Gun shyness By gonehuntin

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Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby hunt-chessies » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:49 am

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
noise.

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
anyhow.

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. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby hunt-chessies » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:50 am

I take no credit for this post other than i made it a sticky but i fully support it.... I think this is the most fool proof way of doing the job. There are others that work, sure, but you can't go wrong here. Feel free to add on if you have another way of doing things!!! :thumbsup:
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby goodkarmarising » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:21 am

Great post, and I agree with it, but I also before I introduced the gun to my dog, I would bang pots and pans around him while he was eating as a pup and not act like anything was going on or that it effected me, or would slam cabinet doors shut real loud so that he was getting used to hearing loud noises. I'm sure my neighbors in the apt next to me wondered what the heck was going on.
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby gonehuntin' » Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:59 pm

I never had a problem with gun shy dogs at the kennel, because the pups were kept in a whelping house and from birth, heard guns going off, dishes banging, yelling, barking, etc.

I'm kind of big on loud noises at feeding times too. When feeding the pups, and to this day when I have one, I bang dishes together and call to the pup, alerting him to dinner time. If I were in the country, I'd fire a gun then feed him. There is nothing wrong with introducing a pup or youngster to the gun this way and is extremely effective.

So is the method I've listed, but that method addresses a particular problem: a dog that is all ready gunshy. In my experience, once a dog is actually GUNSHY, not starvation, not force, nothing but birds can bring them out of it.

I always start with loud noises, but you can be sure when that pup is 7-8 weeks old, the association to the gun will be with birds. Guns mean birds, and that means a reward.

Thank you for posting this as a sticky.
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby HNTFSH » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:17 pm

Good call on making this a Sticky! :thumbsup:
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby swampbilly 1980 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:11 am

As I posted in the original thread, this method keeps birds in the "mix for the fix", and is a very practicle step by step way of taking care of gunshyness.

Although creating diversionary noise while the dog is feeding works, that idea can be used more of a preventative type of thing at an earlier age rather than a fix at an older age.

Again..excellent strategy Gonehuntin' :thumbsup:
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby Indaswamp » Fri Sep 18, 2009 11:16 pm

Gonehunting..I personally have seen this method work. on 3 different dogs over the years. One dog took at least 6 mos. to "cure" to a shotgun next to the dog. When the transition was made from the .22 to a shotgun, the distance had to be extended. The other 2 didn't take as long. It is a tedious process and patients is the key...just like force fetching-it depends on the dog how fast to proceed...great post BTW...and very well explained. :thumbsup: All three times, I was the "helper" with the gun in the field.... :hi: then I was the observer...learning from a professional shortens the learning curve tremendously....

And I agree that the 4th of July has made a lot of gun-shy dogs. I recommend keeping a pup inside during this period until proper intro to guns has been made-avoid the bad associations... :thumbsup:
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby Hawk » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:23 pm

Good comments by everybody...nothing to add. :clapping:
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby rutjr » Sat Nov 21, 2009 3:07 pm

My uncle (God rest his soul) taught me while feeding the dog, take two 2X4's about a foot long and slap them together, not to hard at first and harder as they get used to it. Now I've only trained two dogs but never had a problem, actually just the opposite, when they hear a shot they want to go to where it's at.
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby TopGunMich » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:52 pm

I agree, its all about association. I had a 5 dollar cap gun, that got fired before feeding, walks and training. Even just throwing the balls, I would let a few caps go. Then we would train 200-300 yards from the skeet range. My dogs never had any issues...
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby jonnyb » Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:19 am

I recently got a golden from a friend of mine pure breed 1 yr old. Never hunted never trained. in 2.5 months this dog is showing signs of being a better duck dog than any lab I've ever hunted with. He was very gun shy I took his favorite bone to a field let him get to chewing on it than fired 1 12gauge shot the other way. I was about 20 yds away from him. A box of 7 1/2's 45 min later he could care less about a gun going off. even with him laying @ my feet and me sending 3 out the barrel before the first empty hit the ground
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby amolloha08 » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:04 pm

