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Gun Shy Lab #7589775 08/26/19 02:18 PM
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TexasDuckMan Offline OP
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So last year I adopted a young chocolate lab that I hoped to train up as a new bird dog. I learned quickly however that he is EXTREMELY shy about loud noises. Especially gunshots. I have tried a few techniques with no results so far so I wanted to see if anyone out there has any tips.


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Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7589812 08/26/19 02:36 PM
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I bring the dogs to my ranch and tie it up about 100 yards from where I will shoot skeet. Keep doing this weekly and move in 10 yards each time. If they are scared at 100, move them back to 200 and then start. Key is not move in the next 10 yards until the dog is comfortable and not scared at current yardage. It takes patients, but has always worked for me. This also works for non hunting dogs that get scared of fireworks and lightning.

I will also have my daughter or wife give the dog a treat each time the gun goes off (very small treats).

I have used several techniques and this has by far worked the best.

Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7589899 08/26/19 03:51 PM
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OP, hope this helps and you need to understand it will not be a quick fix. Start clanging pots and pans together at a distance while it eats its dinner. Watch the dogs comfort level and progressively move closer over time as it acclimates to loud noises. Then slowly turn up the volume as it gets more confidence. Take your time. When the dog is completely comfortable with the loud noises while eating, repeat the entire progression with a cap gun. Do not rush the process and do not pop the caps over the dog. Finally progress to a 410 from a distance pointed away from the dog. Again gradually work your way closer.
In the meantime introduce birds away from loud noises and stoke the dogs love for birds on a regular basis. You want him retrieving a live wing shackled pigeon with reckless abandon at 80-90 yards.
Finally, after all that is in place and the dog has been conditioned to loud noises and gunfire, with the dog 60 yards away and in hot pursuit to retrieve a live pigeon, pop the 410 off 180 degrees away from the dog. Watch for the dogs reaction. Over time as the dog gains confidence, work your way closer and eventually up to shooting live flyers for it.

Don’t rush this process and don’t shoot over the top of the dog. You are first building by a positive association with loud noises and then gunfire. Then working your way up to the dog looking for a mark at the sound of a shotgun. It will take time for a gunshy dog to settle down.
REPEAT: DO NOT SHOOT OVER THE TOP OF THE DOG.


Smokey Bear---Lone Star State.
Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7602597 09/10/19 12:44 AM
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Smokey Bear has it right, its a long process, if you have children let the dog be around them, as they are usually nosey, the usual house hold noise will help, BE PATINET


hold on Newt, we got a runaway
Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7605170 09/12/19 03:52 PM
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has anyone ever had a dog that was not gun shy and all of sudden he is? happen to my lab after 3 years of hunting then he got gun shy.

Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7607751 09/16/19 12:23 PM
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My experiences is that it kinda a lost cause. If your really into hunting and shooting sports i would consider giving that dog to a family that doesn't hunt. Then buying a dog from a breeder that has breed the shy gene out. I have never personally had a gun shy dog but i have also purchased puppies and from the day they came home loud noises was a normal daily dinner bell.

Sorry man...

Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: Deer-getter] #7607976 09/16/19 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Deer-getter
has anyone ever had a dog that was not gun shy and all of sudden he is? happen to my lab after 3 years of hunting then he got gun shy.



Something happened to make the dog gun shy.

Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: huck18] #7608443 09/17/19 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by huck18
Originally Posted by Deer-getter
has anyone ever had a dog that was not gun shy and all of sudden he is? happen to my lab after 3 years of hunting then he got gun shy.



Something happened to make the dog gun shy.



This

A sibling to one of my dogs, several titles, field trialed, and a hard driving hunting dog, had another dog handler at an event accidentally fire a gun off right next to the dog's head. That dog was gun shy from that moment on. Think Snake avoidance training. Many dogs are deathly scared of the sight, sound, and smell of a snake after a single training session. My older Vizsla was deathly scared of any snake shaped object for years after a single real snake bite incident. This is why some gun shy dogs are just as scared of the sight of a gun as they are the sound of it.

Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: Sniper John] #7608478 09/17/19 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Sniper John
Originally Posted by huck18
Originally Posted by Deer-getter
has anyone ever had a dog that was not gun shy and all of sudden he is? happen to my lab after 3 years of hunting then he got gun shy.



Something happened to make the dog gun shy.



This

A sibling to one of my dogs, several titles, field trialed, and a hard driving hunting dog, had another dog handler at an event accidentally fire a gun off right next to the dog's head. That dog was gun shy from that moment on. Think Snake avoidance training. Many dogs are deathly scared of the sight, sound, and smell of a snake after a single training session. My older Vizsla was deathly scared of any snake shaped object for years after a single real snake bite incident. This is why some gun shy dogs are just as scared of the sight of a gun as they are the sound of it.



