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 Post subject: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 11:20 am 
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Location: New Hampshire, USA
I have a three year old lab mix (mixed with what I don't know but looks like a lab but with shorter hair) that is gun shy. Scared of fireworks, thunder storms, the works - even dropping the lid of the mayonnaise jar on the kitchen floor sends her running to her bed.
Is there any hope a dog like this may come around?

I have had Vizlas and Labs my whole life and have had many great years with them all. All were purchased from breeders and I eased them into gunfire as pups so I never had any problems. My last purebred lab died in 2012 so for a couple years I was unhappily dogless.
I went through a divorce and relocation so getting a new dog wasn't something I could do right away. Then one day a friend told me about a shy little 6 mo. old lab mix she heard of that was horribly abused as a pup and needed a home. Scared of anything and everything,
but she took our hearts and the next thing I knew I once again had a dog. Took a year+ for this dog to trust me - abuser must have been male because she takes to women fairly quick, but is cautious around guys. Eventually I have earned her trust and we are now best of friends.

The killer is that in the woods the dog is a natural. She is absolutely in her element when romping in the woods - Will find birds no problem. She stays close without constant calling back. She would be great for hunting partridge in northern New England woods were it not for that one not so little problem. I tried taking her near (no to) an area with stocked pheasant on opening day and whenever a gun would go off I'd give her a treat - hoping she might associate gunfire with something good. Worked for a while until a gun went off a little too close and that was the end of that - dog treats weren't enough of an incentive to put up with the noise.

Any suggestions from someone who may have been through a similar situation, a trainer or anyone with a thought?

Thank you




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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 12:07 pm 
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Yep, that is a tough one to deal with.
The following is a modified drawn out method of introducing your dog to the gun and uses his natural birdyness.

I would get a few clipped wing pigeons and play fetch with him. The idea is to create tremendous excitement. When the dog is excited and focused on the bird, have an assistant with a cap gun about 100 yards away shoot the gun when you signal to do so.

if your dog reacts, move back and repeat. Still reacts, it is probably hopeless.

If the dog does not react to the shot, have your assistant move 10' closer and repeat the process.

Go very slowly and be willing to back up as required. I would do no more than 3 shots per day, while all of the time keeping the dog excited about birds. The idea for the dog to ignore the shots.

Eventually, you maybe able to get within a few feet of the dog and he may very well accept the cap gun shots as part of the game.

If all is going well, I would repeat the process with a blank pistol and if that is successful, go to a shotgun.

It has been my experience that the dog will still be afraid of thunder, and other loud noises, but may happily associate shotguns and birds.
Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 2:21 pm 
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Given the history, I am not sure how optimistic I am at a successful outcome, but.....

I agree with Wyobirds approach. Very long slow process, and back off at the slightest sign of stress or resistance. You could even start with two pieces of wood clapped together instead of a cap gun. Given the dogs sensitivity, if she is at first a little shy of birds, another options is food. Is the pup motivated by food? Most labs I know are:-). You could try introducing noise while feeding, or giving treats and work up to birds or retrieves in a more controlled environment than the field with gun fire at indeterminate distances.

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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 4:56 pm 
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The consensus is that this is a tough proposition. Since you already have the dog, I wouldn’t let that stop me from trying. I have a friend dealing with the same problem.

Google “can a dog be cured of gun shyness” and you will get an abundance of information on the subject. I hope it works out for you. It would be an interesting project to try if you like training and working with dogs.

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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 6:23 pm 
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Yes, a dog can be "broken" of being gun shy.

I got an adult Brittany out of the dog pound one day before bird season. I had no opportunity to work with him prior to opening day but took him anyway. At the first shot, he ran from the gun and walked along behind me the rest of the trip.

This was repeated at least a dozen times, maybe more. Then one day I was alone, just me and the dog. He pointed a quail, it flushed and he saw it fall. He paid no attention to the shot from then on. It was like a light came on and he was a very good dog after that. I don't know that I had anything to do with his coming around as I don't know squat about training dogs. All I did was not give up on him and give him the opportunities to figure things out for himself.

So, don't believe that gun shy dogs can't be cured.

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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 6:36 pm 
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I saw one lab with a strong retrieving drive broken of being gun shy. The retrieved the dog in a pond and introduced gun fire while the dog was retrieving.

I also was told about a bird dog that got shot while hunting and became gun shy. The owner had his kids play with cap guns while playing with the dog and while it was being fed.

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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 8:27 am 
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Location: Colorado Springs, Co
My lab is very afraid of thunder, but hunts all day with enthusiasm.
Curing a gun shy dog is ALMOST impossible and very expensive as it takes a trainer a long time to cure if at all.
Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 11:22 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2016 10:39 pm
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Dr Duk wrote:
My lab is very afraid of thunder, but hunts all day with enthusiasm.
Curing a gun shy dog is ALMOST impossible and very expensive as it takes a trainer a long time to cure if at all.
Good luck!


