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Gun shy dog? #16498172 10/04/21
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Burleyboy Offline OP
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I have a 20 month old wire haired pointing griffon. Last summer as a pup we shot 22s near her while we were camping and stuff and she was fine. She never seemed bothered at all and during the 4th of July she was just upset because we made her stay in the house.

A few months ago we were camping and one of my kids fired his 22 rascal with her about 50 feet away and she acted shy. I had the kids stop shooting right away. I have since been out in the back yard playing with her dummy bird and having her retrieve it. My 7 year old daughter came out on the back porch and fired her little dollar store cap gun about 100 feet from the dog.. The dog immediately headed in the house and didn't want to play anymore.

We didn't get her out bird hunting much last year because she got terribly car sick as a pup. We tried to take her out but she would puke all over everything and foam at the mouth. She's over that now and likes to go for rides but now gunshyness has set it.

Is there anything I can do to get her past being gunshy. I've heard all kinds of advice much of it opposite of what the last guy said. We are going to take her out on the youth pheasant hunt again tomorrow and see if we can get her on a bird. We took her to the management area on Saturday but the fish and game didn't release the birds they were supposed to so we never saw a bird.

She's a smart dog and strong willed. She's pointed since she was a pup. She stayed with us well on Saturday in the field and didn't get too far out front. She really liked running around. She seemed a little nervous when she saw the shotgun and was in too close at first but she moved out and worked ahead of us. I'm hoping to just get her on some birds and get her really excited about hunting. Then maybe try a shot a ways away from her.

I really hope there's a solution. Our last dog was gushy the whole 10 years we had her. I really want one we can hunt.

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Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16498551 10/04/21
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I’ve heard some posit that gun shyness has an inherited component, hence they don’t/won’t breed a gunshy dog. I personally don’t know where it lies in the whole nature vs nurture spectrum. However, if it were my dog, I would stand beside her and pet her and reassure her and give her treats while the pop gun was fired at a distance. As she becomes more comfortable, move in closer. If she seems fine with this, I would start over and repeat with something a little louder like a .22. Eventually, move up to a shotgun at a distance and then closer. The treats, petting, reassurance are used to create a positive association with the noise or at least an ignorance of it. Maybe some retrieves as she becomes more comfortable while firing at a distance. Others may have a different approach. Good luck! I hope you can work through it as some dogs never seem to get past it.

Last edited by Chocolatepossum; 10/04/21.
Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16498675 10/04/21
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We have 4 SM's - none are gun shy. When you're hammering a nail, they will try to stick their nose right where you are striking. When you shoot a gun they get excited and run to where you last aimed. If you miss, they look at you like...um...don't miss.

Hell, just opening the gun safe or showing them a collar gets them so excited that you better do something with them.

But...one hates the vacuum cleaner and will run in the other room when it's on. And one hates the lawn mower and runs inside when it's running. They all love the 4 wheeler and dive on the seat like saddle bags when it's on, same with tractor, and rtv. If you say 'truck' they run around them until a door is open to get inside. One hated the truck when we first got her so I just fed her in the truck while she was a pup and now she is the worst one...once she gets in...she refuses to get out unless she goes on a ride...and around the block doesn't cut it anymore. So we make short trips to ACE.

Anyways, I noticed the breeders would clang their dishes together when they were getting ready to be fed as pups and get them riled up and clap their hands. So' I'd try that. Also to me, a 22 has a hypersonic crack that is different from a shotgun...so I'd probably just get her all birdy and use some hulls with only a primer in them for initial exposure.

Or, probably the best thing to do would be to find a navhda chapter near you and go to some of their training events. They have people who can work with you and see the dog and give great advice.

Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16502543 10/06/21
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All while giving his food; I started with clapping hands, then to banging pot lids, then to cap guns at a distance moving closer has he showed not ill signs. Now the sound of a gun sends him into instant search mode! Almost a hazard with just plinking and he's around. laugh

Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16505559 10/07/21
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I'd be interested to hear how she does on the hunt.

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Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16506865 10/07/21
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All the above info is good to prevent gunshyness but you already have the problem, if it were me I would get some pigeons , tether them them with about 20 ' string, cord, whatever.,tied to a plastic bottle so it won't fly very far. let the dog point the pigeon , probably on a check cord to start with, flush the pigeon while he is chasing the pigeon fire a cap buster or 22 . if he shows shyness pay him no mind keep his interest on the bird.He must associate the noise with something good, he is interested in. This works very well but should have been started at first hint of the problem. I have seen very few older dogs cured from this problem sorry to say but good luck. Hope this helps.

Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16507501 10/07/21
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It may be too late.

Loud bangs during feeding, long walks at the gun club are all things I do early on.

Having said that, I've never had a driven dog that gave a phrack about a gun. It only excited them for their job.

Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: gunscrew] #16507680 10/07/21
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Originally Posted by gunscrew
All the above info is good to prevent gunshyness but you already have the problem, if it were me I would get some pigeons , tether them them with about 20 ' string, cord, whatever.,tied to a plastic bottle so it won't fly very far. let the dog point the pigeon , probably on a check cord to start with, flush the pigeon while he is chasing the pigeon fire a cap buster or 22 . if he shows shyness pay him no mind keep his interest on the bird.He must associate the noise with something good, he is interested in. This works very well but should have been started at first hint of the problem. I have seen very few older dogs cured from this problem sorry to say but good luck. Hope this helps.


There is also a social component to gun shyness. My dogs never thought 4th of July was anything other that a party where everybody hunted except them...... until they started living with dogs that were fearful, and now they hide in their kennels on the 4th.

I’ve had a couple of dogs that tended to gunshyness, but they got over it by simply hunting. Get them full on chasing something (doesn’t have to be a bird, whatever they like to chase) and shoot it. If there lots of wing flopping after the sho, even better. If they break off at the shot, run to the bird and enthusiastically pick it up and make a big deal out of it. Work that social component in their psyche where they cue off your emotions. If you’re happy about getting the bird, they’ll be happy about getting the bird.


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Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16509869 10/08/21
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For the first 1.5 years of my current dog's life, everytime the thunder started booming outside, he demanded to go outside.

I'm convinced he though God was hunting without him.

Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16509902 10/08/21
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I’ve been around gun shy dogs my whole life and haven’t seen one get over it. If you like the dog I would keep it as a pet. When I was a kid my grandpa had a gun shy beagle and we used 22’s and when you missed the rabbit the dog would take off for the house and we would go back pet it up real good and lead it back to where we missed the rabbit and it would take back off on the track!! I know a guy that has a good rat terrier squirrel dog and it is so gun shy you have to hold he gun behind your back when your walking up to the tree or it will take off but after you shoot it will get over it and go tree another. Most bird dogs and labs aren’t gun shy.

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Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16511431 10/09/21
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smart female dogs seem to get gun / bang shy easier . 1st let her just see a gun and smell it ,if you have a old beater gun let her sleep around it and be with a gun all the time. then move on with slowly development in her training. always take a rifle or shotgun with if you can when you go for a walk and let the dog sniff the gun , but do not shoot the gun . i wish you great luck,Pete53

Last edited by pete53; 10/10/21.

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Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16511479 10/09/21
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.22 rimfire are sharper than a shotgun report. I would take her to a Skeet field and walk towards the noise from a distance. Some dogs don’t get over it.

Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16512702 10/09/21
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I had a Britt that was starting to show some gun shyness.... a gun would go off and he would go run and hid under the truck.

I stopped letting any loud noises or gun fire near the dog at any time for any reason... just walked the dog 2 miles every day and did some yard training.

Once we got to hunting season... the only time he would hear a gun shot was when he had a snoot full of bird sent... once he is into a bird... nothing else in the world mattered... you can empty the gun at a bird and just gets more excited...

My advice would be to quit trying to condition your dog to gunfire.... your goofing her up... she doesn't need to hear a gunshot until there is a bird in the air. and then... she won't care... because she has a snoot full of bird sent to work.

Last edited by mikieb; 10/09/21. Reason: spelling

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Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: mikieb] #16512874 10/09/21
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Good advice from mikieb. I also had a timid pup that shied away from loud noises.Taking him to a skeet field only made it worse. When hunting season opened I only shot birds that I knew would fall in front of him. After one day of that, he has never had a problem. Five years old now and going strong.

Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16517515 10/11/21
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Sorry to hear it, I have no experience with it. I just have plain old labs who like fireworks on the Fourth of July


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Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16517589 10/11/21
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I’m no dog trainer but had a young Golden Retriever that I tried firing a .22 when he was feeding. But when it got bigger and louder he began to withdraw.

I finally took him to weekly trap shoots one summer, not to shoot, but to sit with him behind the line, and feed him treats whenever he seemed nervous.

In part, because of that I don’t know, but he turned into a gung-ho retrieving beast in the field. I still think of him fondly and somewhat sadly as I had to sell him in his prime when I went back to school.

Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16517591 10/11/21
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There are two components to this.

1) You missed the time to condition your dog to noises. However this can be remedied.

2) put away the .22's, blanks, what have you. Start with yard work involving live birds and dog on check cord. From there take it to the field. As Mikieb said get the dog out on live birds, I personally would be shooting the birds and letting the dog either retrieve if it does, or show the dog the birds in its face. I would keep the dog on a check cord the whole time. When the dog is on point step on the cord, shoot bird. Praise dog every time.


Eat Fish, Wear Grundens, Drink Alaskan.
Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16533729 10/16/21
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Layoff the shooting and birds, birds, birds.....


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Drum roll please....."I don't know, to be clear." Joe Biden, President of the United States!
Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16537335 10/17/21
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Associate guns with fun is what has worked for me with gun shy dogs.


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Re: Gun shy dog? [Re: Burleyboy] #16539384 10/18/21
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Go to Skyline Gun Club to shoot some skeet or trap. Put the dog in airline crate in the back of your truck where it can't see but can hear the shooting. Later you can move the crate closer to the shooting still not seeing the shooting going on. This has always worked for me with pups and young dogs.


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