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gun shy

gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:50 am

has anyone ever heard of a dog just becoming gun shy? my 1 y/o gsp is at the trainer right now. up until now she has had no problem being around gun fire. i have witnessed first hand, and fired the gun around her while she was training and she never batted an eye. no all of a sudden, when he racks a shell into the chamber she will bolt? i know this is a bad situation, but does anyone have any advice, tips or suggestions, how to fix this?
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Re: gun shy

Postby gar-dog » Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:37 am

What about if you rack a shell... is it the same? I wonder if the trainer is putting too much pressure on her and she has made that association. I'd give it a rest a little while and then start over with simple gun intro.
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Re: gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:58 am

well, at first while she was distracted with something fun, he would shoot some blanks, and she paid it no attention didnt even bat an eye. then progressed to launching birds, and firing over her, the same. she never blinked. but all of a sudden the other day, i was sitting on a bucket, fixing to launch a bird and fire. i racked a shell into chamber, and she bolted like she was scared. we are both baffled. he said the same thing though. she has been trainging for 3 months straight. he suggested bring her home for a month and give her a break, and try again. he also said maybe its something about that gun. its a throwdown pump 12 ga,he uses the same one every time. maybe she associates that with these past 3 months and is worn out. im just worried. ive put alot of time and money into her, to have this happen
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Re: gun shy

Postby Greg Jennings » Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:17 am

Is it just on the sound of the pump gun operating or is it the shot as well?
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Re: gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:02 am

at first none of it bothered her, the loading or the shot. but now it was just the loading that spooked her. after she got spooked we stopped and didnt fire
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Re: gun shy

Postby Greg Jennings » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:03 am

Well, for one thing, I'd make sure I didn't rack that pump gun around the dog. It might not help, but it sure won't hurt.
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Re: gun shy

Postby Sharon » Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:31 am

I'm sorry but i don't think you're getting the whole story. That doesn't happen to a gun conditioned dog for no reason. I'd bet someone has shot too close to her head unexpectedly. jmo
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Re: gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:12 am

i kind of thought that too. but when she was a pup, and there was a loud noise when she wasnt paying attention, she would startle. is this an unfixable problem?
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Re: gun shy

Postby Sharon » Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:27 am

I don't think it goes back to when she was a pup because she's had all these months with no problem. From what I read , sometimes it's fixable and sometimes it isn't. I'd be really broken up if i were you because as you said you've put a lot of money and time into this dog and now you've got this unneeded problem. You'll get better advice from the Pros on here but I think you have to find an expert in this problem and put out more money.( Don't use the same trainer. jmo )
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Re: gun shy

Postby ezzy333 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:31 am

If the dog still has prey drive it normally can be fixed fairly easy. The ones that are questionable are the ones that are bird shy as well.

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Re: gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:00 pm

whats a good way to go about finding someone who specializes in this in my area? between training and her, i have 2k easily invested. so if she cant overcome this, im gonna be devistated.
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Re: gun shy

Postby mudhunter » Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:19 pm

Follow the trainers advice, Give the dog a break for a while! Maybe something happen your not hearing about or maybe the dog just decided she had enough pressure and this is how she's showing it. Either way a break will give her brain time to rest and hopefully reset. I know what its like to think a dog is ruined but they often just need alittle rest and will come back around as long as nobody really messes with them and makes it worse.
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Re: gun shy

Postby Saltriver » Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:50 pm

I think something specific had to have happened to cause this. it may or may ot be the shot, but definatly something in that situation has her spooked. I would certianly give her a rest from any pressure or real mechanical type training but i would continue to take her to the field and let her have whatever kind of fun that she can. just because a dog has been successfully shot over a few times, even if there was a lot of effort leading up to that, does not mean that something can't happen to make her gunshy. If, like someone here mentioned she still has a lot of prey drive, it is very likely fixable but it will take some time and patience. I would not give up though, just start over and take your time. Don't focus on getting her "used" to the gun, focus instead on making the gun be representitive of a positive event.
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Re: gun shy

Postby ezzy333 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:06 pm

evantraylor wrote:whats a good way to go about finding someone who specializes in this in my area? between training and her, i have 2k easily invested. so if she cant overcome this, im gonna be devistated.



Where do you live?

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Re: gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:29 pm

im in conroe tx, which is about 30 minutes north of houston. well i was planning on giving her a month break from training. other than just taking her out and letting her run, and basic stuff like here, heel, sit. im not really worried about it being anything intentional on the trainers part. he is a awesome guy. a guy i work with at the fire station, has known him for a long time, and highly reccomended him. im hoping its just pressure, and her wanting a break.
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Re: gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:30 pm

im just bummed because im leaving to go on a big hunt friday, and was really looking foward to having her go on her first hunt.
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Re: gun shy

Postby Saltriver » Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:48 pm

sent you a pm
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Re: gun shy

Postby birddogger » Tue Sep 22, 2009 2:18 pm

Unless there is something the trainer is not telling you, it sounds to me that the dog has had too much pressure for too long and is associating the action of the gun with unpleasant routines.

