Gun shy training

PSE Composites Limited

Fabnosh

Well-Known Member
Hi All

I'm looking for some advice on training a Lab (arriving soon) not to be gun shy. Used to have working Labs and they generally got their gun manners merely by continually being around guns. However, life has moved on and I'm not in a position to have them around gun noise from an early age. This dog will be a full time family dog and a part time deer dog so I'm after some advice on what the best route for training would be from day one.

Thanks

FN
 

perdix

Well-Known Member
I just used to go about things normally around a pup and expose them to everyday noises in the home.
​I might add that an occasional dropped feed bowl,clapping of hands and even a trip to a clay ground can be thrown in the mix at a reasonable age
 

BunnyDoom

Well-Known Member
Only trained one but he's not remotely bothered by bangs - as above advice worked, also I used to slap doors and clap loudly without showing any reaction myself. Then I started shooting air rifle at his ball (tennis ball!) then letting him go and get it. I built this up from rimfire to shooting centre fire and he now goes and gets my targets for me.

Probably violated some well respected way of training (!!!)... but he's not remotely gun shy.
 

Wolverine

Well-Known Member
Gun shyness can't be trained for.
Fabnosh why do you think your dog will be gunshy?
​Bunnydoom,why do you think your dog is not gunshy when it has nothing to do with training-however you've "trained" him.:thumb:
Handy trick with the target.
 
Last edited:

Fabnosh

Well-Known Member
Hi there

The use of the term 'gunshy' was merely a generic term to convey meaning. Clearly one has no idea on a pup yet to be born whether it will be gunshy or not. The spirit of the thread was about offering the best training for an animal so that its reaction to gunshots will be positive. I have no crystal ball (other than its parents) on what the dog will be like so in the absence of that, I thought I'd go for preparation and ask the question.

So, any training suggestions ?

FN

Gun shyness can't be trained for.
Fabnosh why do you think your dog will be gunshy?
​Bunnydoom,why do you think your dog is not gunshy when it has nothing to do with training-however you've "trained" him.:thumb:
Handy trick with the target.
 

Wolverine

Well-Known Member
Gunshyness is inherited
Gun nervousness is mainly man made-eg introduction to gunfire too early too noisily.
Dogs with gunshyness should never be bred.
Ive seen dogs that literally shake on hearing a bang.
Seen ones at the worst stage of this eventually be cured from it,a lot of work.
Gunshy dogs will run from the noise even on a lead,really trying to get away....
If parents are fine-which I presume they will be-chances are your pup will be fine.
If not chances are you have caused the problem.(by chance or not)
A pup not exposed to gunfire too early will not suffer from it,whereas one exposed too early will.
Let a pup be a pup.
Once pup is around a year old,then think about introduction to gunfire,no need to rush.
From around 4-6months start banging food dish prior to feeding it,clapping hands etc,your pup should be fine with gunfire if you don't rush it.
Also take it into house to get used to background noise,that way gunfire is just another noise-nothing special.
Clay shoots-a bit in at the deep end,especially if dog is nervous at all.
Best to get friend to shoot rifle/shotgun(remember,they do sound different)a good distance away then watch pupil,if pupil fine,move closer,etc etc......
 

perdix

Well-Known Member
Good advice there especially let the pup be a pup.
BTW the clay shoot suggestion was at a decent age.
If you watch your pup you should know how it reacts to any noise and train to that level at that point in time.
 

Greymaster

Well-Known Member
Gunshyness is inherited.
Gun nervousness is mainly man made-eg introduction to gunfire too early too noisily.

I see that you are seeking to split the general understanding of gunshyness into two definitions. Unthinking introduction to gunfire can elicit exactly the same responses as you describe for your definition of gunshyness.

I disagree that gunshyness is inherited. Is there a gene for it? Is it possessed by the handler or the dog?
 

