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Anyone know how to break a gunshy dog?

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Anyone know how to break a gunshy dog?

Old 03-01-2010, 07:33 PM
Nontypical Buck
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Default Anyone know how to break a gunshy dog?

My aunt and uncle have adopted a mutt of sorts that has some sort of field spaniel in it. I took it out this past fall to help try to find a downed bird cause they live a half mile away. They said it was gunshy so I didnt bring a gun and kept him on a rope. Not expecting much we got out of the car and I took him through the area where the bird fell. Well eventually it got really birdy and then went on full point which totally threw me off gaurd and the pheasant ran around a bit and managed to take flight before I could pounce. It was past season by that point so I didnt have a gun.
My question for you is do you know any ways to break a gunshy dog? They say that it doesnt like loud noises.. I havent witnessed it personally because Ive only met the dog once but I think it has GREAT hunting potential because it listens good and obviously has a good nose and points birds. I think that its only a couple years old as well and is generally timid which might make the loud noises thing more severe looking than it really is. Thoughts? Also Im not hiring a professional for a mutt dog
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:02 PM
Nontypical Buck
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You basically have to make the dog accustomed to loud noises & treat them as if nothing is happening when the noise happens. There are several ways to do this. Remember that gunshy is a man-made problem, & therefore will require a man-made solution.
Start out by popping a paper bag in another room while the dog is enjoying his food. Keep doing this for several days, getting progressively closer to the dog, always while eating. NEVER make any kind of fuss over the noise. In fact, pretend it isn't happening at all. The dog will take his cues from you on how to deal with the noises.
Once the dog is comfortable with this, take him to your local trap range. It will be helpful if someone you & the dog know is already shooting at said range. Casually walk up with the dog to where the shooting is going on, & visit with those who are doing the shooting. As before, pretend that the noise isn't even happening, & the dog will follow your cues. If you explain to the others @ the range that you are gun-breaking the dog, I'm sure they will be willing to help.
Good luck! Sounds like your little protege is already on his way!
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Old 03-03-2010, 05:24 AM
Nontypical Buck
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Just because the dog is afraid of loud noises does not necessarily mean he is gun shy. My Springer is almost 8 yrs old and he will run and hide if I slap my hand on the table or make unusually loud noises. This same dog, who lives to hunt, doesn't even flinch when I shoot my 12 ga over him. That's because he is focussed on finding birds and now realizes the sound of a gun shot means a bird is (hopefully) down. He knows it's all part of the hunt.

There are many good websites about gun shyness in dogs. Google and you will begin to see what others have done. In the case of my dog, I was conerned that he may have been gun shy when younger but that was never the case. Introduction to gun shots must be made well after the dog has ben introduced to other loud sounds. The last thing I would do is introduce my dog to loud shooting at a gun range without spending much needed time before hand.

The biggest thing in training a dog to try to ignore loud sounds around him is to make him excited in what he is doing. Chasing tennis balls, swimming, taking him into the woods are things I done well before making any loud sounds around him. Firing small caliber rounds like a .22 is recommended rather than the loud sounds of a shot gun. If you unable to shoot in your area, you can use a couple foot long 2x4's and have a friend slap them together to make a loud sound but ensure that the dog is having fun and is focussed on what he loves to do. Begin at least 100 yds away and move slowly close when you feel the dog is unaffected by the sound. This is just one small piece of advice that I have uses successfully and again, search the internet and you will find much more information that hopefully will be useful.

Good Luck!
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Old 03-03-2010, 07:30 AM
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I know I'm new around here and dont meen to hurt any feelings, But where did you guys hear of this banging pots and pans stuff. And OMG taking a dog to a to a gun range. DON"T DO THAT!!!!
Guys and gals Here is a simple way to make a gun dog, The instructions are for pups, but you can adapt it to fit your needs. It doesn't matter if the dog is 3 months or 12 years this method works.

Step 1: You will need 3 quail and your pup. 1) Pull the primary flight feathers on both wings from the first quail and allow the pup to chase, catch and carry the quail, only positive encouragement from you. 2) Pull the primary flight feathers from one side of the second quail, this will allow the quail to “flutter” in the air and gets the pup really excited. Allow the pup to chase and catch. 3) Do not pull any feathers from this quail, put it to sleep and plant it where the scent cone will be easy for the pup to locate. Walk the pup around the area until it smells the scent cone. The pup may point, but will usually pounce and the quail will fly away.

