CURING GUN SHYNESS
A dog is very much like a person. Your fear of one thing can be so great, it outweighs
your desire to do another thing.
In this instance, your dog would love to retrieve, but something about that loud noise
(gunshot) has him so concerned, that the retrieve becomes secondary to his fear of the
So how do we counter this? There are two ways really, one using birds and the other to
just subject him to the loud noise in a pleasant surrounding over, and over, and over, and
over until he learns not to fear the noise. Goose/stoli uses one method, I use the other. It
doesn't really matter how he was gunshyed, my guess is the 4th of July, either method
will eventually overcome his fear of it.
Goose/stoli likes one method, I prefer the other. I'll try and explain it so you understand.
Your dog is a BIRD DOG. He was bred, born, made, to hunt and retrieve birds. That IS
his life. It isn't being petted, watching TV, or eating. It is getting a bird in his mouth and
retrieving that bird. That desire overcomes every other desire the dog has, the desire to
eat, the desire to breathe, nearly the desire for life. It is the most powerful driving force
the dog possesses. Don't believe that? When the dog is eating, yell mark and throw a bird.
I guarantee he'll bolt from the food dish and grab the bumper. Same if he's on a female
breeding her and you throw a bird. I guarantee if he hasn't locked up yet, he'll jump off,
get that bird and return to his other favorite past time.
So what does this mean to us? It mean that we channel his most powerful drive and use it
to cure his greatest fear. By first throwing clip wings with no shot and letting that drive
surface and grow, and letting the dog have fun, we enhance the drive God has given him
then cure him of the gunshyness by using it. It is the fastest method I know of to cure a
dog of gunshyness yet build that incredible desire. If you get impatient and rush it, it
won't work. Here are the steps in order. There is no time sequence. You proceed only to
the next step when the dog is completing the step he's on at 100%. If you proceed too fast,
you can lose all of the steps and have to start all over.
1). Get the dog birdy. With no gun involved, have a helper throw a clip wing pigeon and
let the dog retrieve it. Start short at 50 yards and work out to 100 yards. Never throw the
birds so many times the dog wants to quit. About 10 times a session is fine. If you don't
have a helper, throw them yourself.
2). Good. He's birdy now. You have to restrain him and when you let him go, he goes flat
out for each pigeon, grabs it and comes back. He is insane to get the birds. Now we add a
gun and a helper. Have a helper stand 100 yards out in a BARE field with a riffle and .22
blanks. Start with a .22 crimp then go to the regular .22 blank. Have the helper throw the
bird in the air without firing and send the dog. Have the helper yell MARK before
throwing the bird to get the dog's attention. After the dog makes a couple of retrieves,
have the helper yell MARK, fire the riffle in the air with the muzzle pointed away from
the dog and send the dog while the bird is still in the air. You use a riffle because the
report is softer than with a pistol. A pistol directs the sound out each side and they're so
loud they even hurt your ears. Use a riffle. Did the dog do it OK? Did he show any
hesitation? If all went well, throw another six birds, firing a shot when the bird is in the
air and sending the dog.
3).Step three is exactly the same as step two, but shorten the helper to 90 yards. Each time
you progress to the next step, shorten it up by 10 yards. If the dog shows any hesitation,
back up 10 yards.
4). Now 80 yards.
5). Now 70 yards.
6) Now 60 yards.
7) Now 50 yards.
8). Now 40 yards.
9) Now 30 yards.
10) Now 20 yards.
11) Now, for step 11, get rid of the helper. Now you take the clip wing, throw it, and
when the dog is in full pursuit, fire the gun with the muzzle directed away from the dog..
He should completely ignore the shot and dive for the bird.
12)Now repeat step 11 EXCEPT don't shoot the gun when the bird is in the air. Wait until
the dog pounces for the bird, his full attention on the bird, and fire the gun. Timing is
crucial and is everything here.
13). The final step with the .22 is to sit the dog, throw the bird with the dog sitting at your
side, and shoot the gun when the bird is in the air and send the dog. Did everything go
OK? Then we're now ready to introduce the shotgun.
To introduce the shotgun back right up to step 1 and do the whole 13 steps over again.
Sound boring and that it will take you a long time? It is and it does. That's why you pay a
pro so much to cure a gun shy dog. If the dog is not a bird-a-holic, you won't cure him by
this method. If he isn't a bird-a-holic, dump him because that isn't the dog you want
With a new pup, you don't have to be this careful, this is how a gun shy dog is broken. If
you get a new pup you break him to the gun differently, but that's for another thread.
You sound like an impatient, young lad to me. Patience. If you have no patience and
aren't willing to follow a plan, you'll never train a dog. Patience, common sense, a
progressive program, understanding, discipline, a good dog. That's dog training.