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Old February 19, 2005, 09:35 AM   #1
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How to cure a dog from being gun-shy.

Next week my wife and I are adopting a 3 year old Flat Coat Retriever. It is a great dog in every aspect but one... loud noises. Originally the dog was brought over from overseas for breeding purposes. The breeders we are adopting the dog from discovered that the dog had problems with a .22 starter pistol or even thunder. Because this trait may be genetic they opted not to breed the dog and put it up for adoption. Does ANYONE have any suggestions on how or if it is possible to break a dog of this condition.
Admitidly I know nothing about dog genetics but I've a hard time beliving there not a solution to this problem. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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Old February 19, 2005, 09:50 PM   #2
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Here is your best bet-- go to a local football field with the dog on lead and a friend. Take a cap gun and start out at 100 yards distance. Have the friend point the pistol away from the dog and every time the guy fires, give the dog a piece of the treat (something really, really good) do this until you are out of caps or the dog is full. Next time, start at 90 yards, same routine. By the time you get to 10 yards, the dog will start salivating when you get anywhere near the football field. Now, start from about 150 yards from the dog in a field somewhere with your friend shooting .22 blanks, repeat as above. I'm sure you get the idea by now. Only treat the dog for ignoring or being calm about the noise. Ifthe dog seems stressed, stop and have the helper back up until the dog can ignore the noise again and treat the dog. session over. Always end on a successful note.

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Old February 20, 2005, 01:15 PM   #3
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Thanks AK. I've got right at 4 acers of land so now I can make good use of it.
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Old February 20, 2005, 04:31 PM   #4
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i read an article somewhere

if i recall correctly there was a tape made of a lot of shooting. the tape was played at a very low volume besude the dogs food constantly and the volume was very slowly increased until it was quite loud then they moved on to cap guns and then .22 blank and then shorts then lr and so on and so forth until the dog was used to it and became a very useful hunting dog. i think id try the first suggestion first though it seems simpler
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Old February 23, 2005, 03:56 PM   #5
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I would even go so far as to bang pots and pans at feeding time...little by little of course...and reward with supper. clap your hands and then call him and play with him. What AK advised is tried and true. Associate the report with play, fun, reward, and pleasing you. I too find it hard to think a flat coat would be genetically gunshy

good luck, and please post yer's my 18 month German Shorthair, Daisy, a hunting fool!
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Old February 23, 2005, 07:15 PM   #6
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The posts above are (if I may make a pun) right on point, and echo what Richard Wolters had to say, in part, in his classic book titled Gun Dog:

"There is always much discussion on the subject of gun-shyness and the hunting puppy. It's greatly exaggerated. Gun-shyness in trained hunting dogs is rare, and most of the cases one hears about involve dogs that have not been trained. They occasionally go into the field to hunt, but they dont know what it's all about and neither does the hunter. A good loud blast of a 12-gauge gun in the ear of one of these dogs who has been living on social security will, of course, naturally scare the hell out of him.

"Conditioning, repeated conditioning, is the answer to much of the training of a dog. Unconsciously he will learn that a loud report is associated with something good, and he won't fear it...

"At mealtime, which is certainly one of the most pleasant times in a puppy's day, we will shoot off a cap pistol. He will associate this irritation, the noise, with something good, the food, and learn to put up with it..."

Although Mr. Wolters speaks of training the puppy, this approach should work with an adult dog, too.

As you work with your dog please remember what the late Gene Hill once said concerning dog-training, "Learn to be patient--learn to think--and try to please him in some small degree as much as he's trying to please you. DON'T MAKE IT HARD FOR HIM TO DO THE BEST HE KNOWS HOW!"

Good luck, and good shooting!
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Old February 23, 2005, 09:28 PM   #7
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You shoot him.
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Old February 23, 2005, 09:36 PM   #8
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We broke a dog of that who turned into an excellent bird dog by firing .22 blanks randomly around the house. We also took her hunting and tied her so she couldn't run away. I guess it was like shock therapy....It took about a month or two before she was finally over it.......
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Old March 6, 2005, 07:14 PM   #9
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you have to take your gunshy dog out with another dog (one who is not gunshy). put a leash on the gunshy dog and have someone go along to hold the leash. take a shotgun to shoot over the dogs and that gunshy dog will be eyeballing that gun the whole time. work the dogs together and before you go to shoot have your partner hold that leash tight to keep the gunshy dog from breaking. it takes more than one time out but your dog will get over being gunshy. works even with grown dog.
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