Step 2: One to two weeks following Step 1 – Again you will need 3 quail. 1) If the pup is lacking interest, you may need to repeat #2 from Step 1. 2) Plant the quail where the pup will not have too much trouble locating the scent cone. Walk the pup around the birds until the pup locates the scent cone on it own. The pup may pounce on the 1st or 2nd one, but the quail will fly away and the pup will not be able to catch it.
Note: By the end of Step 2, 75 % of the pups are pointing and holding their points.

Step 3: One to two weeks following Step 1 – Again you will need 3 quail. Repeat #2 from Step 2. You can, at this step, introduce the check cord. Let the pup drag the cord. When the pup goes on point, hold the end of the cord giving the pup about 4 foot of slack. Stand on the cord so you are not tempted to pull the pup back. When the pup pounces on the bird and the bird flies away, the pup will hit the end of the cord when, or if, it chases. Do not give any verbal commands, this will allow the pup to “learn” that it can not chase.

Note: By the end of Step 3, 100% of the pups should be pointing and holding their points.

You can keep repeating Step 3 for as long as you need to. I use the check cord as described in Step 3 when I begin to shoot birds for the pup (it then becomes a two person job, one to stand on the cord, and one to flush and shoot the birds). This allows the pup to “learn” that they must be steady.

When the pup does point, do not say anything and stand perfectly motionless. This allows the pup to learn that the bird will not move if he doesn’t move, and since the pup has learned he can not catch the bird if he chases, he will be more apt to hold the point.
Less is Better. Do not feel that you need to put the pup on birds several times a week. Putting the pup on birds once a week or once every two weeks is adequate. You want to take it slow and easy at this young age.

Silent is better. I refrain from using verbal commands with young pups. This allows them to “learn” and not have to be taught.

Last edited by roo3006; 03-03-2010 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:18 AM
Nontypical Buck
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I'm not sure where the comment about banging pots and pans came from. When I mentioned clapping a couple 2x4's together is because it a single loud sound, similar to a .22. It can be used when firing a weapon is not possible.

Also, I believe the subject of this thread was gun shyness, not entirely on making a gun dog.
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:30 AM
Fork Horn
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Here is a post I made a while back when this question was asked...

unfortunatley there is no quick fix for this.

It is going to take a lot of time and patients and even then it may not work and you will just have to except that you have a dog who dosn't like loud noises.

Is there anything specific in the dog's past that you know of that may have caused this to begin with?

if so avoid that like the plague.

Here is a post I put up a couple months ago about how to introduce a dog to gunfire you can you the same method here i believe

You usually only get ONE chance to make a dog comfortable around a gunshot. Because once they are scared of it thats a tough knot to untie.So don't rush it.
They may be born not afraid of guns and you can shoot around them anytime ,but thats not a chance I would be willing to take with my dog
That said... This is what you do.

With you holding the dog and loving and praising the heck out of him till his tail about waggs off, have a partner take a small caliber gun like a .22 and got about 50-75 yards away. shoot a couple times... come 10 yards closer... shoot a couple more times... come 10 yards closer, repeatuntil they are standing right next to you. The whole time you are loving the dog up and telling him what a good boy he is... Treats won't hurt either.

Let a day or so pass...
Then if you have a small gaugee shotgun available .410 or 20 gauge repeat the above process.

Let a day or so pass...
Finally repeat again with a 12 gauge.

If at any point the dog shows any sign of fright, STOP and slow down, go back to the smallergun until you are certain he is comfortable,if you sense you should stop for the day DO IT, there is always tomorrow.
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:32 PM
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none of our dogs have ever had "people" food so what we did was is got a jug of vanilla icecream and had her sit and eat it and went and did exatly what the above post said... but we used a 20 th whole time

Last edited by OhioBowhunter; 03-03-2010 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 03-03-2010, 04:29 PM
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The only time you fire a gun around a dog is when the dog is preoccupied with a bird. If the dog is gunshy then it should done at a distance with a starter pistol or 22 and work your way up.( Like Slo-Pitch said) But only fire when the dog is totally focused on the bird when its flushed.

Jimmy S. I guess I read to much into it. My bad. Didn't meen to ruffle any feathers.

Here is another web page from a guy who I know. Him and His wife own a game preserve, Train and breed german shorthairs. This guy trains a many dogs and knows what he is doing.

This subject just bothers me to no end and I have to speak out from our experiences, as well. So many people are ignorant on this subject - that it bears repeating ... 100 times! Please share this info with others to help prevent the gun shy dogs out there ... it is so uncalled for.

