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Now I'm new to this and have a 6 month old chocolate lab. He is not to fond of loud noises he is not only gunshy he doesn't like the noise of loud clapping... I need to fix this. Any help? I have been setting his food bowl down and trying to walk a bit away and clap while he eats but this seems to scare him as well.
 

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If you clapped while I was eating I'd probably be scared too. I know many people do this but it certainly isn't something you have to do. I've only introduced 5 pups to gun fire and its always been after the pup is retrieving with great enthusiam. Then one day you just shoot before throwing a mark at 100 yards or so. The pups don't even acknowledge the shot they are so intent on getting the bird. Gradually move the gunner closer until you can shoot overthe dog.

I think the key to the whole deal is having a pup that really wants to retrieve the bird. How is your pups drive?

The best step by step intro to gun fire I've seen is George Hickox.
Go here: http://www.georgehickox.com/about_george_hickox_bird_dog_training_articles.html Read Gun Sense.
or you can get the retriever dvd and see it in action.
 

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I introduce the dog to noises while he is eating. I will stand some distance and make noise while he is eating. Every couple of days I move a couple of feet closer as long as the dog is not bothered by the sound. I will use a cap pistol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
How far would you recommend starting away from the dog while eating? Also what type of cap pistol and where could I pick one up?
 

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I've seen posts here that claim that gunshyness is man made. I'm not sure I believe that. Within the German Drahthaar organization, a gunshy dog cannot be certified for breeding. I've never heard of a German bred DD displaying nervousness around loud noises. Could this be the result of 125+ years of a breeding program that doesn't allow sound-sensitive dogs to pass on their genes? Dunno.

But that wasn't your question.

The value of conditioning a pup to loud noises around a pup at meal time when it is focused on something pleasurable is pretty solid. But, given your description, I wouldn't break out the cap gun. Why? There are pots, pans, cabinet doors...all kinda good stuff around you that can make noise and are part of everyday life with noisy humans.

IMHO, healthy doses of everyday household noise should be purposely part of a pup's training. You can tell by a pup's reaction whether a gun shot is going to bother the critter. There is nothing magical about a cap gun or the pop of a shotgun. With my current pup, the dog was so non-caring about noise, I didn't even bother to poke around through my shelves to dig out the blank pistol. Pup went to the skeet range at ~4 months and didn't even notice.

Noise is everywhere. Motorcycles. Car exhaust backfires. Door slamming. Lawn mowers. Life is noisy. Pup should know that and you should be able help the pup through that without a cap pistol and a retrieving bumper being part of the equation.

A few critters back, a breeder of one of my pups had a great system. It has been around since the Larry Muller wrote his "Speed Train Your..." books. There, in the kennel, he had speakers that played soft music mixed in with gunfire. What a great way to start!

I tracked down what he used. You may find it helpful.

Here is the link: Gunshy Prevention
 

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How far would you recommend starting away from the dog while eating? Also what type of cap pistol and where could I pick one up?
Most things I do like this are modified because I live in the city. This is done indoors. My puppy gets fed in the kitchen. I locate myself in a bedroom in the rear of the house which is 45-50 ft. away. I can close the bedroom door if I feel the need to muffle the sound even more. I have my son watch the puppy's reaction while I do this. The cap gun that I use is from a toy store. It uses a circular plastic ring of caps.

When I start to do retrieves with bumpers, I can use the same cap pistol in the field which for me is a city park at first. Of course we graduate to guns at our club training days.

Other noisemakers that I would use if I couldn't get my hands on the cap pistol: popping a paper bag, popping a balloon, pots and pans, etc.
 

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Brian Urban

I agree with you about different noisemakers being a part of everyday life. I like the sharpness of the sound of the cap pistol. I also like the associations---the noise and the eating going together. And then the further association with pleasure when brought into the field. I also have complete control over the stimulus of the cap pistol. I cannot control the other sounds--landscapers with lawnmowers, backfiring cars, etc.

I know of others who just bring a dog into the field and shoot the gun as the dog is retrieving. However, I saw a dog get frightened by the gun this way.
 

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Ah...but that's just it. You can.

