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JHays1

Gun Dog Training

17 posts in this topic

I have a few questions on training my lab specifically on retrieval of birds and gunfire.

I have a 8 month old black lab. I have had her around gunfire at the trap range and out in a field a few times. She has done ok so far, but that is a different thing then gunfire right over your head out in the blind. I also have never had her retrieve dead or live birds but have used feathers strapped to a dummy.

Anyone have any suggestions in methods of breaking your dog into close gunfire? Anyone know of any where I could get birds live or dead preferrably ducks? Anyone know of any training classes groups that focus on things like close gunfire (similar to what is experienced in a blind) and retriever live/dead birds?

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I used live birds and kept getting the gun closer as we went along. When we got to the point where I could shoot a .22 over him we moved the gun away and started with a small bore shotgun and so on. When my dog now hears a loud noise like a gun or thunder, he assumes that there is a bird to go and find (he wants to play fetch in the rain). When your dog is nuts about finding birds after you have shot he won't here the gun. I also wouldn't worry about keeping him steady at first just get him so you can shoot directly over him if he breaks because he is excited about a bird he won't hear anything go bang.

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Next month I'm taking my lab pup to Cannon River Kennels west of Cannon Falls for just what you're asking about...intro to live birds and gun fire. The way they explained it to me, they take several pups and and one at a time they go after a frozen pigeon, then work their way up to live pheasants. Now that they're crazy about live birds, they start introducing gunfire, starting with a starter pistol and working up to a 12 gauge. The idea is exactly as rattlereel says, first get them crazy about live birds, then get them to associate gunfire with getting live birds.

It's a two week program and costs $400, including birds. When choosing a trainer for this, I checked out Jason at Cannon River Kennels and Brian at West Country Kennels. I was equally impressed with both places and had a hard time deciding which way to go. I ended up going with CRK because they were closer and because of their location, we'd probably use their boarding service eventually anyway. You wouldn't go wrong with either place if you chose to go that route. I found out they used to work together when they worked at Dokken's years back.

Both places brought out frozen pigeons for us to see my pup's reaction. Brian also brought out a live pigeon and it was a blast seeing my then 3 month old pup chase after that.

I've heard Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club will sell live pigeons. I need to check that out pretty soon to get Kody some live bird experience before he goes to school.

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i have a 5 month old springer spaniel and i am goin to hunt pheasant with her but not too sure HOW to get her use to Gun fire?? any ideas guys??

thanks!!

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If your Dog doesn't react to a .22 then bump it up at a distance with a shot gun. Im not sure if you can do this or not but I invited some buddies over and they shot clays while my dog was leashed to a tree some 200 or so ft away. They shot and I sat with my dog. When I seen he wasn't scared of the shooting I brought him in a little closer to the shooting giving him a treat and talking him up. soon he was right in the action and having a blast when I would throw a dummy for him after a shot(Making sure everyone is on the same page as not to shoot until he brought the dummy back and was talked up).Keep him at heal and on a leash while the guys are shooting. This worked well for me and it sounds like it might work for you as well. Just make sure you pay attention to your dog and if it gets unconftrouble for him stop and play with him. Throw a few dummys and put him back in the kennel or house. Keep shooting at a distance and working him in. He'll get used to it. It sounds like he's not scared of shooting at a distance so he's not gun shy for sure. Brake him in slow and easy and make it fun for him.

To answer your 2nd question try to find a game farm in your area. A lot a times this time of year they have birds left over that they might be willing to sell you at a discount due to the end of the season. It really doesn't matter if you get a phesant, grouse, or duck. Its the feel of feathers in there mouth that they dislike not the sent.

Oh and I forgot to mention that this method is free for the most part and fun!!!! grin

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i will have to see how much time i have this up coming weekend to start working on "Gun" training the pup. like said above i will start out with a .22 and keep on moving up

any other adive?

thanks guys!

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My puppy was around a lot of distance gun fire for quite awhile, while I worked on him quartering, etc. After he was really birdy and retrieving consistentliy - we started with a gun at about 30-40 yds or so - pointed away from the dog. I would hup my dog, toss a clip wing pigeon out and when the dog just got to it to retrieve it - I would raise my arm and the gunner would shoot. We did that for quite a few sessions, getting closer each time - until we are shooting over her. It worked well for my dog.