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Re: gun shy

Postby gar-dog » Tue Sep 22, 2009 2:57 pm

birddogger wrote:Unless there is something the trainer is not telling you, it sounds to me that the dog has had too much pressure for too long and is associating the action of the gun with unpleasant routines.

Charlie


+1. Also, use or borrow an o/u next time too - nothing that racks.

But I think something happened.
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Re: gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:09 pm

any ideas on what could have happened?
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Re: gun shy

Postby Sharon » Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:17 pm

Definately not saying it was intentional on the trainer's part. Even a good trainer can make a careless mistake. I would bet the gun was shot too close to her head during some exercise by the trainer or someone else in the field.
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Re: gun shy

Postby slistoe » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:50 pm

The first thing I would do is to find out if the dog is gun shy. What point in the training is she? Have you been working on steadying her? Have you been working/shooting a lot of birds? When was the gun being racked? I think that perhaps the dog has been having too much pressure and the pressure has been immediately following the racking of the gun causing the dog to have an averse reaction anticipating a bad result to hearing the sound. Work the dog with an already loaded gun and see if you get any reaction to the sequence of events. See if something else that you do that would normally occur just after the racking of the gun will trigger an averse reaction, up to and including the actual firing of the gun. Keep a CC on the dog to control any bolting that may occur. If indeed it is a reaction to the training sequence then for sure give the dog a rest, then change up the training program. If it is the training sequence/conditions then taking her hunting should not give the dog a problem - as long as you eliminate the sound of the gun trigger (borrow a gun if yours is the same).

Anyway, short answer, hope it makes some sense.
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Re: gun shy

Postby bobman » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:01 pm

evantraylor wrote:im just bummed because im leaving to go on a big hunt friday, and was really looking foward to having her go on her first hunt.


What kind of hunt are you talking about?
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Re: gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:36 pm

dove hunt
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Re: gun shy

Postby Sharon » Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:09 pm

I think Slistoe would modify his advice if he knew that. Lots of fast firing and reloading at a dove hunt. Shots coming from all around. I wouldn't take your dog but jmo
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Re: gun shy

Postby birddogger » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:05 pm

Sharon wrote:I think Slistoe would modify his advice if he knew that. Lots of fast firing and reloading at a dove hunt. Shots coming from all around. I wouldn't take your dog but jmo

Ditto!

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Re: gun shy

Postby birddogger » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:09 pm

I would get the dog on some birds and fire the gun, but not on a dove hunt. I have a feeling the dog is not gunshy. JMO.

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Re: gun shy

Postby bobman » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:13 pm

Thats why I asked IMO theres nothing worse than a dove hunt and a noise sensitive dog I dont even bring my broke dogs to them...ever


You need to take this dog up to the dakotas and let it point pheasants for a few days with just you and you alone shootin birds for it when they flush ( one shot per bird) and shes keyed on the flushing bird hopefully drop a few as shes chasing

????releasing birds by launching them over her and shooting them (I migh be missing something in your description) but that sounds pretty strange to me

if I have that right you need to find someone else to work your dog

edit: yep I read it again you are sitting on a bucket launching birds and shooting them over this dog????? thats about the worst way I can think of to intro a young shorthair to birds or shooting

Get some help your dog should work up to birds on its own, then point them (with a high degree of prey drive exciting the dog), then when the bird flushes and the dog is really really excited about that bird you kill it ONE SHOT ONLY no bang bang bang

You keep doing what your doing and this dog will end up gun shy

I've worked with a lot of gunshy dogs over the last 40 years what your doing is not going to end well
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Re: gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:55 pm

thanks for everyones advice, it is much appreciated. this is my first bird dog. in all honesty i didnt do as much homework on my breed i guess. i mostly hunt dove and duck. ive never hunted quail or pheasant, until this coming season, will be my first. so he's been working her on retrieving, going out and picking up the birds, more than pointing and flushing, because this is what i do more than often. this was a mistake on my part, but i didnt know it at the time. i know it goes against her instincts as a pointer. she wants to be out roaming and pointing, and im holding her back. im frustrated with my situation, and dont really know where to go with her from here. as of now, she hasnt been hunted over in an actual hunt. shes never been fired over mulitple times. all blank rounds, all single indivdual shots. mostly shes just been doing basics, obediance, and learning to retrieve to hand.
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Re: gun shy

Postby Sharon » Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:18 pm

We all made LOTS of mistakes with our first dogs and still are probably. Don't get discouraged. Your dog is still very young as dogs go. There will be many years of hunts. You can solve this problem. :)

Get her out this fall for wild birds. Don't even shoot. Let her enjoy herself and work on her pointing skills. You do have wild bird in Texas don't you? :)
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Re: gun shy

Postby bobman » Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:30 pm

Evan dont despair we were all where you are at one point in time you lucky the internet exists many of us didn't have that source

let me try to clear up what has to happen

where you are now the dog is fearful maybe it was exposed to some muzzle blast and now associates that unpleasant experience with the gun being racked.

