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gun shy lab


sheephead24

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I have a question, I just got a 4 and a half year old female black lab. She is well mannered, loves to fetch, and i had her out yesterday and she even pointed for me. She has never hunted before and i brought out the shotgun and fired a shot, she took off straight through the grove and into the corn field. What is the best way to train her to not be afraid of guns?? I heard a good way is to hold her on a leash and keep firing shots until she gets used to it. Any one have any advice? Thanks

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Take her outside on the 4th of July! My 10 month old Blackmouth Cur is still freaked out by loud noises. Usually she wants to fetch her frisbee or football. On the 4th, she was sitting at the back door with her tail between her legs.

The only thing that I can think of, is to start with a .22 or a smaller caliber pistol and work your way up to the bigger booms.

Any other input?

Hoggs

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Relate gunfire to things your dog enjoys doing. If you have kids it's a great help. Have your kids, or someone else, play with the dog while you are pretty far away. Shoot off a couple of .22 rounds while playing. Don't let the doggie stop and kiddos stop playing, and don't let them make a big deal about the shots. Or, while eating, or fetching, or whatever your dog enjoys doing.

Start off far away with small caliber shots. Now that your dog is gun shy it's going to take longer. Remember, everything in your dog's mind should relate to having fun. They are all about good times and goofing off. If you get the dog accustomed to some gun fire while it's goofing off, over time, the fear of the shot should go away.

Don't push it too hard. Start small and work your way up.

Good luck.

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If you have a gun club/trap range in the area, you could taker her there. Start a few hundred yards away from the action and let the dog get oriented. You will be there with her and can lend encouragement. As she adapts to the noise, you can move closer to the shooting. I have done this with my pups as I introduce them to gunfire. I hope whatever you do works for you - a gun shy/water shy lab for a hunting partner is a bummer.

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i had a friend with a gun shy Chessie. She wasn't only scared of the noise but any gun and even my truck (which only came by if we were going to shoot something) All it took was a few sessions of treats or attention from the person with a gun, treats from a person with far-off shots, then closer and closer. I am no dog trainer so perhaps I just got lucky, but by the end of the summer that dog would sit under the picnic table while we were shooting the hi-powers for deer season and turned into a great gun dog. Hope this helps, good luck.

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This is a great approach, but be careful, I had an incident during the training of my first dog. I had done the starters pistol during dinner/playtime, etc. Then I started working my way up to bigger booms (larger calibers) by taking him to a local trap/skeet range. I brought one of his training bumpers and we did some simple exercises with the guns going off in the background. Each visit I worked closer to the line. Worked great! In no time I had the dog sitting right behind the firing line watching the action, but here's the warning. Some [email protected] and his buddies decided that it would be "fun" to walk up behind the dog and I and shoot a round in the air. Luckily the dog had been acclimated to the gunshots by then, so it didn't bother the dog, but I was not pleased with Bozo. Went up one side and down the other in front of his buddies. They had no idea what kind of problems their little act of "fun" could have inflicted on the training process, not to mention if it ruined a good (expensive) dog what they would be on the line for (OK I exaggerated a bit here just to make my point to them). Got some pretty sheepish apologies and watched a quick departure. I guess what I am saying is keep an eye out around you. I'd hate to see a setback in your training due to some stupid/inconsiderate people.

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messing with a guys gun-shy dog (or any dog) is about as funny as a three finger prostrate exam. Considering the time and $ investment a person has in it, it's nothing to joke about.

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This comes up from time to time and I am going to "paste" a couple of replys to other questions about gun shyness. While they are not exactly duplicate situations to yours, they are close enough for you to get an idea of what to do. DO NOT just take her out and expose her to shot gun blasts!!!!! The absolute worst way to introduce a gun. DO NOT just take her to the local trap range!!!!! It may work for some (especially pups) but with a dog already showing signs of gun shyness this could end up being a disaster. Read the advise I've given to others on this subject. I know this method works as I've broke other dogs of it before. Just be patient and move at the pace of the dogs improvement. Let us no how she progresses....

The 1st post:

First off if your dog is showing tendencies towards gun-shyness, DO NOT hunt him till you work through it. I've taken in some gun-shy dogs and it is a long process to break them of it. If they have been properly introduced to guns the chance of having problems is virtually nil. When the guns start blazing over their heads and they get a good dose of muzzle blast for the first time, it's a wonder more dogs aren't gun shy.