Didn't take long and didn't cost me a dime. The dog did it himself. All I had to do was give him the opportunity. I do think that hunting with him as the only dog helped.

I have no reason to believe that I'm the only person who has seen this happen.

Moral of the story is don't give up on a gun shy dog too soon. They have the natural ability in them. Once they get more interested in the birds than the noise, you're in business.

_________________
The root(s) of all evil:
-Political Correctness
-Insurance
-Securitization
Take your pick.

Always make an even number of mistakes. One may cancel out another.

"People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything." --Thomas Sowell


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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 11:51 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:04 am
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Harry459 wrote:
I have a three year old lab mix (mixed with what I don't know but looks like a lab but with shorter hair) that is gun shy. Scared of fireworks, thunder storms, the works - even dropping the lid of the mayonnaise jar on the kitchen floor sends her running to her bed.
Is there any hope a dog like this may come around?

I have had Vizlas and Labs my whole life and have had many great years with them all. All were purchased from breeders and I eased them into gunfire as pups so I never had any problems. My last purebred lab died in 2012 so for a couple years I was unhappily dogless.
I went through a divorce and relocation so getting a new dog wasn't something I could do right away. Then one day a friend told me about a shy little 6 mo. old lab mix she heard of that was horribly abused as a pup and needed a home. Scared of anything and everything,
but she took our hearts and the next thing I knew I once again had a dog. Took a year+ for this dog to trust me - abuser must have been male because she takes to women fairly quick, but is cautious around guys. Eventually I have earned her trust and we are now best of friends.

The killer is that in the woods the dog is a natural. She is absolutely in her element when romping in the woods - Will find birds no problem. She stays close without constant calling back. She would be great for hunting partridge in northern New England woods were it not for that one not so little problem. I tried taking her near (no to) an area with stocked pheasant on opening day and whenever a gun would go off I'd give her a treat - hoping she might associate gunfire with something good. Worked for a while until a gun went off a little too close and that was the end of that - dog treats weren't enough of an incentive to put up with the noise.

Any suggestions from someone who may have been through a similar situation, a trainer or anyone with a thought?

Thank you


" A shy little six month old lab mix..... " You know, if one day all dogs suddenly have a collective epiphany and realization of all the cruelty and abuse that we, as humans, have heaped upon them, when all they wanted was for us to love them, there`s going to be righteous hell to pay!

Bless you for your kindness, and good luck. Gun shy can be a real toughie.


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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 11:53 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:22 pm
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Location: Alabama
I was given a lab once because it was gun shy.
I started to break her by clapping my hands while feeding her.
When she became accustomed to this, I used two pieces of wood clapped together.
Then moved to pots and pans. Then I brought out a gun for her to be around, but did not fire it.
Then to sub sonic .22, then high velocity .22.
Then all the way up to shotgun fire.
ALWAYS while feeding, it worked for me. Maybe it can for you also.

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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 5:49 am 
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Joined: Tue May 08, 2018 7:49 am
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Location: New Hampshire, USA
Thank you so much one and all for your input and ideas. Some real gems in here!

Seeing as how the dog was afraid of literally everything when we took her - the first week we had her all she did was cower in the corner waiting for the beating she was sure was coming. I do believe with a little more patience and soft training she can emerge from this too. She has come so far in the 2 1/2 years we have had her, pretty much a normal well adjusted dog almost.

I like the idea of introducing a soft sounds (wood slapping or cap gun while she is excited about something). The dog goes absolutely wild for fish. If I take her fishing with me when I catch one she gets super excited and wants it SO bad. When I throw the fish back in the water she swims in after it thinking she can find it - its really quite comical. All I have to do is take my rod out of the garage and she knows what that means and gets really happy. Perhaps I can try low level noise when a fish appears and if its still ok then increase gradually. But only a few times per session as suggested.

Again, thanks I really appreciate your help.
Harry


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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 11:38 am 
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Harry459,

The fishing idea is a great one. If you had a friend who could fire off a cap gun...or you fire one off while it is muffled or when she is not near by.

Your mentioning fishing brings up another item to consider using. In training my puppy, I was using dried pheasant wings. I would put them on bumpers for retrieving. She got really fired up about was those pheasant wings. So when I was wanted to start introducing her to gunfire, I dangled one of the wings off of a fishing rod. She loved to chase it. OMG was it funny. FYI, she is an English Cocker, a flusher, so I am trying to encourage a strong flush and not worried about breaking a point. My son and I took turns, and started the clapping boards together louder and louder while she was chasing the wing. She never even noticed it. I also took her to my shooting range and stopped the car quite a ways away (1/4 mile plus to start). With cut up hot dog, I slowly walked her closer to gun fire...stuffing her with treats whenever a gun was fired. She never even looked at the guns going off.

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 Post subject: Re: Gunshy dog
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:12 pm 
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Location: New Hampshire, USA
Stripersonfly

I was imagining your situation dangling a wing off a rod and had to chuckle - that does sound like a hilarious scene. Nonetheless useful!

By the way, I love fly fishing for stripers!




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