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 Gun Shy Problems 
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Post Gun Shy Problems
I'm looking for some input on getting my dog to not "shut down" when shots are fired. He's a wirehaired pointing griffon and loves to fetch. He's been FF'd and does line work along with some pattern blind stuff here recently. Lately, I've worked (not consistently) with a popper in the house.

I understand that I made the mistake of taking him out too early. This could have been avoided but I got excited about finally having a retriever.

That being said, what kind of regiment should I look at as far as conditioning him to sound. The option that seems most ideal would be to get some live birds and clip the feathers. Then let him go crazy while shooting the gun at a fair distance, getting closer until I see him flench.

Has anyone ever had this problem that they've fixed?

For the record, we did a Navhda natural abilities test where they deemed him gun sensitive. When he's fired up about birds he comes back to me and checks me until he remembers theres birds to be found. I just don't know how to transition this to water as we will mostly be waterfowl hunting.

Any input will be appreciated.

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Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:58 pm
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
Gun shyness is man made. It's VERY hard to ever fully fix, but clipped winged pigeons and a gun far away is where I would start. If anything can fix it, live birds can.


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Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:13 pm
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
I've seen it recommended to start with a 22 or other small caliber gun far away...someone shooting while you're playing and retrieving. Then very slowly the shooter comes closer. The more you can associate the noise with fun and retrieving the better. As he gets used to that the shooter can use larger guns and repeat the procedure.

If another person is not available and you have an outdoor shooting range nearby you could park up the road and walk closer and closer instead.

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Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:42 am
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
You don't want to try the gun range thing. You want to build an association that a gun shot means a bird to pick up. It builds excitement and a positive association rather than acceptance.

Some use 22's but if you start someone 300 yards out and progressively work it, you will be just fine avoiding an extra step and just start with a 12 gauge


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Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:29 am
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
I've heard that a gun range would be a bad idea. I don't think it would give me enough control if it starts to go wrong.

I have a starter pistol that I plan to use. Just need to find a place to use it.


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Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:26 am
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
Personally I would avoid skipping steps to save time considering this is either going to make or break whether you can ever hunt with your dog. Sure you can associate gun shots with retrieving something...but I would rather worry about forming that association later on. The biggest priority to me is getting them used to gunfire and not care about it.

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Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:46 pm
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
Bacon bits work really well initially. Get them playing, start at distance with a 22 short, give bacon bits when they don't pin their ears on the shot

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Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:35 pm
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
Seen this a little late, but if you have a local trap club take the dog there and sit off in the distance.

Overtime (days to weeks) work in closer, the dog will let you know how close to get as it gets use to it.

I did this with a friends dog who would run to the next county when you pulled a gun out of the case and in the end it all worked out.


Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:45 pm
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
Exbellicus wrote:
I've seen it recommended to start with a 22 or other small caliber gun far away...someone shooting while you're playing and retrieving. Then very slowly the shooter comes closer. The more you can associate the noise with fun and retrieving the better. As he gets used to that the shooter can use larger guns and repeat the procedure.

If another person is not available and you have an outdoor shooting range nearby you could park up the road and walk closer and closer instead.


Yes this is advanced.

If recommend getting an old rusty heap of scrap rifle and leave it in their bed. Oil it regularly with your gun oil.
This helps with association. Get 2 short pieces of 4x2 and before you feed him belt them together and then make a big fuss about how good they are them feed him.
After this starts working then start with a .22 suppressed if you can. But oil it before you go out and put it down on the ground and show the dog, let them smell it, give them a pat...fire then treat and show the dog the gun again..
Mostly it association.

I shot a wounded red deer coming at us over top of my friends dog with a supperessed AR15.It put him off guns and he'd been shooting for a couple of years. He's back on it now but still hates my AR

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Sat Sep 30, 2017 7:09 am
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
I started my chocolate lab at a young age with loud noises around the house. For example, cutting the grass around her kennel, using the vacuum, turning on loud music, etc. I found that that helped in getting her use to loud noises prior to introducing the gun. Prior to introducing the gun, I did the typical "fetch" routine for a couple of months and incorporated an assortment of duck calls that i would blow prior to having her fetch the treat. when i introduced the gun to her (about 4 months old), i would make her sit next to me, fire a 20 gauge shell, and then give her her favorite treat and praise her. after doing that a couple of days, she associated the gun with something positive (the treat) and knew that it was something good. it didn't take long for me to introduce the gunfire with the retrieval regiment for her to be comfortable. Once she was good at that stage, i would take her to shoot clays and such and she has no issues with gunfire during hunting or training.

Best of luck to you. Every lab can be a good hunting dog, its just that some get it together faster than others. I find teaching them yourself helps you bond with your dog more and makes hunts more enjoyable.

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Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:10 pm
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
I ended up getting with the trainer. He said he's fixed this before so I trusted him. He did a tower hunt with the trainer this past weekend. From what he said, he's seeing a lot of improvement. We will find out Saturday how much improvement.

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Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:39 am
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Post Re: Gun Shy Problems
Wchauvin wrote:
I started my chocolate lab at a young age with loud noises around the house. For example, cutting the grass around her kennel, using the vacuum, turning on loud music, etc. I found that that helped in getting her use to loud noises prior to introducing the gun. Prior to introducing the gun, I did the typical "fetch" routine for a couple of months and incorporated an assortment of duck calls that i would blow prior to having her fetch the treat. when i introduced the gun to her (about 4 months old), i would make her sit next to me, fire a 20 gauge shell, and then give her her favorite treat and praise her. after doing that a couple of days, she associated the gun with something positive (the treat) and knew that it was something good. it didn't take long for me to introduce the gunfire with the retrieval regiment for her to be comfortable. Once she was good at that stage, i would take her to shoot clays and such and she has no issues with gunfire during hunting or training.

Best of luck to you. Every lab can be a good hunting dog, its just that some get it together faster than others. I find teaching them yourself helps you bond with your dog more and makes hunts more enjoyable.

I used similar tactics to teach mine.
I have an old compressor that is unbelievably loud. I'd turn it on, let it run and cycle on and off. After a couple days of this, gunshots were nothing.


Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:44 am
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