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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!

I have a 1 year old Lab/Chesapeake mix. He is handling great! All ready for the hunt, except he's gunshy! I shot cap guns around him as a pup, no problems, he's not afraid of any other noises, the sight of a gun doesn't scare him but if you shoot he gets real nervous and goes into the garage.

I tried food but he isn't interested, If I throw a dummy and have someone shoot while its in the air he just sits and won't go into the pond. My dad has his brother and he will sit next to you with no fear. He was freaked out by nieghbors fireworks on the fourth and I'm sure that has something to do with it. Can he be broke? He is such an awsome dog! Kinda bummed!I was looking forward to hunting with him.
 

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I've heard something that may help, try and make loud noises when he's eating. Start out far away and then gradually get closer, use pots or hand claps at first. Then maybe from a far distance use your starter pistol. If that doesn't work out you may want to take him to a pro to be evaluated. Some dogs are gun sensitive and not necessarily gun-shy. Here's a link to a great trainer who I know has witnessed the difference and will be able to tell you with in a few mins. if the dog is worth the efforts. He's a real nice guy but defiantly a straight shooter. I would call him, or if you want to send me a pm we can talk further. I'm not sure where your located but if it's SE Mich. I would be glad to help out.

http://www.justamuc.com/
 

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I hate to be pessimistic, but I had one of these dogs in the past...I can sympathize. But I'm afraid I don't have any good ideas for you.
My dog was an outstanding bird dog. Contrary to what the breeder told me when I got him as a pup, he was running, finding and pointing wild ringnecks at 6 months! And he was an outstanding family dog too. Just couldn't ask for more in a dog...with one problem...he was gunshy. As a pup he didn't really seem that bad, and I used starter pistols when we were training on wild birds that first summer. He'd point the bird, I'd flush the bird, and I'd fire the starter gun several times without any sign of him being the least bit spooky. However, when that first October 20th came, and we were in the field at dawn, the first rooster went up, we fired and down it went, and the dog just sat on his hind end. Wouldn't budge. I got to him and gave him a ton of praise, and he soon took off hunting again. A few minutes later, when the next rooster went up, and the shots rang out, the dog was gone! After calling for him a lot, and whistling, I got really concerned. But having run this same field a lot in the summer, I knew his habits, and he had a favorite spot...in the heat of the summer, he'd go to a deep hole in the creek that ran along the field, and walk right in to his chest and drink. So I went to that hole, and sure enough, there he was standing chest deep in the creek. it was apparently his security blanket. For the next hour, I just sat on a high spot with the dog, while my two hunting partners continued to work the field without a dog (and get their limit by the way :rant:).

He seemed to get spookier as he grew older. I even took him to one of the top trainers in SE Michigan and left him for a week...no real change. So the old saying that they will mature out of it wasn't true in my case...it got really bad. It was really a shame because there is nothing prettier than watching a good bird dog hunt up a wild bird and lock on point.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I've not seen a gun shy dog that could be "converted" to a calm dog...but maybe someone else has.
 

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The only thing that I can really think of would be to get him on live birds. Get some wing clipped pigeons, quail, chukar and let him chase them around and then from a distance have someone shoot, gradually get closer but only when the dog is totally involved chasing the birds then maybe and I stress maybe the dog will associate the shot of the gun with the fun of the birds. One other option is there is a cd that you can buy that incoporates music with the firing of guns you could also try that.
 

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I'll share my tale with ya as well. My second lab was gun shy/thunder/fireworks. I called top trainers all over the U.S.,,, the long and short of the conversations I had were,, "hmmmm,, good luck with that"..:(

My dog really wouldn't "cower" somewhere,, he'd BOLT!! So,, here's what I did,, leashed him in the boat and literally "shot" it outta him. It took a season or so until he was rock solid but it worked. He finally figured out,, when that gun went off,, odds are,, he was gonna get to "bolt" out and have some fun(get the ducks), all he had to do was sit still for a few seconds and it would all be worth it. At least in my mind,, that's what it seemed like he was thinking. Bottomline is,, try different stuff, you may break him,, you may not.... good luck.
 

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First off I'd go into the upland forum and do a search on introducing dogs to gunfire and read up on the responses.


Hi everyone!

I shot cap guns around him as a pup, no problems, he's not afraid of any other noises, the sight of a gun doesn't scare him but if you shoot he gets real nervous and goes into the garage.
My $0.02 is that you went a little too fast. You started out well with the cap gun. If you can start over with the cap gun and at a distance and gradually get closer until he doesn't react. If the dog reacts then you back up until the dog doesn't react. After you can stand next to the dog without a reaction to the cap gun then you move up to a .410 an start way back, like 75 yards, and gradually move closer. After he doesn't react, then go to a 20ga and then repeat for 12ga. I think it's important that you gradually upgrade size if you can because of the situation.