We train almost everyday in the fields with dogs, their owners and the birds. Training hundreds of bird dogs each year (all breeds), we can speak from experience, as well, when we say the following:

We believe that you should NEVER shoot any kind of gun, (blank, low loads, etc) around your dogs unless they are ON BIRDS! The most common mistake that we see with timid or gun shy dogs is that the owners have tried to introduce the NOISE and GUNS before the LIVE BIRDS. You cannot make a successful bird dog without birds ... it is like learning to play football without a football. It takes many times longer to fix a dog - once you have introduced guns too early or without birds. Mistakenly, people think that GUN BREAKING a dog means just introducing SOUND. That is only half of the formula ... we also believe that does not mean to a very young dog (under 6 months) and NEVER without birds!!

We believe that you need to introduce birds and guns in the following order:
Birds ONLY until 6 months of age while building on skills in short and fun daily lessons
Once BIRDY (very excited about the birds) at 6 months - start gun breaking while on birds ONLY
BLANKS - while on the live birds and if no negative reactions
LOW LOADS from a distance ... then closer while on the live birds
20 gauge from a distance ... then closer while on the live birds
Gradually building on skills with successful ONE-GUN hunts to increase field experiences
Multiple bird hunts with larger gauge guns are not until the confidence and experience are there
We don't use ROOSTERS until later - a bad experience with a feisty rooster spur can ruin a dog

The sure fire way to make a gun shy dog is to introduce LOUD NOISES before they are BIRDY and FOCUSED on the birds. We see this all the time! We get dozens of emails every day from dog owners and you would not believe how many people tell us they took their dogs to the GUN RANGE to break their dogs or fired a 12 gauge (YIKES!!) We have heard so many terrible stories and seen firsthand the results of improperly gun broke dogs. If you used some of these methods and your dog is okay .. you are very lucky - but I would not recommend trying it again - it is NOT worth the risk of ruining your dog. People think wrongly that it is the SOUND to break the dog - it is the BIRDS that make them so excited and focused that they do not hear the sounds!

SLOWER IS BETTER: Over the years, we have seen people bring a young dog out on our Gamebird Preserve and do a multiple 4 Gun Hunt - saying that their young dog is READY - (in their opinion gun broke - enough). Unfortunately, more than once, we have witnessed THAT ONE HUNT ruin an otherwise good dog because they had multiple 12 gauges and the young dog did not have the necessary confidence and experience in the field for that type of hunt. It is a very sad thing to watch, but sometimes no matter what you say, people have to learn from their own mistakes because they do not like to take the advice of others - they are offended that you questioned them or tried to offer some friendly and expereinced pointers. It is very sad to watch, but we have seen inexperienced young dogs come shaking, cowering and wanting to get back in the car after that terrifying first hunt with TOO MANY GUNS - not even wanting to go back in the field for the second half of the hunt. Those dogs will most likely never be good dogs because their owner does not have the patience to make a good bird dog. SLOWER is ALWAYS BETTER. You will have many years to enjoy your dog - take the time to do it right.

Whether hunting or training, anytime we see dogs that have negative reactions to the gun, it is usually from owners who have tried TOO MUCH - TOO SOON. All it takes is one time too much to ruin a good dog. You need to go slow and build with all positive experiences. We firmly believe that it does NO GOOD TO INTRODUCE THE GUN BEFORE 6 MONTHS OF AGE - you have many other things to be working on with them beforehand anyway ... breaking them in to the gun will go quickly and smoothly at 6 months if you have spent the time on your preliminary work beforehand. Dogs trained properly with the above methods are typically hunting by 7 months of age and are not gun shy. We still recommend limiting the number of guns and gauges of guns - increasing slowly with each field experience. Each positive experience builds on the others and the confidence will come naturally, with a little time, patience and of course, birds ...

Happy Hunting!


Vicki Murdock

ColonialFarms, LLC
Gamebird Preserve
German Shorthaired Pointers
Field Dog Training
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Old 03-03-2010, 05:20 PM
Fork Horn
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start with small calibur (22) and move up slowly day by day with bigger guns. hold the pup so it feels safe.

another way,lol. we used to have an old ford that had a little back fire so after milking we would go out and check fields with the dog riding with us. all the while that ol truck popin and crackin. she was good after a couple rides....
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Old 03-04-2010, 09:25 PM
Fork Horn
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Originally Posted by roo3006 View Post
The only time you fire a gun around a dog is when the dog is preoccupied with a bird.
I guess that kind of rules out taking a dog duck hunting, huh? Or ruffed grouse hunting, somewhat.

And no more taking my spaniel out pheasant hunting with a group of guys working a half-way decent sized grassfield.

I hate absolutes.
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