(I used to make all my friends and people I trained for stand without ear plugs behind a oak tree in my yard and I would back off about 5 yards and give them a couple blasts with my 12 ga there no quicker way to teach someone what their dog is going to be exposed to than to experience it first hand, its brutal.)

However back to your dog Why doesn't really matter, we need to go forward.

First you need to understand what the dog understands and right now that is that the gun is something unpleasant, confusing and followed by a noise thats down right scary. You have to change that image in this dogs mind

The best way is to use the dogs natural impulses and desires to help you accomplish this

A shorthair while they will retrieve, does not live to retrieve like a lab or my boykin ( he would retrieve until he dropped dead if you let him) a shorthair lives to find game and point it their prey drive is all focused on the hunt part of the sequence.

In this dogs mind you have to make the dog believe that a gunshot means it will get a bird in its mouth.

This dog needs to be put in a sequence where its find game scent- follows it up until its so close its instinct MAKES IT POINT with every fiber of its body riveted on the bird scent and very excited- bird is flushed within the dogs view ( in the case of this dog I would encourage or atleast allow chasing)- and as its chasing the SCARY gunshot occurs but instantly the bird its chasing falls in front of it and the excitement and prey drive of the dog causes it to over come its fear ignore the gun shot and grab the bird.

scent-follow-point-flush-chase-bang-grab the bird

before you go back to the gun you need to spend some time each day with this sequence up to chase (NO SHOT NO GRAB) until the dog is enthusiastically doing that, once you get to that point and not before the gun comes back in

the only way to this is with birds with a pointer- it can be done with retireving dummies with a retriever because their prey drive is related to the retrieve- but not with a noise shy pointer

Understand once the dog is thoroughly convinced in its mind a gunshot means a bird then you can move back to retrieving work with this dog. Although I would not do much and I would use live birds GSPs dont drill well like labs

There are some good trainers of GSPs in Texas that could turn this dog around pretty quick and save it but its going to take birds and some know how.

I think some of the people like Snips here in GA would also be an excellent choice among others . you need a GSP trainer at this point not a retriever trainer.
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Re: gun shy

Postby Sharon » Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:39 pm

EXCELLENT post. :)
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Re: gun shy

Postby birddogger » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:12 pm

I don't think it could be said any better than that!

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Re: gun shy

Postby evantraylor » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:36 pm

so my next question. i joined a bird lease. say i just take her out, let her find birds. no shooting. she's never really done any formal training on pointing or whoa. i worked her a little while she was young, with a wing on a fishing pole. how should i go about this. is this something that will come natural to her. when she sniffs the bird out, and flushes, and the bird flies, will she just chase it? ive taught her stay and she knows it well, is this something i could use?
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Re: gun shy

Postby Sharon » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:48 pm

You'll get different opinions on this. Some trainers never allow chasing.
I let my pups ( even though yours is one, it is a beginner at pointing), chase hard flying pigeons ( launcher). Unfortunately I don't have close contact to wild birds. They learn they can't catch them and will begin to creep and eventually point. I want them to learn this lesson without me. Once they indicate by pointing that they want to be broke I use the CC and chasing is over. It isn't you telling the dog to stay. It's the dog wanting to stay so the bird doesn't flush. It's the difference between letting the dog learn and you running the show. You told me you had wild birds. You're very lucky. Let that GSP at 'em. :)

Start connecting whoa to your taught command "stay".
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Re: gun shy

Postby slistoe » Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:32 pm

Sharon wrote:I think Slistoe would modify his advice if he knew that.


Thanks guys. We don't have dove shoots up here so I tend to not think of such. Not a good idea.

Given this dogs history I would think the "no chase" option of training would be out. Follow bobman's advice.
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Re: gun shy

Postby bobman » Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:50 am

evantraylor wrote:so my next question. i joined a bird lease. say i just take her out, let her find birds. no shooting. she's never really done any formal training on pointing or whoa. i worked her a little while she was young, with a wing on a fishing pole. how should i go about this. is this something that will come natural to her. when she sniffs the bird out, and flushes, and the bird flies, will she just chase it? ive taught her stay and she knows it well, is this something i could use?


yes this would be good for this dog , you dont train a dog to point its purely instinct you have to give the dog enough experience with birds to allow the instinct to surface

If these are wild birds yes let her chase them because this dog is nervous and you want to erase the bad and let her prey drive build

eventually she will figure out she can't catch them (anytime you can set a dog up to decide something IS without training that is a good thing because then you never have to re-enforce it later because the dog believes it)

once the dog is pointing reliably then you start going to the pointed bird and flushing it if she chases let her you can fix that later if you want but now you have bigger problems

after shes pointing and excited about birds then you can kill them for her like I described in the previous post

use a cylinder choke and one shell in the gun lots of excited praise even if you miss

forget dove hunting with this dog until its had alot of experience hunting in the normal GSP manner....she points - you flush - you shoot - she gets bird
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