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Have an 11 mo. old black lab who is showing gun shy tendancies while in the duck blind. Doesn't take off on a dead run at the sound of a shot, but doesn't want to return to the blind after retrieving the bird either. When sitting in the blind he looks just miserable, but perks right up when he hits the water on a retrieve. What (if anything) can be done about this.

Thanks for any assistance.

Bart

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First off if your dog is showing tendencies towards gun-shyness, DO NOT hunt him till you work through it. I've taken in some gun-shy dogs and it is a long process to break them of it. If they have been properly introduced to guns the chance of having problems is virtually nil. When the guns start blazing over their heads and they get a good dose of muzzle blast for the first time, it's a wonder more dogs aren't gun shy.

Now to work through it. LOUD noises need to be associated with GOOD things. Start off when feeding him use something to make ONE loud noise. (2 lids from pots, 2 fry pans, a cap gun, etc.) When he starts eating make 1 report with whatever it is you chose to make noise. After 3 nights (if he doesn't mind 1 BANG) make 2 noises, after 6 nights make 3 noises,etc. Do this for 1-3weeks. Then start out in a field have a friend stand 20-30 yards away and throw a frozen bird up and shoot a .22 or .410 with muzzle away from the dog. Let him retrieve it. Move closer 5 yards at a time watching for any flinching, until you are at your friends side and see if he is O.K. with the noise. Then progress to a 12 gauge and start the process again. If you have access to live wing clipped birds (pigeons, chuckar, pheasant etc) use this at this time to really get him pumped for the loud noise. If he is just showing tendencies you'll get through the whole process in 1 1/2-3 weeks. If he is actually gun-shy (run from the gun, won't come back, cowers etc) 5-8 weeks is more the norm. I know it's a killer not to take your new buddy out hunting with you, but this little time out will pay dividends for the next 10 years. The gamble if you don't, means you may have a couch dog for the next 10 years! Good Luck! Ken

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Let me guess the name first Bart, Santa's Little Helper? I had similar circumstances with my lab. When she was a pup, the first time she was in a blind was terrible for her. We were in my buddy's boat and he has a cadillac blind built around it...the problem...the dog couldn't see. After firing several rounds the dog had no idea what was going on...she was scared. That evening at home she didn't want to be near me particularly while I was holding my gun. I spent a few nights giving her treats while I held my gun and got her comfortable with it again. Next, I hunted stretches of river. We sat in the grass and all the birds came from either up river or down river. It was easy for her, we could hide with no problem and she figured out her purpose. Now, if I grab a gun, or pull some camo out of the closet she's got her nose pressed up against the door. If I open it, she runs through the yard and jumps into the boat.

After a string like that you'd think I have a solution to your problem. I do not think however that your dog is gun shy. My dog occassionally stops short of the blind also but I know why. I think you should pay very close attention to what birds you dog does this with next time you're in the blind. I don't just mean mallards or woodies, I mean the exact bird. The reason I say this is because occassionally fowl have fleas/lice...and this year I've found lice on over 50% of the mallards I've shot even though it's actually more common for teal to have them. Anyway, by the time the dog gets to you the lice are usually climbing around in their mouths on their snoot, etc and once they get close to you they'll drop the bird as a result.

I pluck my ducks, not sure if you'd see the lice if you breast out your fowl. I'd be interested to know if anyone else has found this to be true?

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Thanks so much for the responses. Buckblaster, you're close. It's one of those deals where I get the dog, but my wife gets to name him. The result: Samwise Gamgee - a hobbit gardener. No wonder he's ascared!

Labs: Thanks for the advice, will try it right away. Should I keep him away from pheasant hunting during this time period as well? I know it's not quite as loud and he wouldn't be as close to the sound, but it could still scare him, right?

Thanks again,
Bart

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If he hasn't seen a flushing bird, and shows some timidness now,why throw in the comotion of guys yelling ROOSTER, a flush, guns going off, etc. etc. I agree he needs to associate guns and birds, but why "put his feet to the fire"? I know most guys get away with taking their dogs out and hunting them and everything turns out right but every dog is different. If it's a case where the dog really is just confused with the guns going off in the blind, and he hasn't equated that with birds yet, I'd say hunt him; but with him not wanting to come back after the retrieve he is definitley afraid of the blast, to what degree...I don't know I haven't seen him. That's for you to judge. as far as him assoc. Guns with birds that is why I said use birds towards the end of the training. If you start out with birds you also can SOUR him on birds if he associates the LOUD BLAST (which he doesn't like) with the bird. Then you really have BIG BIG issues. Associating loud noises with things he LIKES and NEEDS (food)(he is a Lab smile.gif ) takes the birds out of the equation up front. He won't have a choice as far as eating goes (he has to eat) and he WILL eventually except the noises with it. Then you progress it into the hunting situation and bring in the birds. I've broke several gun shy dogs incl. one that was written off by the owner. He stated the dog took off on him and he didn't find her for 3 days. I said I'd be willing to work with her and 7 weeks later she went home. I planted 6 chuckar for her and him when he came to pick her up. She hunted beautiful, sat to the flush and made each retrieve, (incl. one that took 4 shots to knock down) He stood there with his mouth open and couldn't believe it was the same dog. What it comes down to is making the loud noises an everyday thing and then tying into hunting, GOOD LUCK! Ken

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