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Thread: Labrador gun shy

  1. #1

    Labrador gun shy

    Help needed
    I have a 15 month old golden Labrador bitch Which has not been spayed she is very good at retrieving and very loyal a real one man dog. She weighs 28kg.
    But she is gun shy and I have never had a dog that is gun shy so I am lost at what to do ?
    Advice needed please.

  2. #2
    How bad is she? Is she okay if she can hear gunfire, but it's not in the immediate area?

    If so, maybe you could try playing with her a couple of hundred metres from a clay ground, and going gradually closer over the course of a couple of weeks?

  3. #3
    Extremely difficult not all lost but a difficult mend start with the dropped bowl ,slammed door working up to louder noises with this coinciding with positive experiences the dog likes
    good luck take yr time

  4. #4
    Fifteen years ago I bought a Labrador dog of 18 months. From very good working stock, loved retrieving swimming etc. but soon as the gun was produced, would slink away and hide. I tried all the usual advice but it got so bad that one evening on the Ouse Washes, he left me and went half a mile back to the truck.

    Things were not looking good and I thought that I would have to give him away as a pet. I was talking with my wife who applied her long knowledge of looking after a succession of Labradors. We were in the kitchen and the dog way lying by my chair.

    My wife told me to get the shotgun and lay it on the floor, which I did. She then got a chocolate covered biscuit, broke it into small pieces and placed it on the shotgun, even amongst the double triggers.
    After a few minutes the dog came out from his hiding place and started to eat the pieces. His desire for the treat had overcome his fear of the shotgun.

    My wife did this for several days and it ended up with the dog salivating as soon as the shotgun was produced. No more fear of the gun itself.

    Further gentle reintroduction to the sound of firing, together with pieces of broken biscuit in my coat pocket, eventually produced an excellent shooting dog, which I kept until the end of his life at 12 yrs of age. And yes, I know chocky biccies are bad for dogs.
    A pessimist is an optimist with experience.

  5. #5

  6. #6
    Some of the top trainers would say that 15month is too young for the dog to be put near a gun.

  7. #7
    I am not convinced there is such a thing as a born gun shy dog (and here I am referring to gun dog working breeds) but what I am convinced of is that many owners push ahead with training far too soon without having done the ground work and can create a gun shy or gun nervous dog. Dogs cannot be trained to accept gun noise. They should be conditioned from an early age that there is nothing to be afraid of and in fact that noise is good. Starting with metal food dishes, noisy opening of kennel doors which allows freedom and generally teaching him that noise is associated with fun. I always walk with a stick so from day one the pup sees this long article in my hand. When that stick becomes a shotgun he sees nothing different. When the time comes to introduce noise associated with shooting I start by clapping my hands just after he has been sent for the retrieve. It very slowly progresses to a blank firing pistol and such things like playing with him in earshot of a clay ground. Dogs learn from their owner. If you show no apprehension he is far less likely to do so. I presently have a 10 month old cocker. He has just started with a blank pistol a good distance away when being sent for a retrieve. No hurry. He will be nowhere near a shoot till next season so we have all next year. I really think you should forget trying to use this young dog at present. Go back to the beginning with her as regards noise and the presence of a gun. Next season at 2 yrs old she will be a different dog.

  8. #8
    How do u know it is gunshy? How have introduced gunshot?

    It can be tricky depending if it is gun shy or gun nervous, many say a genuine gun shy og will never be cured but most dogs are gun nervous and can be with the right training.
    The advice abive is pretty good, i've never seen the point in the clay ground route as i think u want the dog to associate it with something fun not just sitting/walking close to a random banging noise.
    Howy dunno about too young at 15month, below 8-9month they reckon there ears aren't fully grown/formed so u can damage them introing to shot to young, but many dogs are trialling by 15month so will have been shot over a fair few times

    I tend to just let the pup run with the other dogs and then fire the starter pistol when its playing with them a distance away, pup usually doesnae notice the noise its the older dogs looking for the shot.
    U basically want to associate a loud noise with either food/reward or fun but it might depend on wot u have done previously and how u found ur dog is gun nervous. Possibly at the start get a friend to fire pistol at a big distance and throw a retrieve as a reward if a keen retriever

    My mate had his 8 month lab out the other day for our boundry day and first shot it heard was fairly close to it with a 12g, couldnae think of a worse thing to do, but pup didnae seem to bother. Folk have done it that way for years and u may get away with it but every so often u will create a big problem

  9. #9
    If you're nervous that the dog is likely to be nervous about anything, it is a self fulfilling cycle! The dog will sense your fear/tension , become nervous & the problem is thereby made worse.
    Chill out, follow the training as described above - make it all fun (as with all dog training) whilst letting the dog know who is the alpha of your pack (you). - do it regularly & the bad stimulus will be overcome.
    Remember intimidation will do more harm than good so keep it light & relaxed.


  10. #10
    Countryboy, Let me explain the clay ground "route" and its usefulness. Taking a young dog to a field near a ground gives you an opportunity to play with him and give him some retrieves whilst in the background there is random gunfire. It is replicating to some extent the environment in which he will work. Some dogs will take notice of the noise. Some don't. But as you give him a few retrieves he sees that the noise is of no harm to him or you.

    Your mate is typical of some. 8 month old lab out on a shoot and for the first time in its life is subjected to gunfire. Now if that dog had bolted some would be saying its gunshy/gun nervous. Is it???

    Never compare a trialling dog with the capabilities of a trialling trainer/handler behind it to your dog. Take your time. That dog is going to be with you for years.

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