I made the mistake of firing over my pup when she was very young (my first bird dog). The sending off party at the fourth of July for my brother didn't help things either. I developed gunshyness in her and its been hard to get her out of it. I even went through a trainer to get her birdy, and as a graduate student with two kids and a wife who likes fancy coffees, that didn't last long ($$$). What I've found that has helped without having space and time for live birds at home is all of the above. I've used wings from geese, mallards and doves as my cheap "birds." I've gone far away from the negative reinforcement and done everything with "good girls" and her high protein food which she loves as treats, everytime. I use hotdogs when she doesn't seem "into it" which helps and I bag pots and pans at feeding time whenever I am home (kids do it when at work n school; no banging). But far from those consistent positive stimuli for desired behavior I purchased a dummy launcher and use duck scent on my canvas, pvc and fake bird bumpers, which has been the best asset. Frontloading the sessions with the short warm-up retrieves with wings I transition to the launcher with a buddy 50+ yards away (at the beginning) and have him shoot the bird, I call mark, point to the bird and send her when I want. It has been effective. We move in closer, move out farther away. It depends on her mood, but when she is motivated to please and excited to retrieve I can now shoot the launcher with her on my left. I am definitely not an expert but patience, advice on this board and a good dog will pay off this fall. Thanks.

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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby jasper » Sun Jun 06, 2010 6:13 pm

Indaswamp wrote:Gonehunting..I personally have seen this method work. on 3 different dogs over the years. One dog took at least 6 mos. to "cure" to a shotgun next to the dog. When the transition was made from the .22 to a shotgun, the distance had to be extended. The other 2 didn't take as long. It is a tedious process and patients is the key...just like force fetching-it depends on the dog how fast to proceed...great post BTW...and very well explained. :thumbsup: All three times, I was the "helper" with the gun in the field.... :hi: then I was the observer...learning from a professional shortens the learning curve tremendously....

And I agree that the 4th of July has made a lot of gun-shy dogs. I recommend keeping a pup inside during this period until proper intro to guns has been made-avoid the bad associations... :thumbsup:


Even after a proper intro you still can have bad results with fireworks. I have a vizsla who is coming around but it has taken a very long time. He hunted great the first year. No problems at all with the gun. Did the intro a lot like the fix as I new he was a very soft dog. During that second year we had a forth of July party with a lot of fireworks. Didn't realize how bad it had affected him till the next time we went training. Shot a pheasant over him and he lost it. Shaking at my side. Didn't want to even walk back to my truck. Now the fireworks made him gun shy and I just made him bird shy not knowing how much it had changed him. Still to this day I am trying to get him as birdy as he was as a pup. He has lost all interest in birds. I don't know if he will ever be the same but we keep trying. I tell every body now to keep their dogs away from fireworks. They are the worst invention when it comes to dogs and guns. Now on the same note my lab loves fireworks as he thinks a bird is going to fall with every boom. Just show how different every dog is and how careful you have to be.
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby Huntingwithdaughters » Sun Aug 29, 2010 7:48 am

I would try a version of this with ANY dog before subjecting it to muzzle blast at close quarters. An easier way for a new dog is at the clay range. Use a non-ported, sub-gauge (20/28/410) gun with low brass, lite loads.

Have a helper hold your dog on a lease at least 50 yards from the practice trap. As you are shooting slow singles, have your helper walk the dog slowly up to you.

Praise your dog like crazy the minute he arrives, then shoot a few more.

If the dog is gun shy at this point, try the approach of our distinguished moderator. If the dog is gun shy after the sticky method above, reconcile it to the couch and BUY a started dog from a pro. Chances are, if you start with a puppy from a breeding of working hunting dogs, you shouldn't not have a problem.

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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby Indaswamp » Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:05 am

Huntingwithdaughters wrote:I would try a version of this with ANY dog before subjecting it to muzzle blast at close quarters. An easier way for a new dog is at the clay range. Use a non-ported, sub-gauge (20/28/410) gun with low brass, lite loads.

