Genetic Gunshyness??

A5 Sweet 16

Well-known member
I understand that gunshyness is either created (& potentially cured) or prevented. I also understand that ideally, regardless of breeding, a dog would be "properly" acclimated to gunfire by a proven method. Because even the "best bred" dog can become gunshy if not acclimated properly.

Question: Do you think a dog can be genetically predisposed to be either gunshy or not gunshy?? Whether that be somewhat likely or very likely??
 

Gatzby

Active member
I'm not sure if I think they are predisposed but some dogs are just more skittish and need a slower more methodical intro to gunfire. Now is that because the parents were "softer, more jumpy" or a lacking in self confidence? Or is less than ideal socialization the culprit? The dang Nature versus nurture discussion.
My best dogs have been very self confident to the point of wanting to be self-employed when hunting, these dogs all flew through bird/gun intro.
 
I think there definitely is some genetic component. Just as I think some dogs and breeds do not like loud noises, yelling, etc.

My Braque Francais is supposedly a dog originally bred to hunt birds at night with nets. The peons were not allowed to hunt the estates so they would go out at night, follow the dogs who would point and throw nets and catch birds.

They were bred to be quiet and hunt in the quiet.

I know if I yell or if I'm hunting with someone who yells at their dog, mine will just go into a shell and wonder WTH is going on. He's always been great at hand signals and little whistles from me. Other breeds I have had and hunted with, not so much.
 

westksbowhunter

Well-known member
My answer is no. Proper socialization, proper intro to the gun, and you won't have a gunshy dog regardless of the breeding. Genetics to a gunshy dog show up in human genetics not dogs. There are some people that can ruin any dog, regardless of breeding.
 

westksbowhunter

Well-known member
I think there definitely is some genetic component. Just as I think some dogs and breeds do not like loud noises, yelling, etc.

My Braque Francais is supposedly a dog originally bred to hunt birds at night with nets. The peons were not allowed to hunt the estates so they would go out at night, follow the dogs who would point and throw nets and catch birds.

They were bred to be quiet and hunt in the quiet.

I know if I yell or if I'm hunting with someone who yells at their dog, mine will just go into a shell and wonder WTH is going on. He's always been great at hand signals and little whistles from me. Other breeds I have had and hunted with, not so much.
There is really never a reason to yell at dog. If you have to yell at your dog, it was not properly taught the command from the beginning. A dog goes into a shell because it is confused and does not know what the owner wants it to do. It doesn't know what to do because it was not taught the command given. Its the same with dogs and children. For years, when I would struggle with my students as school or players on my team, I would go into Bobby Knight mode. Then it dawned on me, that their failures were based on my instruction. My classroom and gym runs itself now.
 

Labs

Active member
I don't think it's a genetic trait per se, other than avoiding loud unexpected sounds would be an expected survival response.
 

westksbowhunter

Well-known member
I don't think it's a genetic trait per se, other than avoiding loud unexpected sounds would be an expected survival response.
That is why you teach them to associate birds and food with the sound of the gun. You introduce one then the other, and then put them both together. I start with prey drive first at 8 weeks then progress to gun intro at feeding time. I start with a training pistol and acorn crimps. I have a helper fire one shot 100 yds away as the puppy is diving to the feed bowl. They will never hear the shot really. Each week progress inward 10 yds at time. When I get down to 50 yds, I restart with marks. As the puppy is running to the mark with the bird in the air, I have a helper fire one shot from 100 yds away, then work our way in again. Then proceed the same way with a shotgun. Now the puppy associates gun fire with food and birds, its 2 favorite things. The puppy is confidents and will jump up with excitement and perky ears the rest of its life when it hears a gun shot. Fireworks are a whole different story.
 
My thoughts are that it is possible. In that some dogs may have more range of hearing or possibly more acute hearing. Probably wrong words but you get my drift. After all some dogs can't mark as well as others and some dogs can't scent as well as others. We've all had dogs that excelled in those traits so why not in hearing. Can they be trained or desensitized, sure. That's why most of us look for our dogs out of hunting lines. Don't know of any hunting lines that produced gun-shy dogs getting much call for. Again some of the show lines have dogs that couldn't mark if their life depended on it, so maybe they are more prone to gunshyness. They are what we breed for.
 

BritChaser

Well-known member
There is really never a reason to yell at dog. If you have to yell at your dog, it was not properly taught the command from the beginning. A dog goes into a shell because it is confused and does not know what the owner wants it to do. It doesn't know what to do because it was not taught the command given. Its the same with dogs and children. For years, when I would struggle with my students as school or players on my team, I would go into Bobby Knight mode. Then it dawned on me, that their failures were based on my instruction. My classroom and gym runs itself now.
Recently saw a fella walking a non-bird dog on a leash in town and issuing commands in a voice loud enough to be heard 150 yards away. "WHOA!!" "SIT!!" "WALK!!" Over and over again. The poor dog was leaning away on the leash. I felt sorry for it. A good example of a man not being smart enough to have a dog.
 
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