normal part of life. It is a systematic approach that can be used to not only cure gun shyness but to prevent it entirely. Do NOT take the pup to a shooting range until he has gone through an incremental process. They're a good place to expose a fairly experienced dog to a high volume of rounds being shot as with a group goose hunt. Taking a pup with no exposure and no program for exposure is often a recipe for disaster.
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  10. #30
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    I guess I have been unbelievably lucky! I have never gone through any "intro to gunfire" with any of my three. All first heard the sounds when they were waiting in the box or kennel for their turn to "play". Even when first home at 7 weeks, they were within hearing distance of the other dogs training. The first dog, who had no older dogs around, learned to sit while I walked around the yard with a NEF blank pistol. I'd shoot, toss a dummy, and off he'd go. It was just never A BIG DEAL! By the time we were running bigger marks, the sound of a shotgun just geared them up more!
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