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Gun Training for my Lab

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 Posted 10/13/2013 6:40:16 PM

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Last Login: 10/15/2013 1:55:49 PM
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Hey Guys
I know there is probably many threads about this topic, but my lab recently turned 6 months old and is pushing 73 pounds so its seeming to be time to get him comfortable with gun fire. I've heard many universal ways of getting labs used to associating gun fire with retrieving, but I don't want to make him gun shy either. 

I'm pretty new to this forum, so any advice would be greatly appreciated
Post #774273
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 Posted 10/14/2013 4:07:32 PM

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At around 6 months is when I started to train my GSP puppy.  Here is what I did..

I had my wife put our puppy on a lead and walk about 150 yards away. 

I then took my shotgun and fired 3 rounds.  My wife would tell me how my puppy handle the gunfire and would move the puppy up 25 yards, if she was scared we moved back 15/25 yards. I repeated this process till my puppy was sitting next to me.  I did this process three times to be on the safe side.

I then played fetch with my puppy in the woods/fields, only when I threw the bumper up I also fired a shot or two.  This worked great.  My only issue was after she got use to guns, I stopped shooting around her and by the end of the summer she was startled by gunfire.  However, she overcomed that rapidly.  If your dog is startled by gunfire, take the puppy out with an experience gundog.  Puppies learn from other dogs and if your pup sees the adult gundog isn't scared (s)he will probably be fine as well.  Good luck!
Post #774291
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 Posted 10/16/2013 10:04:42 AM

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I had my dog sit, roughly 100 yards away. I would throw a bumper and fire a blank 22lr. Slowly (over the course of a couple of weeks), I got closer and closer, to the point where I was next to him. I then began the whole process over with shotgun blanks. I followed Tom Dokken's meathod from his book. It worked a little too well actually. During the first part of dove season, my dog would start looking around (with his head, still sitting still) frantically for a bird whenever he heard anyone shoot, regardless of where they where. He now associates the noise with a bird in the area, so he has no bad reflexes to it at all.

Best advice, don't rush it. You can incorporate other training into these routines, and get multiple things acomplished.


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Post #774332
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 Posted 1/6/2014 7:08:03 AM

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I have a 4 month old GSP.  She is doing well with obedience training and has a very strong prey drive.  I am going to gun training with her this weekend.  I am going to take her to our skeet and trap club and simply play with her, while other folks are shooting.  We will eventually move closer, until we are sitting on one of the benches in a skeet field.  Once she is ok with gunfire, I will begin adding a bumper after a shot.

Post #775328
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 Posted 1/16/2014 1:21:29 PM

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Quite some time since I've stopped in and I can see why.

Dog are not born Gun Shy, they are MADE Gun Shy by the uniformed.

Search for posts by kghops concerning the topic.  He doesn't come in here any more but his posts are solid advice.

Don't take the dog to the gun range and start playing with it and work your way closer, bad idea.  There is a much higher percentage of dogs started out this way that become gun shy than dogs started with a gentler approach.  Yes, that method has worked in the past and it will work in the future but why make it harder than it needs to be?

I suggest starting out with a shackled pigeon at 150 yds with a 410 popper and working your way closer.  Once comfortable with the 410, repeat with 12 ga poppers, and finally with live loads.  The shackled bird adds tons of excitement to the retrieve.  The retrieve part is conditioning the dog that the gun is good.  Gun goes off and they get a retrieve.  Otherwise, all your building is a tolerance.  I like building for desire.

I'm outta here again so naysayers can flame.  Good Luck and Happy Training!
Post #775408
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 Posted 1/18/2014 10:37:52 AM

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Last Login: 10/28/2014 11:37:40 PM
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I was taught to start this at home. When you feed the dog (at it's regular time and place) stand a ways off from the dog and introduce some loud sounds to it. At first, just clap your hands together hard. Do that a few days. Then up the sound, perhaps banging boards together. This is to have the dog equate loud sounds with something good. Next thing I did was use a starter gun outside while throwing dummies. After this is done and the dog is comfortable with "loudish" sounds, you can take it to the training area and introduce real gunfire using any of the above techniques.

Worked well for me!! (and my dogs)! Ha!
Post #775419
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 Posted 3/12/2014 7:27:27 PM

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As listed above, starting from far and working closer is a great way to do it. (So I've been told) as for me, I got a plastic wiffle ball and bat and hit balls to my lab. She related hearing a "BANG" sound to fetching the ball which is is the funnest thing in the world to her. I started doing that when she was 4 months old. After a while, I added a plastic toy cap gun into throwing bumpers. She never even heard the cap gun go off because she was so focused on the bumper. The next step was a big one because it was a 20 gauge about 25 yards away. When my friend shot the gun off, she looked at him but then snapped her head back to mark the bumper. Now she loves hearing that boom, boom, boom. 

It all depends on the personality of the dog. My dog isn't timid at all. Maybe I got lucky but I know when she hears a gun go off, she's beyond excited because she relates it to play. Even if you start from far and work your way in, make sure it's a comfortable, happy, and playful environment for the dog. I hope this helps!
Post #775755
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