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Gun shy

 
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ksuwcat
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Joined: 21 Dec 2004
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Location: Kansas

PostPosted: 12/21/04, 8:44 pm    Post subject: Gun shy Reply with quote

My son has inherited an 8 mo old GWP. He has been working well and really aims to please. Unfortunately the dog appears to be gun shy, cowers from the sound and avoids a gun sitting on the floor. I want to be carefull with this situation and not make it worse. Is there any advice that we could use to work this out of the dog?
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cheerio
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Joined: 11 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: 12/22/04, 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gun sensitivity is nothing more than noise sensitivity. It is fixable, but it is work, and requires patience.
start by making a little noise everytime puppy is around you. In the kitchen, bang a few saucepans, on the driveway or any hard floors, drop his chain collar... First start with softer sounds, then increase it. When you call him, go down on your heels and clap your hands while cheering him up to encorage him to come to you. Make sure he is inside the house when you turn on the vaccuum cleaner...
When you feel he is getting better, leave him in the house and go pierce a balloon outside in the backyard. Repeat for several days. Then take him out and leave himn in the car, go as far as you can and start shooting several times. Make sure someone stays with him, talking to him as if nothing was happening while you do this. This will also allow you to know for sure how he is doing. Each time, after you end the shooting session, take him out and give him a fun time. You want the dog to associate the gun shots with having fun. When he is ready, get closer, and closer... Little by little, he will learn that there is nothing to it.
To be successful, you have to remember 3 things:
1- you are working with the principles of habituation. This means that you will need to reppeat the exercise often and regularly, and that you must always make noise several times at each session. One gun shot is likely to panick him, but after a few within a short time, he is more likely to get used to it.
2- you are working with the principles of desensitization. This means that you must advance slowly, at HIS pace and not as yours. The progress can go fast but they can also go slow. They may appear to go fast at first and then regress. This is normal in any behavior modification process. Don't be afraid to go back a few steps if this happens.
3- you are working with the principles of trust. The more you can bond with your dog the better. Take him everywhere with you, on leadsh, in the car... Talk to him as much as possible. Take classes: obedience, agility, whatever you and your pup may enjoy, Insist on discipline around the house: not harsh, but firm. Laugh with you dog, play with you dog, take him for walk. Make him your best pal.

In many European countries, no dog can become a champion (even in confirmation) until he passes his temperament test, which includes the famous gun shot. This is the method which is used to make sure the dog will "learn" to ignore it, and it works very well. But it does require consistency and patience.
Good luck.
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