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Gun shy dog

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Nebeel'sWife, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. Nebeel'sWife

    Nebeel'sWife Member

    I was wondering if anyone has any tips on correcting gun shyness? The plan for now is simple gun equals hot dog if you don't freak out. Seems to be working. I also would like to know how to not mess up the next dog.

    VINTAGE-SLOTCARS Well-Known Member

    When my Akita was a pup, I took him to the local range. I took water and food. He was afraid at first but he got used to the shots after about 1/2 hr. I walked him in the parking lot at first, then brought him in closer and fed him. I never brought him up to the fireing line as high powered rifles were being used. We stayed there for about 2 hrs walking around the facility. He has never been afraid of gunshots or fireworks since. It worked for me on a new pup ,but I don't know if it will work with an older dog. Good luck!!
  3. Lloyd Smale

    Lloyd Smale Well-Known Member

    be carefull you dont ruin a dog like that. My lab when he was a pup used to go to the range with me and crawl right up under my chair and sleep. I wasnt thinking and did this for maybe 5 range sessions. Now at 7 years old hes almost totaly deaf. best way i know to cure a gun shy dog is take him out first with a bb gun and shoot alot of bbs Give him attention and a few treats while your doing it to let him know that it can be a fun experience for him and then work him up to a 22rf. Usually if they will tolerate a 22 they will be fine with about any gun.
  4. Sniper66

    Sniper66 Well-Known Member

    My nephew trains quail dogs and he uses a cap pistol to make a little noise while he trains them with a quail wing on the end of a string. His dogs never seem to notice gun shots. In fact, they now get excited when they hear a distant shot. The key is to pair the shot with something pleasant like shooting just before you have them fetch something. They then associate the noise with a pleasant experience. This is actually insurance since that seems to happen naturally because hunting dogs are bred to hunt and LOVE being there.
  5. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Well-Known Member

    The Brittney I had was never afraid of gun shots. The first time I checked to see if she was she was behind me about 50 yrds when I shot my 20ga. My neighbor who was holding her on a leash said she almost pulled his arm off running to the gun shot. She knew what it was and wanted to be in the action.

    Most trainers use cap guns. I'm one that would keep dogs away from the high power rifles because those can be deafening to humans and animals w/o hearing protection.
  6. jrdolall

    jrdolall Well-Known Member

    I have experience with a Lab that came from a wonderful hunting bloodline and was about as good as it gets at retrieving. He would dive and back in the field. He would NOT even stay in the area if someone fired a gun. We tried everything from BB guns to cap guns to empty guns and he was just ruined. We tried to tie him up and force him to sit while we shot a Daisy Red Rider and he was foaming at the mouth.
    He is now a loving pet at a friend's farm where he can chase squirrels and birds all day long. He has torn down a wooden door during a thunderstorm since his relocation.
  7. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    Anyone who's had hunting dogs dreads the thought of getting one that ends up gun shy.
    Over the years I've tried to work with friends gun shy dogs and try and train them out of it.
    I don't think it can be done If a dog's gun shy, that's what it is.
    My most recent lab was a fine hunter and at the sight of me walking out the door with a gun was as ready for the hunt as any dog I ever had.
    Then one day lightning struck a tree beside the house. Ever since, that dog has become so gun shy as to be basically worthless. She's just a nice dog now, but even distant shots will get her nervous and anything close sends her cowering.
  8. Nebeel'sWife

    Nebeel'sWife Member

    Well he has gotten better with the hot dogs. Next step is firing blanks and tossing balls at the same time. I need to find someone to help me learn to work a dog with drive. He just loses his mind and ignores me. :banghead:
  9. Liberty1776

    Liberty1776 Well-Known Member

    Blue68 - THIS!
    I saw a young Brittany do this at our gun club when the skeet range was active. She wanted over there so bad she couldn't stand it. That's why I got a Brittany and I got very, very lucky with him - his only reaction when I shoot is to look at me and think "You missed again, stupid..." and he is a joyful retriever to boot.

    Sorry, off topic I know....
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  10. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Well-Known Member

    Yes, you got it.

