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Old November 23, 2012, 10:18 AM   #1
UtopiaTexasG19
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Should I Practice Shoot Around my Hunting Dogs?

When practice shooting behind my house I have the option of penning my dogs up relatively far from the shooting and noise. In order to protect their hearing would this be a good idea? They are also very good watch dogs around the property at night and I wonder if their constant presence around my target practicing might damage their ears to the point that they cannot hear delicate sounds around the property. These are Labrador Retrievers and I would hate to diminish their capabilities in any way. In other words....does unprotected hearing while shooting affect the dogs ears like it does to humans?
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Old November 23, 2012, 10:34 AM   #2
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Old November 23, 2012, 11:54 AM   #3
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does unprotected hearing while shooting affect the dogs ears like it does to humans?
According to my vet, yes.

FWIW, like humans,welding around dogs damages their eyesight as well.
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Old November 23, 2012, 12:42 PM   #4
Wild Bill Bucks
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Repeated gunfire around any animal is going to effect their hearing.

In the case of hunting dogs, they are very seldom in front of the barrel, where most of the sound comes out.

Most hunting dogs will be a good distance from the hunter when he shoots, such as bird hunters shooting into the air, would tend to throw the sound away from the dog on the ground. I would think that chasing dogs would be in the most danger, such as beagles chasing rabbits, where they would sometimes be a short way from the rabbit when the hunter shoots.

I think it is only smart to keep your dogs away from overly exposing them to shooting practice, or can killing, as we call it around here, but one must realize that if you are going to hunt the dogs, they are not going to be protected in the field.
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Old November 24, 2012, 12:13 AM   #5
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If they are already trained and are no longer gun shy. Then, by all means, do not expose them more than necessary. BTW, hunting dogs are seldom behind the muzzle when the weapon is fired. Contrary.........they are usually out in front of it. Of course they are not being fired at directly, but nonetheless they are in front of the muzzle.
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Old November 24, 2012, 07:36 AM   #6
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excuse me but labradors and good watch dogs?

a stranger is a just a friend you haven't met have seemed to be the motto of every lab I have ever met


And more on topic, two of my dogs have grown deafish in old age but that was like in their last year or so and one of them was due to a nasty ear infection.

All my dogs have always loved the sound of a shotgun or fireworks
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Old November 24, 2012, 09:27 AM   #7
UtopiaTexasG19
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"excuse me but labradors and good watch dogs?"

Yes, We've had wild packs of Purina and cases of Alpo try to slip under the perimeter fence and they were disbatched in quick order.
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Old November 24, 2012, 11:19 AM   #8
big al hunter
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Labrador watch dogs

I have yet to enter any piece of property belonging to a lab that my presence was not announced long before I made it to the gate. I am usually greeted with wagging tails and wet noses happy to meet me, but everyone in earshot knew I was there.
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Old November 24, 2012, 11:27 AM   #9
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My mom and dads neighbors have two black labs. They are the two dumbest most aggressive, poor tempered dogs I think they've ever had. If thay can even hear you they are barking and snarling.
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Old November 24, 2012, 12:32 PM   #10
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My mom and dads neighbors have two black labs. They are the two dumbest most aggressive, poor tempered dogs I think they've ever had. If thay can even hear you they are barking and snarling.
How is that relevant to the topic at hand? Dogs that aren't properly trained and socialized can become aggressive and poor tempered. That can happen to any breed of dog though some breeds are more prone to that than others. Labs (from personal experience) are not as prone to this as other breeds but as I said before lack of proper training and socializing can (and most of the time does) lead to this.

Anyway now to the point of the thread:

I've trained many a hunting dog (labs and other flushing retrievers) and while my dogs and the dogs I train are exposed to gun fire on a daily basis you need to keep in mind that the gun fire is not continuous fire nor is it hundreds of rounds at a time. Typically we're looking at 10-20 rounds AT MOST (usually its more like 5-10 rounds) per dog per day that they're exposed to. Even then most of that is fired at a distance from the dog (anywhere from 50 to 500 yards).