Now to work through it. LOUD noises need to be associated with GOOD things. Start off when feeding him use something to make ONE loud noise. (2 lids from pots, 2 fry pans, a cap gun, etc.) When he starts eating make 1 report with whatever it is you chose to make noise. After 3 nights (if he doesn't mind 1 BANG) make 2 noises, after 6 nights make 3 noises,etc. Do this for 1-3weeks. Then start out in a field have a friend stand 20-30 yards away and throw a frozen bird up and shoot a .22 or .410 with muzzle away from the dog. Let him retrieve it. Move closer 5 yards at a time watching for any flinching, until you are at your friends side and see if he is O.K. with the noise. Then progress to a 12 gauge and start the process again. If you have access to live wing clipped birds (pigeons, chuckar, pheasant etc) use this at this time to really get him pumped for the loud noise. If he is just showing tendencies you'll get through the whole process in 1 1/2-3 weeks. If he is actually gun-shy (run from the gun, won't come back, cowers etc) 5-8 weeks is more the norm. I know it's a killer not to take your new buddy out hunting with you, but this little time out will pay dividends for the next 10 years. The gamble if you don't, means you may have a couch dog for the next 10 years! Good Luck! Ken

Second post:

If he hasn't seen a flushing bird, and shows some timidness now,why throw in the comotion of guys yelling ROOSTER, a flush, guns going off, etc. etc. I agree he needs to associate guns and birds, but why "put his feet to the fire"? I know most guys get away with taking their dogs out and hunting them and everything turns out right but every dog is different. If it's a case where the dog really is just confused with the guns going off in the blind, and he hasn't equated that with birds yet, I'd say hunt him; but with him not wanting to come back after the retrieve he is definitley afraid of the blast, to what degree...I don't know I haven't seen him. That's for you to judge. as far as him assoc. Guns with birds that is why I said use birds towards the end of the training. If you start out with birds you also can SOUR him on birds if he associates the LOUD BLAST (which he doesn't like) with the bird. Then you really have BIG BIG issues. Associating loud noises with things he LIKES and NEEDS (food)(he is a Lab ) takes the birds out of the equation up front. He won't have a choice as far as eating goes (he has to eat) and he WILL eventually except the noises with it. Then you progress it into the hunting situation and bring in the birds. I've broke several gun shy dogs incl. one that was written off by the owner. He stated the dog took off on him and he didn't find her for 3 days. I said I'd be willing to work with her and 7 weeks later she went home. I planted 6 chuckar for her and him when he came to pick her up. She hunted beautiful, sat to the flush and made each retrieve, (incl. one that took 4 shots to knock down) He stood there with his mouth open and couldn't believe it was the same dog. What it comes down to is making the loud noises an everyday thing and then tying into hunting, GOOD LUCK! Ken

Good Luck!

Ken

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thanks for the replys, sounds like good advice. if this doesnt work about how much would it cost me to pay a trainer?

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Take the dog to the Game Fair. There is gun fire galore, and more butts to sniff than any dog could ask for. I honstly have broken 2 dogs of gun-shyness there. The trick is to walk your dog to the fair from the parking lots so that the noise builds steadily. Don't take the short bus ride.

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the Game Fair is in Anoka, just off HW10, turn at Armstrong I believe. It is 2 weekends in August 12-14 and 19-21. It is alot of fun, bring your dog, your shotgun and your bow for competitions, there are always some good sales from the big retailers and plenty of info booths on everything from trips to dog trainers. Don't forget to watch the shotgun guy (I forget his name) but he shoots everything from golfballs to cabbage and puts on a neat show. It is a great idea to bring your dog there.

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thanks for the input, i might have to head over there next month.

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Quote:

I heard a good way is to hold her on a leash and

keep firing shots until she gets used to it. Any one have any advice? Thanks


FIRST OF ALL, DON'T DO THIS!!!!! She'll be so scared you'll never get her fixed.

Second, like others have said, associate the noise to fun and build from small bangs to louder ones as the situation improves. With a dog that is already afraid it will be a long process. As with any training issue, patience and repetition are the two main keys.

GOOD LUCK!

PS listen to Labs4me, dude knows his stuff!

