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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just wondering if it's normal for a 9+ week old puppy to be skittish around louder noises. Just now I had him outside, and my neighbor about 70 yards away was hammering and he tucked-tailed and ran up to our deck. At the same time, another neighbor slammed her car door, and he jumped about a foot in the air. I'm getting worried about being gun shy, but is it just too early for this? Is it just because he's a puppy still?
 

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Your pup is getting startled by loud noises. Just as you or I would when a totally unexpected loud noise happens near us. He is being startled by things that he cannot see and while out in the "great unknown" of your yard, where he may not feel very safe, which is why he is scooting off to someplace more confining and defensible if something comes to attack- which for all this pup knows, is likely to happen.

Your job is to make him feel secure and safe. This is not done by coddling in the face of said noises, but by forming a tight bond with the pup in the absence of distraction and scary things. This will carry over to when the pup is scared or unsure of things, that he will look to you for assurance and guidance as to how to handle the situation. Once a pup fully trusts you, you can introduce loud and sudden noises (at a distance) by having the pup on a leash and by ignoring the loud sounds yourself. Either do not react to the noises at all, or look in their general direction with feigned indifference and calmness. The pup will pick up on this and will soon settle down as well. Once he does, a quick pat on the head and a "good dog" reinforces this action with approval.

Start introducing loud noises of your own, making sure that the pup associates those noises with something positive, like food or a favorite toy. You want your pup to start associating loud noises with something good or exciting, so that he looks toward the sound and goes to investigate, rather then retreat.

With the 4th of July just around the corner, you had either better begin this immediately or think about keeping him in a crate in the house- fireworks and annoying neighbor kids can be a nightmare for a young pup. With patience and training, the sound of fireworks, thunder storms and lightening, and guns will have little effect on your dog. My pack of dogs frequently run towards the fence line and the fireworks, keeping an eye on the sky. With a boom that loud there should be a huge bird falling, right? :) They frequently find the parachute rockets for my son when he shoots them off on our property. Here in Missouri, it is legal to shoot fireworks year round, and they are usually the really big boomers!
 

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Pups go through several fear periods during their first few months; that might be why he seems skittish to you now. The key thing when you see him spook at something is to try and distract him, don't mollycoddle him and try to soothe him because all that does is teach him that spooky skittish behavior is rewarding. When he gets startled over something don't make a big deal of it, just try to engage him in something he likes to do like playing with a toy or sit for a treat. There are plenty of good articles around about intro. to gun noise so I won't go into that but just because he acts startled over loud noises at 9 wks. doesn't mean he'll be gunshy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies! I had thought much along the same lines. He's a "good eater," so maybe the treats right now would be a great way to distract him while things are going on around him.

I think for the 4th, he will stay inside for most of the day. I'd rather have that than have to fix a bigger problem later!

BTW, I'm following Hillmann's video. We've got Day 1 down pretty well. Was having a hard time getting him "wild to chase," but a dove wing on a bumper with a drop of pheasant scent changed that!
 
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