Cabinet doors. Pots and pans. A dropped food dish. All these things make noise. All these things are in the kitchen. All these things can be made to make noise with the dog is eating. You have control over all these things.

A cabinet door can be closed softly and can also be slammed with the volume that can put that cap pistol to shame. There is just something about firing a pistol in a house that bothers me.

The other sounds are easy too. Garbage trucks come at the same time every week. They make a hell of a racket. It is easy to take a pup for a walk when a neighbor is cutting grass. A walk taken with a pup down a town's busy street in the evening is bound to yield Harley noises and noisy trucks.

I agree with you about your observation of a dog being frighten when retrieving. That's my point. In fact that's EXACTLY my point. Noise is noise. You can condition a dog to loud noises far, far, far away from the critter associating the noise with field work.

You may like the sharpness of a cap gun. But would a potentially noise sensitive dog? Is it really a good idea without preconditioning? You can't turn down the volume of a cap gun. Sure, you can start in another room. But you can be there with the pup in the kitchen and regulate the volume of cabinet doors or of a spoon clanging against a heavy pot. The pup is in its own kitchen where it feels safe. You'll be there to see the pups reaction and to adjust the volume of the next sound accordingly.

Then, after you are sure that the pup is not going to freak out, a cap gun can be the next step. But, like I said, you may realize that it is a non-issue because of the prep work.
 

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I agree with post #2. There is no reason to be firing anything at meal time when pups are young. A shot should mean a bird is coming! More people ruin noise sensitive dogs by turning on blenders and vacuums or clanging pans next to the dog. I have watched countless pups started on retrieving that don't get a shot until they are retrieving at a distance and then the shot means get excited, there is a bird and they could care less about the noise because it is at a distance. Yes, I do believe gun shyness is manmade and can usually be traced back to something the owner did in their haste to prevent gunshyness.
 

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If you present the quiet, safe, noise prior to putting the bowl down you will make a greater impact on your dog's learning. Over time, gradually introduce the amount of noise. The key is...noise first.

(one of many pages on google talking about "classical conditioning")
http://www.clepinfo.com/clep-exam/127/Classical-Conditioning.html

For the recommended exercise of making noise -while- the dog is eating, and especially for someone new to training, you risk teaching the dog food can result in a scary noise if you over-estimate the amount of noise.
 
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If i remember correctly, he did a experiment with dogs with a sound and food. He would ring a bell and then feed the dog. The dog then associated the sound with meal time and would salivate even if no food was given.
The noise, whether a bell,a pan or a gun was only done BEFORE the GOOD THING not during.
 

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I agree with post #2. There is no reason to be firing anything at meal time when pups are young. A shot should mean a bird is coming! More people ruin noise sensitive dogs by turning on blenders and vacuums or clanging pans next to the dog. I have watched countless pups started on retrieving that don't get a shot until they are retrieving at a distance and then the shot means get excited, there is a bird and they could care less about the noise because it is at a distance. Yes, I do believe gun shyness is manmade and can usually be traced back to something the owner did in their haste to prevent gunshyness.

IMHO, a dog that was so noise-senstive that a blender or a vacuum causes it stress is a giant arrow pointing at a temperament problem. I wouldn't blame gunshyness on an owner who happens to use a kitchen appliance. Based on what I've seen with drahthaars, I tend to believe noise sensitivity has a genetic component. Soft dogs are excluded from the breeding program rather than blaming the owner and allowing the dog's genetics to further influence the breed. I don't think you could make one of those dogs gunshy if you tried. Noise from a blender or vacuum cleaner certainly wouldn't be an issue.

Who said a thing about banging pots next to the dog? Being in the same room and starting with low volume noises is different then tip-toeing up to the critter and banging two frying pans together over its head like would happen in a cartoon. But, I guess I should have spelled that one out.
 

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IMHO, a dog that was so noise-senstive that a blender or a vacuum causes it stress is a giant arrow pointing at a temperament problem. I wouldn't blame gunshyness on an owner who happens to use a kitchen appliance.
It is when the idiot starts it right when the 7 week old puppy is right next to it and does it over and over with different machines. I'm sorry but the only temperament problem is the owner. Some people have zero common sense, and do dumb things particularly when the puppy just comes home at 7 weeks. Yes, I did have someone do this and I told him to bring the puppy back. Ringing a bell and salivating has nothing to do with gunshyness. How is the puppy to associate that with a bird.