Have a helper hold your dog on a lease at least 50 yards from the practice trap. As you are shooting slow singles, have your helper walk the dog slowly up to you.

Praise your dog like crazy the minute he arrives, then shoot a few more.

If the dog is gun shy at this point, try the approach of our distinguished moderator. If the dog is gun shy after the sticky method above, reconcile it to the couch and BUY a started dog from a pro. Chances are, if you start with a puppy from a breeding of working hunting dogs, you shouldn't not have a problem.

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better for you to be with the dog-and your friend shoot the clays.
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby Huntingwithdaughters » Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:11 am

I have always done it with a member of the family so the dog is getting love all around.

Indaswamp wrote:
Huntingwithdaughters wrote:I would try a version of this with ANY dog before subjecting it to muzzle blast at close quarters. An easier way for a new dog is at the clay range. Use a non-ported, sub-gauge (20/28/410) gun with low brass, lite loads.

Have a helper hold your dog on a lease at least 50 yards from the practice trap. As you are shooting slow singles, have your helper walk the dog slowly up to you.

Praise your dog like crazy the minute he arrives, then shoot a few more.

If the dog is gun shy at this point, try the approach of our distinguished moderator. If the dog is gun shy after the sticky method above, reconcile it to the couch and BUY a started dog from a pro. Chances are, if you start with a puppy from a breeding of working hunting dogs, you shouldn't not have a problem.

David Bershtein
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better for you to be with the dog-and your friend shoot the clays.
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby alanwebfoot » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:32 am

I'll have to admit Tanner is my first duck dog [my wife say's ONLY] anyway I went out on the back deck to bust a dove last season for her to get the warm blood smell effect gun was up on my shoulder a 12 3'' and Tanner squirted out the back door sitting at my side I touched off ,NO flinch what so ever and she did grab the bird ,I wouldn't recommend this to anyone but she has so much drive to please and retrieve that from the start close range has never bothered her as a matter of fact if I'm training on the river and someone off a ways blasts at a dove or target she's looking for the bird to her ''bang mean's bird oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!'' Now if I can just hold up my end and hit em'
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby Huntingwithdaughters » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:43 am

There is nothing worse than the withering, sarcastic look of a dog when you miss a bird:

"Why do you think I flushed the bird?" she says. Its the way they turn bach slowly with that Oh Please! look.

I would love to shoot as well as my Lab can find them and retrieve them.....

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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby aunt betty » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:55 pm

Take a gun-shy pup to the shooting range and start at a distance (far) and move up little by little. That's not MY idea but from Richard A. Wolters' book "WATER DOG" It's worth a try and go SLOW!
I use a dummy launcher on pups as soon as they're fetching and it totally eliminates any fear of loudness. You have to take it slow and start when they're young. I'm not a dog training expert but have had lots of good luck. I think I must have been a dog in my last life... :yes:
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby lakewaydr50 » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:39 pm

My son shoots trap and skeet competitively so we started taking our first lab Miley to the practice with when she was 2 years old. We tried to do this other places and just never could find a spot where we could discharge a firearm. Her first year duck hunting was kind of tough on her because she was terrified of the noise of a shotgun. I had to keep her on a leash, which you usually have to do on a first year dog anyway to keep them still. Even with that, if she saw a bird hit the water she seemed to tune it out and focus on getting the bird instead.
When we took her to shooting practice we started out at a distance and kept getting her closer and closer to the shooting and by the time her second season rolled around she just seemed to just ignore the noise and focus on watching the skies for birds...The only drawback was when someone would miss a clay she'd want to go retrieve it. She'd set there and whine because I wouldn't let her go get it.
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby TomKat » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:45 pm

I was lucky, my dog never had any problem with loud noises. The other day I was walking outside with a new .22 rifle I wanted to sight in and she came over and licked the stock. When she hears boom she is looking for a duck. I have to put her up before I can target shoot...
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby cblanche6 » Sun May 22, 2011 11:07 am

My puppy (11 weeks today) seems as if she has always been very birdy. I had her on wings at 7week and she went nuts for live quail today. She has never been scared of loud noises, just curious.

