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Hunting >> Hunting dogs

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.700 member

Reged: 25/12/02
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Loc: Barossa Valley, South Australi...
Gun shy dogs
      #379234 - 09/09/23 10:23 PM

How do you lessen issues with gun shy dogs?

My GSP was a bit nervous when I was shooting a .22 RF. A bit pesky but not too much.

But gets very worked up during a thunderstorm. And during close fireworks. Now even gets worked up at fireworks faintly heard from many kilometres away. He's inside and often we can't hear them at all. But he starts whining and walking around nervously. And it's always at the time when fireworks are planned nightly this week. Every night for the last nine of so days.

He has extremely good hearing. From the city house knows when people are in the park next door even in the middle of the night. When we hear nothing.

My previous two GSPs, not a problem. And my fox terrier mutt before them, no problemd. Loved guns. Guns meant rabbits, birds, fun. My father's sheepdogs were all gun shy.

Any tips of what to do or not to do?

I've had some health issues so haven't done as much shooting in recent months, at home at least, where the dog was present. Now have another unexpected problem to solve.

A party nearby a couple of months ago, had fireworks going off right over our houses, launched from a private residence. He went a little nuts from that. Probably started the anxie.


My ideas are:
* Associate the smells of gun oil and burned powder with good things, treats, food, etc. Maybe put a used shotgun shell near his bed. Familiarity.
* Shoot off a quieter gun, bang etc in the near distance, while someone sits and treats the dog. Bangs associated with good things. Come closer as he hopefully shows less distress.
* Rabbits and guns. Association.
* Deer and guns. Association.

A question, comforting a dog showing anxiety from eg distant fireworks, is this good or bad? Does it reward the anxiety?

I'll ask gun dog experts, find my training books etc to research as well. But thought I'd ask here first.

John aka NitroX

Govt get out of our lives NOW!
"I love the smell of cordite in the morning."
"A Sharp spear needs no polish"

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.300 member

Reged: 17/04/08
Posts: 242
Loc: Illinois
Re: Gun shy dogs [Re: NitroX]
      #379890 - 08/10/23 12:13 AM

I too have a gun-shy dog, a little beagle, 3 years old. He acts just as you describe. He also is very cautious about his surroundings. If anything is out of place, he sees it and very cautiously approaches it or avoids it all together. I carried a large rolled up rug into the house yesterday and he ran to the next room. I put it on the floor, still rolled and he would peek at it from the doorway but wouldn't enter the room until I unrolled it. I have to set with him on my lap every fourth of July and new year's while he quivers from fright! I hope you figure something out!. LK

Edited by Longknife (08/10/23 12:23 AM)

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.700 member

Reged: 10/08/05
Posts: 25944
Loc: Beautiful British Columbia, Ca...
Re: Gun shy dogs [Re: Longknife]
      #379891 - 08/10/23 02:47 AM

The thought of talking to gun dog experts is a good one John.
I have nothing else to suggest.
I grew up with a German Shepherd who was gun shy, thunder shy, frightened from fireworks, but loved "hunting" English sparrows and chickadees with me even though I used a pellet gun. I'm assuming it was sharp noises that frightened her.


"a gun without hammers is like a Spaniel without ears" King George V

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Reged: 24/01/09
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Loc: Nelson, New Zealand
Re: Gun shy dogs [Re: DarylS]
      #379895 - 08/10/23 09:03 AM

Both my curly coated retriever pup and golden retriever who was 9mths old when I got him from the breeder were noise shy. The golden was especially sensitive hiding away when I was just using a hammer to modify his kennel. I had the dogs at separate intervals but took them out in the hunting areas with a 22RF firing shots around them while they were swimming or hunting around. Shot a few rabbits with them and didn't take long for them to associate shots with game and from there progressed to a shotgun on rabbits and same thing, they focused on the kills and not the noise. Both became outstanding duck and gamebird dogs and also became proficient on deer and chamois hunting.
They became immune to noise from guns, fireworks, vehicles, thunder, etc., only reacting to thunder or bangs from nail guns etc., as to hey where is the dead animal.

The springer spaniel I have now, right from the just weaned pup when I got her, has never shown any reaction to loud noise and right from the get go has just focused on finding and retrieving game. She was only a 'toddler' when my sons, partners, grandkids and I had an informal range shoot using 22RF's, shotguns and my 404 Jeffery and she just waddled around taking no notice at all of the shooting.

With your GSP I would just persist with shooting around him but try and shoot some game with the 22RF so he will associate bang noise with dead, or better wounded, game that he can find and hold.

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Re: Gun shy dogs [Re: eagle27]
      #379898 - 08/10/23 02:47 PM

Good suggestion. I was at a loss.


"a gun without hammers is like a Spaniel without ears" King George V

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