If you fire a lot around your dog he/she will lose their hearing just like you would without hearing protection. A dog that is deaf will be less likely to hear you or others coming and while your dog may not be aggressive naturally a dog that is surprised because you came up from behind and he/she didn't know you were there might just snap at you at first simply because they were surprised.

All that aside if you've got hunting dogs you want to be able to communicate with them and the easiest way to do that is via their hearing. If your dog can't hear you because of hearing loss you will have lost your long distance recall of the dog as well as any chance for you to get his/her attention.

In short the answer is no don't shoot a lot around your dogs - especially with hunting rifles, ARs, AKs and service caliber handguns.
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Old November 24, 2012, 01:04 PM   #11
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had a buddy of mine suggest using suppressed weapons when hunting with dogs. I know it seems a little "tacticool" but I think it would help.
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Old November 24, 2012, 02:30 PM   #12
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My wife and I adopted a German Shepherd dog who did not meet the standards of A police dog. Apparently the trainers tried to get him used to gunfire at too close a range and he became extremely gun shy. Fireworks sent him scrambling for cover and every time I brought out a gun (even if it was a simple air rifle) he headed for cover at just the sight of the rifle. If the dog is behind the shooter and in an open area where the sound of the shot dissipates quickly the dog will most likely learn to handle the sound of gunfire. When you try to train a dog to accept gunfire on a small range with lots of other guns being fired and they find themselves in front of the muzzle they will often become gun shy. My Irish setter and three boarder collies never had a problem as long as they were behind me when I shot. You could usually find the german shepherd cowering in the bathtub. One of the boarder collies never got freaked out by anything but started acting freaked out during thunderstorms and fireworks because she discovered she could get extra attention and treats from my wife if she acted scared. When a coyote threatened the chickens she kept them away from the coop while I shot the coyote as it circled around the coop. I think the sound of the shot dissipated over the open land. My dad and one of his hunting partners shot at a deer from 400 yards away one year. They each took four shots at the deer before they realized they were having scope problems. The sound of their shots in the open land meant the sound had diminished enough that the deer was never scared off even though they were splashing bullets all around the buck while trying to readjust their scopes. The deer walked off without injury while the hunters scratched their heads trying to figure out how their scopes could have lost zero so quickly. I don't hunt with dogs, but If i did I would do what I could to minimize damage to their hearing.
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Old November 24, 2012, 03:13 PM   #13
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My wife and I adopted a German Shepherd dog who did not meet the standards of A police dog. Apparently the trainers tried to get him used to gunfire at too close a range and he became extremely gun shy. Fireworks sent him scrambling for cover and every time I brought out a gun (even if it was a simple air rifle) he headed for cover at just the sight of the rifle. If the dog is behind the shooter and in an open area where the sound of the shot dissipates quickly the dog will most likely learn to handle the sound of gunfire. When you try to train a dog to accept gunfire on a small range with lots of other guns being fired and they find themselves in front of the muzzle they will often become gun shy. My Irish setter and three boarder collies never had a problem as long as they were behind me when I shot. You could usually find the german shepherd cowering in the bathtub. One of the boarder collies never got freaked out by anything but started acting freaked out during thunderstorms and fireworks because she discovered she could get extra attention and treats from my wife if she acted scared. When a coyote threatened the chickens she kept them away from the coop while I shot the coyote as it circled around the coop. I think the sound of the shot dissipated over the open land. My dad and one of his hunting partners shot at a deer from 400 yards away one year. They each took four shots at the deer before they realized they were having scope problems. The sound of their shots in the open land meant the sound had diminished enough that the deer was never scared off even though they were splashing bullets all around the buck while trying to readjust their scopes. The deer walked off without injury while the hunters scratched their heads trying to figure out how their scopes could have lost zero so quickly. I don't hunt with dogs, but If i did I would do what I could to minimize damage to their hearing.
That was rather rambling and difficult to understand. Next time try typing in paragraphs and focused thoughts.

That said there are a few points in this post I'd like to address regarding dogs and gun fire.

First off I'd like to debunk the myth that some dogs are just born gun shy. That's absolutely not true. Dogs aren't born knowing what gunfire is and being afraid of it.