Good luck.

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I had a couple of 2x4's and started with those. Clapped them together while he was eating. That never bothered him. So then I started using a good old cap gun. Then I drove out by the local gun club, parked so far away all you could hear was a little pop, and let the dog walk and check out the ditches. He actually wanted to head toward the gunfire. Finally we got some clay pigeons and went out shooting. I started way away from my friends and let the dog decide which way he wanted to walk. He walked toward my friend by the end of the afternoon he was sitting at our feet watching us shoot. This took a while but I wanted to make sure that I never scared or spooked him.

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Lenny7,

How was your experience with CRC training you dog?

Cannon River Kennels is excellent. They don't train the dog to get used to gunfire, they train the dog to LOVE gunfire. They do this by positive association. First they get them crazy about live birds, then they bring in the gunfire so that every time there's gunfire, there's a bird.

When I went to pick him up after his 2 week training, they demonstrated everything they worked on as I stood off in the distance so as not to distract my dog, ending with shooting live pigeons over him that he had flushed. After that they brought Kody over to me and being the first time he realized I was there, he went nuts jumping on me and licking me and generally being mighty excited.

Then, without telling me what he was doing and as the dog is still going nuts about me, the trainer took 10 steps away and fired the shotgun. That dog left me SO fast and was instantly at the trainer's side, looking for a bird to retrieve! THAT was awesome to see!

I would have loved to have done it myself but I don't have the access to the live birds and I couldn't get out to where I could shoot on a daily basis. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Cannon River Kennels.

After the live bird & gun training I took him to a game farm a couple times and using the techniques they described for me, I planted birds one at a time and we worked on quartering until he caught the scent of the bird and then I let him just do his thing until he flushed it and we shot it for him to retrieve.

I was impressed enough that I'm sending my dog back for that in January. 8 weeks of obedience, force fetching and collar conditioning and 2 weeks in June for water work. That will still leave plenty of training for me to work on with him.

About 3 or 4 weeks after training I took him out to South Dakota for few days of hunting. Other than a bad run-in with barbed wire that required 11 stitches, Kody exceeded my expectations. He stayed under my control, even on fly-aways, retrieved everything he saw fall, and kept up with us all for days. He had a BLAST! Even the guys I hunted with were impressed with how well he did.

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I'd suggest calling Cannon River Kennels and set up an appointment just to check out there facility, talk to them, and let them check out your dog. Line up some other places too so something for comparison. I went out to West Country Kennels and I have no doubt that they could also do a great job.

Let us know what you decide. Good luck!

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I used Brian at West Country Kennels for the beginner gun dog training and was real happy. Same results as above. As soon as the gun sounds, he knows what it means.

I am not hardcore and won't be doing any additional professional training, but my dog was definitely huntable after that basic training. And he gets better every time he is in the field.

Unless you know what you are doing, I would recommend the professional training, whomever you choose to go through.

Good Luck!

CJH

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I used Brian at West Country Kennels for the beginner gun dog training and was real happy. Same results as above. As soon as the gun sounds, he knows what it means.

Just as an aside, Brian at West Country & Jason at Cannon River used to work together when they worked for Dokken.

I agree with you about the training. I believe I could stop formal training now and have a very serviceable hunting dog.

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Thanks guys for the info, got me fired up. Approx how much did it cost?

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Cannon River was $400 for the two weeks, including birds. West Country was $450 for the two weeks, including birds. Cannon River mentioned raising rates for 2009. I'm not sure if West Country will or not.

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Gun breaking, I have seen a pile of training tapes and most all say to work it when they are eating. They also use this method with gun shy dogs. Put there ffod dish down and let them start eating. Back off a ways and use a blank pistol, cap gun something of that nature and fire off a round or two she how she reacts. Slowly work you way in before long yo uare right on top of her. Now gun shy dogs, plan on being a ways off before thinking about firing. This is the key, they feel secure around there food work very slowly. In some cases have some one near her to pet here and talk to her as you are firing. VERY slowly work your way to her. This could take a month, it could take a summer depending on what happen to her to make her shy. It is breakable but it will take time.

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