Wolverine

Well-Known Member
Gunshyness I believe can be inherited,I also believe that through seeing pups that had been bred by someone crossing a gunshy dog to a very good bitch,something that should never have happened(gunshy not nervous-I think nervousness can be cured with work)
The pups were all nervous-every one of them,out of 8,4 were completely gunshy,no bangs or anything in the vicinity of the pups-or so I was told.
And,yes,unthinking intro to too much noise too young can make a dog nervous of noise as well.
A handler if they push a dog can make that dog nervous.
A handler with a gunshy pup can be very careful but that dog will still be gunshy.Very scared.
So you tell me Greymaster is there a gene for it(is there a gene for hard mouth?is there a gene for ability to track?is there a gene for being very hard headed?)
Are they possessed by the handler?
I believe gunshyness can be inherited,guys I used to know who had much more dogs than I,had pups who right from the start were shy of noise-never mind gunfire.
Over the years I have only come across a handful of dogs that were gun shy.
In most cases these were not dogs of good working pedigree and the problem had no doubt come through the genes,I always concluded.However I have had dogs brought to me by people that are gun nervous or gun sensitive dogs.This is by far the most common problem and one that usually has been developed through a misguided introduction to the gun.Perdix,I seen the age comment,your right.
 
Last edited:

bruce w

Well-Known Member
perhaps i have been lucky with pups or have avoided owning nervous dogs and horses ,by around 8 months if they saw me with the shotgun i couldnt get out of the house ,without them going nuts wanting to go along ,as pointed out a noisy enviroment is the key ,with a gun it isnt just a noise its the sound wave we have to take into account , a windy day is a big help to carry the sharpness away in early days ,and if they see you bounce a young rabbit over early on it soon makes sense to them .
 

jamross65

Well-Known Member
I have never done the banging feed bowls, clapping around the dogs or making any other noises to be honest. Only time I would clap was when throwing a dummy for the pup, to get it's attention and start with the noise/retrieve association. Any other noise in puppyhood would be purely coincidental and from day to day life.

Any pup I have bought, or from a litter bred myself, have always been bold and confident and I have known that when the time comes they would take the bang from the gun in their stride, like all other new experiences up to that point with only minor encouragement needed. I think a lot of it is simply to do with the socialising they get with the family and me. I spend a lot of time with them, playing, fighting with them in the garden, constantly verbally encouraging them. Just part of the bonding process which I am convinced lets the dog gain confidence in simply being with you as it's mate.

When it comes to the introduction of the gun I haven't always got help from someone else either to fire it at a distance away so I can stay with the pup encouraging and reassuring it. Often if the pup appears confident enough to be sat and 'stay' I will walk off and leave it, fire the gun away from it from 40yds or so then straight back showering it with praise. Only reaction has been on occasion for it to stand up wondering what was happening. Tail wagging throughout though.

A dummy launcher helps as well as an introduction to the bang.

I have also thought there to be a difference between gun shy and gun nervousness. I certainly would not expect anyone to breed from a nervous dog frightened of the bang. Surely that is a trait whether inherent or not (nervousness I mean) that would not be on the list of qualities looked for before considering breeding?
 

Wolverine

Well-Known Member
I have never done the banging feed bowls, clapping around the dogs or making any other noises to be honest. Only time I would clap was when throwing a dummy for the pup, to get it's attention and start with the noise/retrieve association. Any other noise in puppyhood would be purely coincidental and from day to day life.

Any pup I have bought, or from a litter bred myself, have always been bold and confident and I have known that when the time comes they would take the bang from the gun in their stride, like all other new experiences up to that point with only minor encouragement needed. I think a lot of it is simply to do with the socialising they get with the family and me. I spend a lot of time with them, playing, fighting with them in the garden, constantly verbally encouraging them. Just part of the bonding process which I am convinced lets the dog gain confidence in simply being with you as it's mate.

When it comes to the introduction of the gun I haven't always got help from someone else either to fire it at a distance away so I can stay with the pup encouraging and reassuring it. Often if the pup appears confident enough to be sat and 'stay' I will walk off and leave it, fire the gun away from it from 40yds or so then straight back showering it with praise. Only reaction has been on occasion for it to stand up wondering what was happening. Tail wagging throughout though.

A dummy launcher helps as well as an introduction to the bang.