There are dogs that do fine with that noise over the food routine but there are some that do not do fine. Ask the young dog pros what they think of that method and how easy it is to get a dog over gunshyness. Best to start off the right way and you will have no problems, unless the owner goes out opening day with an army of friends blasting 12 guages with a new pup not conditioned to them.
 

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Nancy, I knew that there was something that I liked about you! SPOT ON! Bill
 

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It is when the idiot starts it right when the 7 week old puppy is right next to it and does it over and over with different machines. I'm sorry but the only temperament problem is the owner. Some people have zero common sense, and do dumb things particularly when the puppy just comes home at 7 weeks.
Really? Wow. Now that is just trying to be dumb on purpose. That took really some effort! :rolleyes:
 

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I'm going to be doing some introduction work this weekend. I first started out by leaving my gun in the living room (unloaded of course). this way the dog is comfortable around the thing. buddy has a dog that runs and hides whenever anyone pulls out a gun.
 

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I try to use habituation. Habituation is not classical conditioning. Back bedroom + closed door=muffled sound. You open the door a crack, a little wider, then move a little closer---you end up increasing the sound in increments. The dog is preoccupied with eating. The sound is initially weak. Weak stimuli tend to habituate. That's what I am trying to do.

BTW, I didn't think this up myself. I did read it in some older literature.

How do you deal with other loud sounds? Lightning striking very close by, Fourth of July fireworks, the doorbell ringing? Have you successfully conditioned your dog to these sounds? I tried for the fireworks and was unsuccessful. The fireworks around here last for several days. You get the right loud sound at the right time and you will sensitize your dog and that goes for pots and pans too.

As for electrical storms, lightning hits very close by my house. I live 200 yards from the highest point in Queens. I can't say that any of my dogs has ever really gotten used to that sound. Quite the contrary, they seem to get sensitized.


OK---chriso, just be careful that you don't sensitize your dog. Choose whichever method you like. In fact, choose one of the other methods. If something goes wrong, I won't be blamed.
 

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One element missing in this discussion is how you, the pack leader reacts to the sound.

I remember when our son was little. When he fell or somehow hurt himself, he'd immediately turned back to see our faces (his mom and mine). If we had a look of horror, he'd freak. If we didn't react, he'd go about his business.

With pups, little noises at first coupled by laughter and happy words like the noise was no big deal work wonders. The pack leader's reaction is vital IMHO. During the first walks with our new pup, loud noises absolutely caused a reaction. Barking dogs. Trucks. Loud motor cycles? She noticed them all. And pup looked to us to determine how to react. Our reaction and reassurance was the key. The same barking dogs behind the invisible fence she seems unsure about during our first walks are now greeted with I high wagging tail and a beeline to greet them. Those awesome v-twins driven by the Harley guys? She doesn't even notice them now. They are waaay louder than a 12 gauge. A pack of those things cruising by can shake your innerds. That's why I feel that the CD that I linked to is of value. Soothing classical music with intermittent gunshots? Sound conditioning at its finest. Awesome stuff.

I still don't understand why people don't think there is genetic component to nervousness around sounds. Is that taboo to discuss here? I've seen nervous pups that came out that way. Haven't we all? To them, any loud sound is a concern. There is no amount of training or condition that is going to totally fix that. There are weak nerved dogs. There are dogs with strong nerves.

My earlier point was that a blender shouldn't bother a dog with good nerves. I didn't realize that it was far more than that until Nancy clarified the goofiness of the pup's owner. It makes sense now. Human not genetic in that case.

And, just to clarify - Jim I don't understand what point you were trying to make. Was your SPOT ON post a shot at me because I expressed an opinion that appeared to differ from Nancy's at first and she did a great job in her clarification? I hope I misunderstood your intention. I found that post mean spirited and hurtful. I'm a sensitive guy.

The OP state that the pup is already sound sensitive. Any loud noises right now meant to test the pup seem to be a not-so-good idea. That's why I offered the link. I know that CD works.
 
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