Author Topic: Gun shy dog  (Read 6302 times)

roydowd

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Gun shy dog
« on: December 11, 2007, 09:11:54 AM »
Ok Guys, I need help.

I have a two year old Chessie who is gun shy. I am not a professional trainer by any means, and I wish I could be writing here to brag about my dog and how fantastic he is. The truth is he is a fantastic retriever, until the gun goes off. When I got him as a pup I am sure it was the 4th of July fireworks that ruined him, he was only about 6-months old at the time, and his obvious fear was the start of my headaches.

The crazy thing is that I can use a dummy launcher with heavy loads right next to his head, and he doesn't even notice it. I mean 30-retrieves in a row, and he performs beautifully, sits steady like a rock until I tell him to go. Can do multiple retrieves, follows hand signals moderately well. But overall he gets the job done and I enjoy watching him because he is crazy to retrieve - barks his head off if I pause for more than a few seconds to tell me "come on man, what are you waiting for!?"

His temperament is gentle and a bit soft, not like the typical Chessie I read about. Very gentle and quite, but with an intelligence that he just radiates out to you with his eye contact. He is also a freak of nature in that he is over 100-pounds of solid bone and muscle - a plus in my book as he can barrel through the heaviest marsh grass and rough water. I keep thinking if I bring him out enough eventually he will shake the fear off and be overcome by his desire to retrieve, and I am getting tired of soaking myself to the groin in salt water and mud doing my own retrieves, while he tries to crawl into my lap (never mind that I am standing) to get some comfort from his fear of the muzzle blast.

I followed the book by Wolters for his initial training, but as soon as the gun went off 500 yards away, my dog was hiding under the truck. So I skipped the sound conditioning part, and concentrated on everything else, thinking he would outgrow it. In retrospect, a mistake. So, any good advice on how to fix this? I get plenty of opinions, so some advice from someone in the know would be refreshing.

jersey charlie

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Gun shy dog
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2007, 08:34:57 PM »
You might try using a starter pistol.    Get the dog in his favorite situation; say retrieving bumpers or dead waterfowl, on land or on water. Whatever gets him most excited.  Do several of these retrieves using no loud sounds.  Then introduce a duck call with the retrieve, that might excite him more.    The dog needs to be up & happy,  you want to get him into a frenzy.   At this point when the dog is totally focused on the retrieve out comes the starter pistol.  If you can get someone to shoot the pistol say twenty feet in front of you just as the dog is reved and the duck call is sounded then shoot and let him go.   The idea is to let him associate the sound of the gun with fun. 
If the above does not work, don't give up!  Then you need to go back to basics.  Get a clicker and some real good treats, NOT dog biscuits, get some hot dogs, something the dog loves but doesn't get on a regular basis.  Then play with the dog click and treat. Do this say five or six times.  If the dog is ok with click and treat, move on to a louder noise then click and treat.  If a dog is taking food they are not stressed out, so you know as long as he takes the food and the sound is elevated it's working.   Introduce the starter pistol at say one hundred feet from the dog, let the gun go off then click and treat.  Good luck, let us know how you make out.   

Gruntinbuck

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Gun shy dog
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2007, 05:11:28 PM »
Are you busy on Sunday's?????Chris

Walkman

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Gun shy dog
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2008, 07:12:10 PM »
Try training with live birds instead of bumpers , chukkars work well, if he gets the bird up in the air and you can shoot over him it might work if not, and he is a good retriever don't screw around get professional help.

blackdog1

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Gun shy dog
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2008, 09:22:34 PM »
my friends lab same thing 4th july fireworks couple years ago. Great dog, good nose, retrieves well.  He is much better but still not broke completely of it.  We just kept working with him the live bird helped a lot.  The more excited he was the less the shot bothered him.  he's not running for the truck anymore but he's not perfect.  All I can say is don't give up but don't be too aggresive.  GOOD LUCK

fishex99

  • Guest
Re: Gun shy dog
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2011, 09:00:36 PM »
It's interesting. :D