I have also thought there to be a difference between gun shy and gun nervousness. I certainly would not expect anyone to breed from a nervous dog frightened of the bang. Surely that is a trait whether inherent or not (nervousness I mean) that would not be on the list of qualities looked for before considering breeding?
Ditto....but with a nervous pup that is showing signs of fear of noise-always better someone else helping.
As Bruce and Jamross says very rare nowadays out of good working stock-shyness-it wasn't always like that.
​As said nervousness can be caused.
 

countrryboy

Well-Known Member
Must admit wot i tend to do is wait till my young dog is playing and having fun with my other dogs and then fire the starter pistol from 40 or 50m, but to be fair u generally don't expect any prob's as u wait till the dog is ready and mature enough. I think it's something like 6-8 months untill the dogs eardrums can even take the sound/pressure so i would not dream off fireing a 12g anywhere near until that age. Also I never really get the clay ground thing unless a long way away, a young dog being dragged about on a lead and sitting for long periods while loud bangs go off isn't really that positive a thing for the dog esp for a young dog. Possibly fair enough to steady an older dog for the peg but that is something different

Like jamross said clap hands as throw dummy and get the pup to assoc bang with something positive it loves doing
If ur sensible u shouldn't have any prob's.

I have heard off a few dogs being near to ruined (keepers are often the worst) in the back off the pick up and u see something out the window and shoot it, without thinking off the dog in the back.

In the last few years a few mates off mine have took on freebie springers that have all been very nervous and most have ended up being given back, not just gun nervous just nervous about everything, possibly not socialised as a pup? Althou some of the spaniel breeding seems to throw some nervous type dogs nowadays.
U would also be surprised some of the sh**e people breed with, i would never have a cocker (despite knowing some very good cocker trainers) as seen quite a few folk breeding with terrible cockers that yapp, yipp whine and bark when on game, tend to be more rough shooters/beaters, and then claim in the adverts good working dogs:doh:
 

Wolverine

Well-Known Member
No surprise at all.....re-crap being bred.....
Springers aren't the dog they used to be,neither are cockers.....
 

Bomag

Well-Known Member
Neither my cocker nor my Patty are bothered by gunfire (whether rifle or shotgun). My Cocker is a Tawnyhill, that I sent back to be trained by Tony, shes great around gunfire, but hates fireworks. My Patty was hunting squirrels when we were shooting dreys, it was fun for her and she's not bothered by gunshot or fireworks. My old Toller was never bothered either, I started with air rifles and worked up to fullbore, I also took him to clay shoots and firework displays, he was never bothered by gunfire or fireworks.

Good breeding, and watching your dogs reaction to loud noises helps.
 

Shabz

Well-Known Member
Is there a gene for it? Is it possessed by the handler or the dog?

I find this an interesting question. Most of the nervous dogs I have ever met tend to have had nervous handlers. Apart from a few shy springer spaniels that i've met in recent times.

Personally, I've never really done anything specifically intended to introduce a dog to gunshot. Mine have always just got on with it. There are plenty of loud noises in general everyday life and, as jamross said, I think socialising a puppy properly gives it the confidence to deal with whatever life throws at it.


I usually try to take puppies to game fairs. They're fantastic places for (five or six month old) puppies. Loads of dogs, people and random bangs from muskets or whatever they are and the distant crack of the clay shoot wherever it is.
 

jamross65

Well-Known Member
Neither my cocker nor my Patty are bothered by gunfire (whether rifle or shotgun). My Cocker is a Tawnyhill, that I sent back to be trained by Tony, shes great around gunfire, but hates fireworks. My Patty was hunting squirrels when we were shooting dreys, it was fun for her and she's not bothered by gunshot or fireworks. My old Toller was never bothered either, I started with air rifles and worked up to fullbore, I also took him to clay shoots and firework displays, he was never bothered by gunfire or fireworks.

Good breeding, and watching your dogs reaction to loud noises helps.

A good few years ago when I had 4 labs who were used to a lot of picking up and sitting at a peg for loading, I came home on the 5th November late in the evening and there were fireworks going off from neighboring gardens and was not sure what to expect from the dogs. I looked out the bedroom window to the kennels outside and without a word of a lie all of them were out sitting in their runs watching them going off without making the slightest noise in fear! When I went out to them for a walk they carried on just like any other night...
 

Fabnosh

Well-Known Member
Guys

Thanks for your suggestions, experience and debate. There are some good specific hints and tips coming through but many common themes so many thanks for these. I'll let you know how things go. I know every dog is different but knowing both parents - who are both outstanding gun dogs - is reassuring given some of the comments. That said, it never hurts to have a variety of tools in the box to address any issues.

FN
 
CDSG Shooting Sports
Top