    I had another friend if he missed several times in a row his dog would go back to the truck...
  11. Patocazador

    Patocazador Well-Known Member

    I had several good Brittanies .. and one bad one. No more quail equals no more bird dogs for me.
    I now have a Boykin whose breeder kept his pups and mothers in an enclosed shed after the pups were about 10 days old. He had a screen door with a very strong spring. Every time anyone shut that door it would slam shut because of the heavy spring. It produced a pretty loud 'bang'. None of his pups ever turned out to be noise sensitive since they were raised in that environment.
  12. outboard

    outboard Member

    I have never tried to correct a gun shy dog. However, I have a good bit of time training hunting dogs as well as family dogs. In gun training I always start with small abrupt noises during feeding time. Bang a pot with a spoon, once or twice, while your dog is fully focused on food. Pay no attention to the dog while doing it. She should become habituated before to long (a week or so). Crank up the volume a bit as she becomes accustomed. Prop your shotgun up in the corner where you feed your dog. she will become accustomed to the smell and associate it with good times (eating). Eventually move up to a cap gun in the house, see how she does. Move the noise training to the outdoors. Abrupt noises while engaged in play. Next introduce a .22. The key is to progress SLOWLY and back track if necessary.

    Reward her at precisely the right times (low excitement). Many good dogs have been ruined by being rewarded/disciplined at the wrong times. Fear of loud noises maybe downright dangerous for all dogs, hunting and family dogs too.

    Good luck, be patient and kind,
  13. Nebeel'sWife

    Nebeel'sWife Member

    Thanks everyone!
  14. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Years ago a guy gave me a Britteny pup that someone had shot with a shotgun and dumped out at the lake.

    She was terribly gun shy, as you might expect.

    I started working her with a pheasant wing on a fishing pole in the back yard until she was pointing and getting all excited about the game we were playing every time we played it.

    Then I started popping a cap gun over her when the fishing pole "bird" took off.
    Then moved up to shotgun primers in empty shells.

    It wasn't long till she got her first snoot full of real upland birds and she didn't even flinch when a gun went off after that.

    She turned out to be the best bird dog I have ever hunted with in my life.

  15. Sniper66

    Sniper66 Well-Known Member

    I adopted a Golden lab/Irish Setter mix from the pound some years back. He was terrific pet and seemed to have a good nose and would retrieve anything. I took him squirrel hunting along with my German Shepard. They were a great team and understood squirrel hunting well. I always shot with a .22 and they ignored it and would get excited when I took it out of the closet. So, I took my lab/setter out to try him on retrieving doves. I have never hunted doves with a dog, but since he was such a willing retriever and seemed to love it, I thought, hey, I'll give it a try. With the first shot he yelped and ran behind me where he shook for the next several minutes. Weird..I took him home after that and he remained a great pet, but was never a hunter. He lost interest in going with me for squirrels after that too...weird again. Only thing he fetched after that was my morning newspaper.
  16. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    I had a gun shy short hair that really worried as to whether or not he would ever get over it. But when we took him out and actually let him lock up on point he didn't even flinch when we let go with the shotguns. My experience has been to not start them off to early in age with exposure to gun fire. Many will probably argue that early exposure is best, but I have to disagree with this approach. Puppies are very easy to spook v.s. a young adult dog that recognizes that nose for game birds.

    As to breaking an already determined gun shy dog I've had some good results using treats that they simply love, enough so that a fire cracker won't keep them away. Hamburger meat works really well for this. I've also used live caged quail for them to focus on while discharging a gun from a rather far away position, and then start closing the distance a little bit at a time. This works especially well with a dog that is displaying a terrible gun shyness. Bottom line, get them used to focussing on the bird or treat and they will be less likely to even notice a gun being discharged near them.

  17. grubbylabs

    grubbylabs Well-Known Member

    A real bird can sure change a dogs thinking. I had one that once he figured out a bird was involved could care less about the shot.

    I am having to work with an upland dog at the moment that is showing tendencies towards being gun shy so I am taking it slow with him. MY only problem right now is time. Since I graduated from school and have started working full time I just don't have the time I used to be able to put into a dog.

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