I've heard something that may help, try and make loud noises when he's eating. Start out far away and then gradually get closer, use pots or hand claps at first. Then maybe from a far distance use your starter pistol. If that doesn't work out you may want to take him to a pro to be evaluated. Some dogs are gun sensitive and not necessarily gun-shy. Here's a link to a great trainer who I know has witnessed the difference and will be able to tell you with in a few mins. if the dog is worth the efforts. He's a real nice guy but defiantly a straight shooter. I would call him, or if you want to send me a pm we can talk further. I'm not sure where your located but if it's SE Mich. I would be glad to help out.

http://www.justamuc.com/
Maybe start out with pots and pans before the cap gun from above. If you have the time and money, I think a pro evaluation could help you a lot.

The only thing that I can really think of would be to get him on live birds. Get some wing clipped pigeons, quail, chukar and let him chase them around and then from a distance have someone shoot, gradually get closer but only when the dog is totally involved chasing the birds then maybe and I stress maybe the dog will associate the shot of the gun with the fun of the birds. One other option is there is a cd that you can buy that incoporates music with the firing of guns you could also try that.
If your dog is birdy I think combining the birds with the gunfire would be a good idea too.

Now here's what I also think.:) Forget going hunting with your dog this season period. It doesn't sound like he's totally freaked and you'd have a chance to get him over this as long as you go slow and careful. You might be able to spend this season training and next hunting with your little bud. It's your choice. I'm personally fine with just spending time with my dog watching him do his thing and the shooting is secondary to me. That's just me though.

I also think you need a helper. Someone to pull the trigger for you from a distance. You might even need a couple because I think if you can get him over this, it's going to take a while. Keep in mind your the handler and they shouldn't fire unless you give a subtle signal that the dog can't see or hear. This way you can see your dog's reaction and evaluate it. Who knows your dog best? You. With this you can also throw a bird for him when you want. Make sure you go out everytime with a plan and don't just go through the motions and see how your dog reacts to modify the plan. Try to not tell the dog "It's ok, it's not a big deal" This might reinforce this as a big deal. Just be calm so the dog reads off you that this isn't a big deal.


I ain't a pro trainer and I'm still working on my first hunting dog so by all means get a second opinion and that's what I think. Good luck man. I say give it a go becuase it sounds like you really like this dog. All it's going to cost you is a lot of time and maybe a little bit of money.

Joe
 

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Another warning, if and when you do get him over this do not take him out hunting with a big party in the same boat all shooting at the same time. This is a recipe for disaster, take it easy and let him get used to one guy shooting before you introduce him to 3,6,9 shots going on all around him.
Good luck I really hope you can solve this
 

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I had the same problem with my CBR, and if you look into my post from 2 season ago I lost her for 8 days out off of Kitchen road, not good days.

Same story as yours, GL and don't push the dog if he/she doesnt like it. I would hate to hear of yours running off on ya.
 

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I got this off another site, hope this helps. I'll search for more. ~Larry
GUN SHY
It seems that everyone has a definition of"gun shy" and they
all differ slightly. The degree of gun shyness will determine whether or not the dog can be helped. My definition of incurable gun shyness is when a shot goes off and you finally find the dog in the next town. If a dog is that terrified from the blast of a gun it's doubtful that anyone can help him get over his fear. Gun shyness is one of those problems that's all or nothing; cure it or turn the dog into a pet. Before attempting to tackle this problem my advice is: be damned sure the dog has some redeeming talent that makes such an effort worthwhile. "But I love the dog" does not qualify as worthwhile.
I have never had a gun shy dog in training. (I just reread that and it sounds like my ego is showing, so let me explain.) The majority of dogs that I get in training are young and most have never heard a shotgun blast. When I get a new pup he is placed in his crate on the dog truck and taken to the field. I work only one dog at a time so the remaining eight dogs on the truck get charged up when they hear the shotgun sounding off. The young pup senses the excitement from the other dogs and makes a positive association with the sound of the gun. I do not shoot birds for a young dog until about the second week he is in training and by that time the sound of a shotgun means something good is going to happen. Of course, the shotguns are out in the field about 50 yards away from the dog. I don't shoot next to the dog until later when the association between shooting and retrieving is stronger. So when it's his turn to work he is looking forward to hearing the sound of the gun.
While shooting trap at the Santa Ynez Trap Club one day I noticed a man drive up with a young dog in the rear of his pickup. He put a leash on the little guy and tried to walk towards the gunfire; the pup dug in his heels and tried to resist but this man dragged the terrified pup to the edge of the firing line. Forcing this pup to face something he was afraid of did not create a positive association for his first time ever hearing guns going off. The ideal thing to do for that puppy would be to stop at a distance from the gunfire and allow him to get accustomed to the noise. Give him a dog treat and love him up as you bring him closer to the firing line. When you see the pup getting apprehensive don't try to move him any closer; that's as close as he feels comfortable around the noise today. Dogs, especially puppies, are naturally fearful of any loud noise until they understand its significance and are comfortable around it.
We must all try to remember that gun dogs have certain instincts given to them at birth by mother nature. Shotgun blasts are not covered in that birthright. But,if introduced properly, before long the noise from a shotgun becomes music to the dog's ears.
good hunting
__________________
always have fun while training
 

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Just a suggestion, but do you know someone who has a lab that can go thru a training routine with sound with their dog while you stand with your dog from a distance on the sidelines watching? This may help your dog put 2+2 together. Just having the other dog around and your dog seeing all the fun they are having may be all it takes.
 

