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Well, I've just gotten a new Lab pup, 7weeks old. Got her from some people that work for a dog rescue group. She doesn't have any papers, but the parents were both labs. She loves the water and I'm going to try and use her to retrieve cripples when we go goose hunting in the future (don't think she'll be old enough for next year's hunt). I see information about "gun dogs", but does anybody have any suggestions or references on how to introduce a dog to gun noise? (At least that's my plan -- time will tell if she'll have the instinct to do it.)

Thanks,
ET
 

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I've been hunting Springers for the last umpteen years and haven't run into a problem with a gun shy dog. I have seen this happen though. From what I read, and practiced, was let the dog follow you around during regular household stuff.

Just things like washing the dishes with the normal banging of a pot or pan in the sink will get the dog used to loud noises. Fear is learned in dogs just like humans. If the pup hears a loud noise and everyone around is crapping their pants the pup will too. I would have the pup loose in the yard while mowing the lawn or other yard work. Sometimes the pup might get in the way and you have to deal with it. If the pup associates a loud noise with punishment you're asking for trouble.

My youngest daughter and I were playing around with our latest springer when it was around 2 months old. Like an idiot I was blowing up balloons and tossing them around. The pup runs up and bites a balloon and POP! The next thing you know the pup runs under the car and wouldn't come out. We just remained calm and continued our business and the pup came out and started to play again. Truthfully when the pup was under the car I was already making plans for another pup. As it turned out she was OK. Now if either of my 2 Springers hear a gunshot they start looking for birds.

While working around the yard and the pup was near I would make it a point to bang something around and act like nothing happened. The pup would look at me and just continue on.

Sometimes I would just clap my hands to see the dog's reaction. If they looked at me I would call them over and praise them and pet them.

As far as training a Lab goes you are on your own. I don't hunt ducks with my dogs. One thing I did was buy a little cap gun. Once in a while give it a shot around the dog, after you get it used to the normal everyday noises. And DON"T do it right after a little scolding. You probably want to do it during a retrieving session. The cap gun will probably come in usefull when you train your pup to do whatever it is Labs are supposed to do.

Good Luck
 
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I have trained several dogs as hunting companions and field trials. Mostly Labs and boykins. The best method I have found is to purchase a starter pistol. Every time you go out to feed the dog fire the pistol. Start by firing at some distance and every few days move a little closer. I have never had a gun shy dog doing this. Now if I could just get him not to bark at thunder. Go figure, shoot a 12ga over him all day no problem but let the wind blow and you would think he was going to die
 
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I have trained several dogs as hunting companions and field trials. Mostly Labs and boykins. The best method I have found is to purchase a starter pistol. Every time you go out to feed the dog fire the pistol. Start by firing at some distance and every few days move a little closer. I have never had a gun shy dog doing this. Now if I could just get him not to bark at thunder. Go figure, shoot a 12ga over him all day no problem but let the wind blow and you would think he was going to die
 

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I had great results with the starter gun. I would fire it when Jessie would just start eating and about a min later. After 3 days she didn't lift her head or flinch. After a week of that I cut it to once a week for three more then took her hunting. My buddy on the other hand took his dog to trap to get it used to the gun. He left it in the lot in the back of his truck. Once a week for a month or 2 he would do this. Then the dog got in the boat with him. A duck was comming in, the dog was next to him .... BANG! The dog swam back to shore and hid under the truck. My buddy now has a highly trained lap dog. Guess there is a difference between target loads at 100 feet and steel shot at 2 feet :)
 

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I got my GSP used to gunfire by a combination of making loud noises just before feeding then moving up to a starters pistol and then I also took my pup to the trap range. At first I left her in the car the whole time I was there. I then started to let her out after I was finished shooting and took her for a walk in the opposite direction from the shooters. She showed no signs of discomfort or concern from the shotguns going off.
After a month or 2 I started to bring her towards the trap shooters (still about 100 -200 feet behind them). If she looked nervous
or uncomfortable we would leave and I would play with her so she got the idea that everything was ok and the noise was nothing to get concerned about.
I only had her out of the car during this for about 5 mins to keep the exposure to gunfire short.
She got her FDJ last spring and always received a perfect score for reaction to gunfire. I ran her in FD one day where they use shotguns and kill the birds versus just firing a starters pistol in FDJ and she also received a perfect score for reaction to shot.

People have critized me heavily for the trap/skeet range method telling me it borders on animal cruelty (but geeeee its ok to fire a shotgun when yer dog is 5 feet from you) so do what you want. Just remember if the dog shows ANY signs of concern/worry etc terminate the noise exposure training and wait a week or two before trying again.
Also, I have associated gunfire with birds. You should also work this into your gun training. My GSP gets excited when I fire my starters pistol while out training. She knowns she might get a bird!
 

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If you have any retriever clubs in your area, take her with you and leave her in a crate in your car. The sound will get quieted down but she will definitely hear it. And after a while of this, get her out of the car and walk her out a distance and gradually get closer, she will get to the point that she will be so curious that she will just want to see what is going on.

And a note, don't let her see or hear fireworks. My lab ran out one night and saw some fireworks going off not too far away and it scared the s&*t out of him. Didn't know if he'd be gunshy later on, and thankfully he wasn't. He loves gunshots, it gets him more excited the closer they are.

rembrwn
 

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Yes, training is the name of the game. We have fun hunt tests once every month, and a few guys will still get together and go out and train during the weekends and during the afternoons to teach new things. The hunt tests are not for training, they are for making sure your dog knows what they are supposed to do for an upcoming test you might be entering.

Basically it is just a bunch of people getting together because they love dogs.

There are all kinds of clubs, for all kinds of dogs. You might be able to find something for your German Shorthair Pointer thier. Don't know how the pointer and all the other upland dog groups work??? The guy that lets us have tests on his ground has a very smart GSP named Ruger. He has entered him in all sorts of tests.

FWIW

rembrwn
 

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Yeah, you get alot of advice and get to work with proffessional handlers who know a great deal more than the average person. 99% of the guys in our club go hunting together so you also get some new hunting opportunities!!!

rembrwn
 
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