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Today we took our 16 week old chocolate lab dove hunting with us. Let me start out by saying we have previously had him around .22 rifle gun fire and he was not phased at all. This morning was a complete different story. As the first couple of dove came overhead my boyfriend fired. Our pup flinched and cowered down, I immediately told him good boy to hopefully give him some sort of reinforcement that it was okay. As our dog ran up to the dove he pawed at it at first like it might attack him, but finally picked it up and was happy as could be. We decided to move on opposite sides of the pond so the gunfire wasn't as loud. Once again, my boyfriend shot but this time our pup just put his ears back and flinched again. But, he happily trotted his way to the dove this time and ran around with it. So, we went to go sit again (still on opposite sides) my boyfriend fired twice as our dog was laying down, he didn't flinch at all and immediately went for the dove.

My question is to how to move on further, I am now scared we are going to make him gun-shy. I hope this one incident didn't ruin his hunting experience.

I appreciate any opinions on what we should do.

Thanks,
Madeline
 

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16 weeks old is just a baby.

Better to introduce all gunfire in a controlled setting with immediate reward (bird) to convey the positive aspect of gunshots than to just put a young pup into a situation where they know nothing of what is going on.

Good that you realized your mistake and took steps to resolve it. That said, he still exhibits gunshy tendencies so I would not take him hunting until he is absolutely ecstatic to see a gun....
 

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Check out "Sound Beginnings" by Jackie Mertens, "Right Start Your Retriever" by Jim Van Engen, or even the DVD/Book "Water Dog". All have good methods for conditioning. Big thing that most people make the mistake of exposing their dog to gun fire and not conditioning them first. Take the time and associate desire for retrieving with gun fire.
 

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"Our pup flinched and cowered down, I immediately told him good boy to hopefully give him some sort of reinforcement that it was okay" That actually reinforces the fear, don't coddle fear. If he jumps in fear and you say in a sweet voice " I'ts ok, good boy" you just praised that behavior
 

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Something that has worked extremely well for us for gun training in bird dogs, beagles and retrievers is to introduce gunfire with birds or rabbits. The thing that gets dogs fired up. At a distance with .22 crimp at first. Lots of excitement. pop. bird.
From the first time, the dog associates gunfire with birds. In a positive way.

Pretty soon, gunfire means birds. Closer with the .22 crimp. Then a 209 at distance. Then a popper gun at a distance and then closer. But always with a bird and lots of excitement.
 

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Something that has worked extremely well for us for gun training in bird dogs, beagles and retrievers is to introduce gunfire with birds or rabbits. The thing that gets dogs fired up. At a distance with .22 crimp at first. Lots of excitement. pop. bird.
From the first time, the dog associates gunfire with birds. In a positive way.

Pretty soon, gunfire means birds. Closer with the .22 crimp. Then a 209 at distance. Then a popper gun at a distance and then closer. But always with a bird and lots of excitement.
That is a good strategy.

This is definitely a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
 

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When 7-8 weeks old...
1. metal feeding dishes, clanging/banging
2, 'cap" pistols or equivalents....loud noise..include lawn mowers/blowers .vacuum cleaners..apparent but NOT threatening
4. birds are already present and are housed on property....noise associated with contained birds
5. .22 away from dog or popper pistol,.launcher....build up to 12 gauge...should be done by 12 weeks old....
 

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Something that has worked extremely well for us for gun training in bird dogs, beagles and retrievers is to introduce gunfire with birds or rabbits. The thing that gets dogs fired up. At a distance with .22 crimp at first. Lots of excitement. pop. bird.
From the first time, the dog associates gunfire with birds. In a positive way.

Pretty soon, gunfire means birds. Closer with the .22 crimp. Then a 209 at distance. Then a popper gun at a distance and then closer. But always with a bird and lots of excitement.
This is pretty much how we do it as well. Before we start this though, we need to know that pup has strong bird/retrieve desire. Then we'll up the ante with a clipped wing pigeon in a short grass field. It puts the desire in over drive!
 

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Today we took our 16 week old chocolate lab dove hunting with us. Let me start out by saying we have previously had him around .22 rifle gun fire and he was not phased at all. This morning was a complete different story. As the first couple of dove came overhead my boyfriend fired. Our pup flinched and cowered down, I immediately told him good boy to hopefully give him some sort of reinforcement that it was okay. As our dog ran up to the dove he pawed at it at first like it might attack him, but finally picked it up and was happy as could be. We decided to move on opposite sides of the pond so the gunfire wasn't as loud. Once again, my boyfriend shot but this time our pup just put his ears back and flinched again. But, he happily trotted his way to the dove this time and ran around with it. So, we went to go sit again (still on opposite sides) my boyfriend fired twice as our dog was laying down, he didn't flinch at all and immediately went for the dove.

My question is to how to move on further, I am now scared we are going to make him gun-shy. I hope this one incident didn't ruin his hunting experience.

I appreciate any opinions on what we should do.

Thanks,
Madeline
Madeline , Firstly (ime) a 16 week old pup of any breed or with any future in Gun Dog work or as a pet should not be introduced to dove hunting in any country. You may have rimfire shots in your yard ,but why ? . Sounds like You are creating a Gun shy dog that has quickly become 'Gun shot aware' . Red herring is the retrieve and the dove and 'Yada Yada' any scenario and or bird or breed.
One incident may ruin an experience , but it doesn't ruin a dog . Continuously doing an incident with the dog having a bad experience ruins a dog , and a handler that does this ruins many dogs .
btw. Never did hold with the theory of banging bowls or kicking buckets , sounds nothing like a Gun shot and has No coloration to a shot and a bird or game .
 

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Something that has worked extremely well for us for gun training in bird dogs, beagles and retrievers is to introduce gunfire with birds or rabbits. The thing that gets dogs fired up. At a distance with .22 crimp at first. Lots of excitement. pop. bird.
From the first time, the dog associates gunfire with birds. In a positive way.

Pretty soon, gunfire means birds. Closer with the .22 crimp. Then a 209 at distance. Then a popper gun at a distance and then closer. But always with a bird and lots of excitement.

Same thing here. Not sure I could have said it better.
 

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Same thing here. Not sure I could have said it better.
"As the first couple of dove came overhead my boyfriend fired. Our pup flinched and cowered down, I immediately told him good boy to hopefully give him some sort of reinforcement that it was okay. As our dog ran up to the dove he pawed at it at first like it might attack him"
Not for this poster ! ? ...
So while it may be said better for you m it's not what is better for them . :)
 

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I have never introduced a shot to a puppy. It just happens over time and while training. Start by having a someone shoot a training pistol and throw bird or bumper from the field. Never ever, shoot next to a puppy. And I agree, a dove is not a good bird to start with.
 

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I wish people would come ask for advice before they do something like this. Difference between a .22 and a 12 or 20 ga is night and day. You are lucky he seemed to work thru it. Now stop hunting him before he develops any bad habits, get him trained, introduce gunfire more gradually as describes above in some very good posts. My dogs have always had a big desire to retrieve, so I have used bumpers when introducing gunfire, it will depend on how your non-force fetched dog handles birds. If he likes to chomp and chew them, you might want to wait till he has better mouth manners. In my situation, helps many of my neighbors shoot guns, and it has helped my pup adapt. Not sure why as we have not done many gunner marks yet, but when he hears a shot his ears go up and he is looking.
 
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