That said dogs DO know to shy away from things that cause them pain or discomfort. The key is to reward them for NOT shying away when the shot is made. This reward comes in the form of a retrieve then being pet and complimented afterwards. This is how I teach puppies not to be gun shy. I first teach them to retrieve (which is a form of play for them). When they've grown to really LOVE the retrieve I then introduce them to gunfire. A shot from a distance at first (usually at least 50 yards away) and in a direction other than toward us. The pup will startle and look in the direction of the shot - just in time to see the bumper being thrown. This then starts the pup in associating the shot with something being thrown or flushed so they can retrieve it. Send the pup on the retrieve and when he/she comes back reward him/her with petting and praise.

When the pup/dog startles at gunfire it is absolutely necessary to DO NOTHING! Don't try to calm the dog with attention/treats/petting etc. Just let it pass. If the dog sees that you, the owner and leader, are not reacting to the shot the dog will in time accept that the sound of gunfire ISN'T bad and won't react poorly toward it. Instead he/she will start to look forward to gunfire after a while because it means they'll have something to go retrieve.

Now about the GSD that was gun shy - its entirely possible that the breeders of the dog had already made the dog gun shy before training OR the trainers had handled the introduction to firearms poorly. In any case I don't know of ANY dog that would run for cover the first time they heard gunfire ever. Usually it takes repeated poor reactions (left uncorrected) for that to occur. In any case once a dog is gun shy it is very difficult to train that out of a dog. It typically requires some rather tough training methods that most trainers (including myself) are not willing to utilize because its borderline animal cruelty. Of course the best way to combat gun shyness is to prevent it from occurring at all.

Regarding the deer at 400 yards and not running away; deer do not instinctively know that gunfire is a bad thing and as such they may startle at the sound but at 400 yards the sound is quieter than say at 25 yards. Unless they can actually see people at 400 yards (which if the hunters were camouflaged and/or in blinds would make that difficult) the deer would most likely continue on with their business since nothing in their DNA is telling them that gunfire is dangerous despite the fact that they might find it startling at first. That said if your dad and his friend were missing at 400 yards with a scoped rifle one has to wonder if it was the scope/gun or the shooter - especially if they could still hit their marks with said scope/gun combo at shorter distances.

A lot of hunters also forget that a gun sighted in at say 100 yards will not have the same POA/POI at 200 yards much less 400 yards. Most hunters nowadays (not including the hard core hunters or people who just like to shoot a lot then go hunting) do not have the skills necessary to properly judge distance and determine proper hold over for said distance. That's why scopes that have bullet drop a compensator and especially the new scopes that electronically determine distance, wind speed and then put a little dot on the reticle where you should be holding over at are so popular.

So again back to the point of the topic - don't go blasting away with loud guns over your dogs.
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Old November 24, 2012, 03:13 PM   #14
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I exposed my Lab to shooting at an early age. whenever I picked up a gun he was at the door wanting to go. The only problem was that when I was target shooting he tried to retrieve the bullets.

As to a use as a guard dog, he never failed to alert when someone approached the property. If he sensed a threat he changed from a tail wagging friendly dog to a black terror.

In one case someone was attempting to break into the house. His fierce bark stopped the break in cold.
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Old November 30, 2012, 02:46 AM   #15
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I'd put the dogs up, away from the shooting.

Gunfire sure will hurt a dogs ears, for good, just like people.

My ol' pal Sammy had a dandy yellow lab, that he hunted hard.... ..Ace. Ace was deaf/poor hearing at early middle age (the dog now mind you) due to all his time in a duck blind. Sammy's hearing ain't so hot either.
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Old December 1, 2012, 02:42 PM   #16
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One of my friends has a stud dog that is a master hunter, he has been shot over while hunting so much he can't here. It is a good thing he handles.
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Old December 1, 2012, 06:22 PM   #17
Hansam
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One of my friends has a stud dog that is a master hunter, he has been shot over while hunting so much he can't here. It is a good thing he handles.
If the dog doesn't hear the shrill sound of the whistle or your shouting voice then the once handling dog now becomes a dog that doesn't handle.

If you can't get the dog's attention you can't handle the dog. Plain and simple.

Imagine sending the dog off on a blind retrieve and you can't get the dog to sit down and look at you for handling because he/she can't hear your whistle/shout...
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