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The only thing that I can really think of would be to get him on live birds. Get some wing clipped pigeons, quail, chukar and let him chase them around and then from a distance have someone shoot, gradually get closer but only when the dog is totally involved chasing the birds then maybe and I stress maybe the dog will associate the shot of the gun with the fun of the birds. One other option is there is a cd that you can buy that incoporates music with the firing of guns you could also try that.
I have done this with a gun shy Viszla that belonged to my brother in law.

We did it as a team - 2 guys - one handling the other shooting, and we communicated by radio. We used pen raised red quail, which were pretty lame flyers, but pigeons with clipped wings or a washer tied to a leg are fine I am sure. Trick is, start far away . . . like 400 yds - and move in gradually. We actually held the bird and got it in the dogs face, then released it on the shot for the dog to run down.

Don't try to do it all in one session. Move like 100 yds or less a session, and stop when the dog starts flaking - and do reinforcement sessions within comfort zones. Over about seven sessions, we had a dog that started out hiding under the truck at the sound of the gun working fine with shooting right over him.

So, use live birds, start out far away, move in slow, stop when the dog freaks, spread it out over a number of sessions.

That Viszla was our ticket to bobwhite quail in Kansas last year!

Good luck.
 

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what i did with my lab to acclimate him to guns was to drive to my gun club with him in the car. bring lots of treats. and turn on a cd keep windows up as others are shooting in area slowly turn down volume of cd or radio, and as people get ready to shoot give him/her a treat. so all they here is a lil pop at first then turn music down a lil more, repeat, once music is off slowly open windows keep up with the treats. then once windows are open maybe try getting him her out of the car keep it simple treats for gun shots (i bought the tiny treats in bulk so my dog didnt "pig out") if at any time he she is getting freaky just turn up music and if they get too jumpy then drive away and try again. my lab pup was close to the skeet line in about 2 visits and doesnt flinch with gun shots. also on fall days take her /him along to the club just so the remember what the sound is! by no means am i a trainer but it helped me -quack
 

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Just my thoughts.

1) Labs are prone to ear infections. This might be causing the problem if his ears are sensitive. A vet can tell you if he has an infection in one of his ears.

2) Not sure how big your yard is, but I had a dog that was "sort" of similar. I have 2 acres so as he was out milling around the field sniffing for whatever labs look for, I would fire off one cap from the gun. After a week, 2 caps. After 2 weeks he really did not care. Step 2, I employed a dummy launcher. At first he was not keen on it and wanted back in the house. After 2 nights of trying I put it away for a month, no hand throws in that time. Next time I brought the launcher out, he want ballistic wanting to retrieve!

Now all dogs are different, but this is the one experience I've had with a gun shy dog and this is how it was fixed.

Edit: BTW, for the first few months he was not at heal when I launched the dummy, but was allowed to bolt out into the field or whatever he wanted to do. I really did not want to force him right next tl the launcher.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for all the advise. From what most of you are saying I think your right I did go to fast. We started out with a 22 short. My wife walked up slowly with him, he was okay till he got about 20 yards away. Also as one of you said, we found out a few days after our first time shooting that he had an ear infection in both ears. I'm gonna start from the begining and go slow. Not gonna hunt him this year, a friend of mine has some pheasants he raised to train his dog with. I'm gonna work him on those with a cap gun and go from there. Baby steps!!

Thanks again
 

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I had a lab that wasn't gun shy until a college roomate started dry firing a paintball gun at her. She was mortified after that. I tried many things with no success. I then took her to a trainer down river, Jenkins I think. I took her into his bird pen while he sat outside and shot progressivly louder (and closer) guns while she chased birds on a leash. She was completely cured in about 15 minutes, no joke.
 

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Thanks for all the advise. From what most of you are saying I think your right I did go to fast. We started out with a 22 short. My wife walked up slowly with him, he was okay till he got about 20 yards away. Also as one of you said, we found out a few days after our first time shooting that he had an ear infection in both ears. I'm gonna start from the begining and go slow. Not gonna hunt him this year, a friend of mine has some pheasants he raised to train his dog with. I'm gonna work him on those with a cap gun and go from there. Baby steps!!

Thanks again
Good luck and have fun! Most of the time I think it's fun to train my dog.



I had a lab that wasn't gun shy until a college roomate started dry firing a paintball gun at her. She was mortified after that. I tried many things with no success. I then took her to a trainer down river, Jenkins I think. I took her into his bird pen while he sat outside and shot progressivly louder (and closer) guns while she chased birds on a leash. She was completely cured in about 15 minutes, no joke.
Uh...so did you stick the barrel of the gun up his butt and pull the trigger to see how much he liked it? I think I would've been very, very upset to the point of violence. Glad it worked out ok for you though.
 

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When I caught him doing it I grabbed his gun and smashed it as well as I could but refrained from hurting him, it wouldn't have been a fair fight
 
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