I had my buddy begin shooting .22 blanks while we were tossing the birds. I would have him shoot while the bird was in the air and she paid no attention to the shot at all. Now when I would hide the bird and I would walk with her so she could find it, she would definitely take notice of the shot but i would get her attention again and we would find the bird no problem. The shot in no way scared her, she just took notice of them. I would have my buddy get closer and it got to about 50 yards. I did not want to push it any further though.

This is my first puppy and I dont want to do anything too fast and make her gun shy. Any suggestions?

Also she would not bring the bird back to me like she usually does when we play fetch. I didnt want to automatically take it from her because I want her to be proud of the retrieve and enjoy the chase. But it come to the point to where play time is over and she needs to get to work. She is still very young and has had nothing but positive reinforcement. So in the future, how would yall suggest I go about having her bring the bird back to me and not prance around with it and destroy it?

Thanks for the help.
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby Bgold » Sun May 22, 2011 11:15 am

cblanche6 wrote:My puppy (11 weeks today) seems as if she has always been very birdy. I had her on wings at 7week and she went nuts for live quail today. She has never been scared of loud noises, just curious.

I had my buddy begin shooting .22 blanks while we were tossing the birds. I would have him shoot while the bird was in the air and she paid no attention to the shot at all. Now when I would hide the bird and I would walk with her so she could find it, she would definitely take notice of the shot but i would get her attention again and we would find the bird no problem. The shot in no way scared her, she just took notice of them. I would have my buddy get closer and it got to about 50 yards. I did not want to push it any further though.

This is my first puppy and I dont want to do anything too fast and make her gun shy. Any suggestions?

Also she would not bring the bird back to me like she usually does when we play fetch. I didnt want to automatically take it from her because I want her to be proud of the retrieve and enjoy the chase. But it come to the point to where play time is over and she needs to get to work. She is still very young and has had nothing but positive reinforcement. So in the future, how would yall suggest I go about having her bring the bird back to me and not prance around with it and destroy it?

Thanks for the help.


My pup is also 11 weeks old today. I introd .22 cal magnums to him a week ago and he could care less about it. I took with me to go shooting and had him sit and stay while I shot once. I shot and he just kinda looked at the pistol and then at me like.. “what was that?” and his perked up ears seemed to say “do it again!” lol...he could care less about it at this point.
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby noduckdan » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:32 pm

Ive only trained a couple of dogs but i never realized it was ever a problem i thought every one started on day 49 with a cheap cap gun before feeding there pup in training and moved on to 22 blanks and then a shot gun as it got older someone had told me it makes pup relate loud noise with something good when i was gonna train my first pup I know it worked for the two dogs ive trained i thought everyone did the same .guess im learning alot reading on this forum!
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Re: Gun shyness By gonehuntin

Postby patton » Mon May 14, 2012 5:32 pm

If you have a state nearby that sells fireworks, you can buy the waterproof M-80s. They are like big black cats, about 1" long and the thickness of your finger.

Step 1: In the water, the explosion is contained a lot by the water and the "POP" is very soft. You can throw bumpers to your pup into the water, and then toss one of these little firecrackers next to it. The explosion isn't loud enough to scare the pup...it just generates even more interest.

Step 2: Transfer the same lesson to land, and the loud noise will be not right next to the dog. The dog associates a louder noise now with a good thing, the bumper.

Step 3: Go throw bumpers to your pup about 50-100 yards away from your friends shooting skeet in a field. The dog should be so excited about bumpers at this point in his/her life to not care about the gunshots going off in the distance. You can slowly move him or her closer to the guns, continuing to throw bumpers. By the time you are right next to the shooters, the dog won't care one bit.

Baby steps is the key with your pups! Good luck!
patton
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