A gun-shy hunting dog is not very valuable,obviously.While most cases of gun-shyness are hereditary,too many are human -made.Training and gradual introduction are important.Making your pup comfortable around gunfire begins with,very simply,clapping your hands at the puppy”s mealtime.The pup will be spooked,to be sure,the firstfew times he encounters loud bangs,such as cracks of thunder.But he”ll take a cue from your reaction.(Some dogs actually never get over the sound of thunder or fireworks but may be fine with the sound of a shotgun.)
All introduction to loud noises should occur only when the dog”s attention is focused on doing something he enjoys – eating,chasing a bird,romping in the yard,wrestling with another dog.Chow time is the best time to begin exposing the pup to loud noises;nothing is better than filling the tummy.Don”t sound like a Fourth of July grand finale,but clap one or two times while the dog is nose-deep in his bowl.Don”t say anything to the pup or comfort him if he looks spooked;just keep doing whatever you were doing,and soon he”ll go back to his food dish and see that there is nothing to worry about.After a couple weeks,slam a cupboard door shut or bang a pan to increase the volume.
During playtime in the house,bang on a wall every now and then and keep right on playing and enocuraging the pup to play.The loud noises should become part of the background sounds for the dog intesed of distinct events that require a cautious response.Soon,as he begins training for the field,he”ll associate these loud noises with birds.After the first few times you shoot a bird,he”ll put two and two together and conclude that the gun going off means a mouthful of feathers-aslong as you hit what you”re aiming at,that is!
Move those noises out into the field,too.This is a good time to use a blank at this point.While thee pup is running around like a little hooligan,fire off a couple of rounds;if he looks surprised and stops,keep right on walking and encourage him to keep running.Your positive demeanor and body language will be an excellent indicator to the young dog of how to respond to the situation.
If he can be introduced to some birds at this point,and if he shows great drive toward chasing and inspecting them,start to blend in some loud noises.While next to the pup,helping him inspect the bird,have a partner a good distance off fire the blank pistol once or twice.Only fire it if the pup is very curious,almost aggressive,toward the bird,and don”t do it on your pup”s first encounters with birds – you want him to wxperience only one one thing at a time.Some dogs will be very timid when nosing birds,especially live ones,for the first time;now is not the time to shoot off a gun and spook him.Remember:Expose him to gunfire during times that he”s doing something he loves.
A word of caution:Don not take the dog to a trap or skeet range in order to expose him to lots of gunfire.The risk is too great,and this is on of the fastes ways to make the dog gun-shy-it”s too much too soon,sensory overload where the dog”s only logical reaction is withdrawal.The loud noises should be accompanied by something positive and exciting th dog can do-like continuing to eat or chasing a bird – not simply sitting there and listening to the noise.