Things happen. I have a retriever I gun conditioned last year and shot a lot of quail over last Jan/Feb. it was slow dove hunting opening morning and I shot a dove over her while she was asleep. She freaked out and was scared when I reloaded, but still fetched the dove. She was like that all morning and crawled under the truck, but still wanted to retrieve. I went back to a blank pistol on pigeons and a dead quail. She’s doing fine now. Who knows what goes on between a dogs ears. Some gun shy dogs can be salvaged and some can’t. Do the best you can and cut your losses if it doesn’t work out.

Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7608541 09/17/19 02:53 AM
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I had a similar issue with one of my Vizslas. He hunted hard for three years then on a quail hunt in South Texas he got startled or hurt when a covey we just walked into busted and I shot while standing a few feet away from him. I believe he got startled and jumped into a cactus or small mesquite or one of the other thousand sharp thorny plants. He went back to the truck and hasn’t hunted since. He is 13 years old now. He cowers any time I get my guns out at the house to go hunting. I tried everything to get him back in the field with no luck. Wasn’t jumpy at all when I gun trained him. My other pups took longer and a lot more patience to get gun trained.
If they’ve never hunted or been gun conditioned I think you have a chance with your lab if you do it slowly like everyone recommended, but once they are trained an lose it I think you are done.

Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7608936 09/17/19 04:58 PM
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I would bring the dog to the vet and make sure it doesn't have an ear infection. no reason for a dog to all a sudden not like the gun shot unless 1) some event happened with gun to scare it 2) the gun shot hurts the dogs ears

Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7608962 09/17/19 05:16 PM
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Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7627565 10/08/19 09:33 PM
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I had a golden retriever that hunted for several years and did great. Went to hunt one afternoon and she got out of the truck and then went right underneath it and finally came out and just started running down the road. Never hunted again.

Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7641967 10/25/19 05:02 PM
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if your dog has a strong prey drive you can get a live duck and have him/her chase it in a pond (like he would a crippled bird) and shoot starting at a far distance and working closer with each session. If you dog has a good prey drive he should be focused on the bird more so than the shot and eventually associate the shot with an activity he enjoys.

Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: Rnelson] #7668993 11/21/19 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Rnelson
My experiences is that it kinda a lost cause. If your really into hunting and shooting sports i would consider giving that dog to a family that doesn't hunt. Then buying a dog from a breeder that has breed the shy gene out. I have never personally had a gun shy dog but i have also purchased puppies and from the day they came home loud noises was a normal daily dinner bell.

Sorry man...



that's what I would do.
same with a dog that won't hunt, some just won't hunt. He's a goner.


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Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: reeltexan] #7669145 11/21/19 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by reeltexan

Originally Posted by Rnelson
My experiences is that it kinda a lost cause. If your really into hunting and shooting sports i would consider giving that dog to a family that doesn't hunt. Then buying a dog from a breeder that has breed the shy gene out. I have never personally had a gun shy dog but i have also purchased puppies and from the day they came home loud noises was a normal daily dinner bell.

Sorry man...



that's what I would do.
same with a dog that won't hunt, some just won't hunt. He's a goner.


I didn’t know there was a gun shy gene. I think most gun shy dogs are made from human error. I believe each dog is an individual. That’s why some make the cut and some don’t. Some dogs out of the same litter don’t measure up to what someone wants, give that dog to another man and he thinks it’s the best thing on 4 legs. I have a lab right now that I killed a bunch of bird over last season. She never acted like she heard the gun. Opening morning of dove she was asleep at my feet and I fired over her head and it scared the [censored] out of her. She was soft to the gun all dove season but still retrieved. I went back to the 22 pistol while dead birding her at the house and she’s doing better. I’ll let her heel next to me during quail season and I think she’ll get out of it with the excitement if we can get a few coveys. She’s as well bred as they come.

Last edited by scalebuster; 11/21/19 10:46 PM.
Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: scalebuster] #7688321 12/14/19 01:34 AM
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"I didn’t know there was a gun shy gene." There isn't. That's a euphemism for "I don't have the patience to train a dog".


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Re: Gun Shy Lab [Re: TexasDuckMan] #7695126 12/21/19 06:36 PM
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Lots of good advice. Only thing I would add if it hasn’t already been mentioned is to really work on building the dogs drive to retrieve. Make it as crazy about retrieving as you can and hopefully the dogs desire to retrieve will over ride other distractions. I know this is not possible with every dog.
Also when doing the shooting from 100-150 yards out be at your dogs side playing or throwing and have someone else do the shooting. Try to distract him and keep it up beat so hopefully the shooting will just be a background noise. I don’t think it’s a good idea to leave a potentially gun shy dog by itself 100-150 yards away in silence free to worry about the shooting. Keep him busy and don’t give him time to worry.

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