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Well I did what I was supposed to do and I think now I have a real problem. Had her out last night, my brother stood 200 yards away with the gun and I held her on a leash. I gave her a treat while he shot and we only shot twice. Both times she jumped and when I let her off the leash she ran and hid under my truck. Now today when I got home I grabbed a treat for her, normally she sits with her tail wagging waiting for it, but instead she ran and hid. Is there any hope for her??

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Sheepshead... re-read my post!!! Why continually expose her to gun blasts when she is already gun-shy? You are only digging your hole deeper. It will take a systematic approach for several weeks to break her of this, there will be no quick fix. If you are looking for one, "there will be no hope" for her!

Good Luck!

Ken

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labs for me, im taking your advice, but the problem now is that its been over a week and she is still so scared when i offer her a treat which i do 4 or 5 times a day, she still runs and hides, im too afraid to try banging pots and pans because she was so scared of any sound before i even brought the gun out. the only way she will take a treat from me is if I get down on my knees and im eye level with her. what do i do next? Thanks

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Richard Wolters once described certain cases of gun-shyness as a "sensation of acid-like burning, deep in the stomach of the dog".

Hope for the best. Expect the worst.

Want to hunt anytime soon? Get another dog. This one seems couch bound.

This is where I get deluged with people telling me about how they cured their dogs gun shy tendencies..........

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Your dog is a classic case of why people need to be careful when they introduce pups to guns. 9 dogs out of 10 will handle the loud noise with very little trouble, but then you get the one thats might be shy and nervous to begin with, then throw in some improper inroduction and walla, you have a ruined hunting dog.

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Irvingdog, I agree. Sometimes you have to cut your losses.

There still may be hope, but it's going to take a long time.

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Absolutely there is hope. I have seen a dog stiff with fear from gun shots and after a little conditioning actually get excited when a gun shows up. Hope is not lost, you just need to find something the dog really likes, treats, etc. Sleeping in the house was what this dog liked. Smoking trout and breaking a dog of gun-shyness; 2 things that you do very slowly while you sit around and drink beer...

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To me it sounds like you have to back up a bit. If the dog is scared to take treats from you now, maybe you should start having a little fun with it again. You said that the dog loves to retreive, maybe start throwing a dummy and let it have some fun and give it a treat when it brings it back. And I would not start banging pots and pans. You might be trying too hard and sounds like the dog thinks it is being punished or the dog might be associating the treats with the loud noise.

And I agree, listen to everything Labs4Me says.

"hooks"

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I agree with fishnhooks.. I think what you need to do right now is just have fun with the dog.. build the trust back up again.. and if the method you desire is to use treats slowly and I mean slowly (like after a week or two) work giving a treat back into your training... and slowly (I cannot emphasize this enough) work back towards introduction to gunfire... but I would NOT hope / plan / expect this dog to be ready to go by hunting season this year...

Here's a very similar method to what someone posted.. but in greater detail:

http://www.coonriverkennels.com/pages/tips.html#gunfire

Good Luck.. it won't be easy, but should be possible.

marine_man

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The dog HAS to relate the noise to fun.

My first springer, I didn't test her for gun shyness and totally ruined her. I pull the gun out of the truck and she would jump in the truck and not come out.

My second springer, I bought wolters book and did some fine tuning. I started off with a cap pistol when she was eating, kinda funny, she just looked up to me with that " Do you mind, I'm eating " look. After she would get used to it I used to chase her around the house shooting the cap gun. I made it fun. We then moved onto a starter pistol. I would take her for a walk in the woods and when she was a little ways out I would fire 1 round off in the opposite direction. Slowly I would fire them off over her head. Now I can't even take out any fireworks, she goes nuts.

I adopted an older lab two or so years ago and I didn't know if he would hunt but he sure like to retrieve. We built a solid relationship for the first few months. Everyday after work I would hit baseballs into the woods for him to retrieve. Not thinking one day in july I pulled out some bottle rockets. The springer is going nuts and the lab was just looking her like... " What? "

I lit the first one off and it shot in the air and went off. The springer was barking and running around and the lab just stood there. By the time I lit the second one off he was just as excited as the springer.

I have hunted and shot over both of them and we are good to go. The lab has no clue why we are walking around in the weeds but he has fun. The springer jumped a bird that I winged and we were looking for it. Well, the springer was chasing the bird when it ran right between me and the lab, he looks at me like " Did you see that? " He never did chase it but the springer finally ran it down.

He might not be the brightest lab but he's all mine.

Make it fun and go slow.

Mike

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