Questions on training a slightly gun shy pup


New member
Im a new gundog owner myself but have learned a ton this past year. Just what I experienced and whats worked for me so far...

The best thing I ever did with Remi (11 month old lab) in regards to proper gunfire intro was, go slow and always associate the noise with live birds. Just birds first. A few times. Then slowly, from a distance add the 22 starter pistol. We actually started with a loud clap, then cap gun, then the pistol. Do this repetitively. Its not a sprint, its a marathon. My pups temperament is weird. Shes tough, but soft. Hard to explain. I had concerns going into it with how she responded to loud noises initially. I knew if I had a gunshy dog, I didn't have a gundog. By going slow, starting far-far away, not firing over her, I now have a dog that when she hears the gun, shotgun or 22 pistol, she marks EXCITEDLY for a bird or bumper in the air. I probably had her on at least 100 birds, at least 15 plus days out with the gun before I went to our next step and threw her a mark with gunfire. But when we did that, we started all over again. The gun being 100 yards away even though we could get as close as we wanted with the shotgun associated w/live birds by the time we got through a bunch of the quail. Shes the one who taught me that its a marathon over the long haul. She takes a while to get used to new things and I learned to slow down as well. Slow, long transition is what I'd keep telling myself. I learned from a few on here, a few local to me and many books where I noticed one thing they ALL had in common(no matter their training style), was take your time and do not rush gunfire intro. All is not lost, just take a step back and you will get your two leaps forward.
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New member
The average gun dog lives 15+ years, there is NEVER a reason to rush a dog based off the idea you might miss a hunting season, while birds make a bird dog impatience creates gun shyness, I am not calling the OP impatient I am only speaking from my limited experience I am on my second GSP and the first was an amazing hunter that i trained from reading books and post on this forum. My current GSP is 6 months and while there are some pups out hunting at 6 months Samson is a little slower so we will hunt (controlled training sites) ALONE all season. If I break him in my first year I end up with a great house companion that is no different then a pomeranian and definitely not what I got him for. So my humble recommendation is to go back to gun introductory with a starter pistol and lots of pigeons, at a distance, if birds are not available I actually started with playing fetch with his favorite toy which was one of the recommendations from this forum years ago. Best of luck to you!



New member
I'll be the dissenter and recommend you stop. Pushing through gunshyness will only make the problem worse. I like that you were honest about her experiences with gunfire and I see a couple things that could have caused the problem. Being around clay target shooting before proper introduction is not a good thing, also a .22 is not the same as a blank gun, with the crack/report being much more sharp and not using live birds as incentive. The second she shows any reaction, as in breaking her concentration when going for the retrieve, you need to take a step back and get her to a point where she doesn't do that. Personally, I would start by building bird drive, letting her find and chase pigeons. Then after she is showing that good drive, introduce a blank gun from a distance, 100 yards and gradually work your way up to get over a period of a couple weeks. Then after you are shooting over her with no reaction with the blank gun, start the same process over from a distance with a 20ga and then a 12ga. Then take her out hunting by yourself and gradually add 1 or 2 more people in. Take 2 months to ensure this problem is fixed now or risk having a dog with major issues. Talk to the trainer you are planning on using and get their take on what's going on. Not sure where you're located, but I'd be glad to help if you need it. Good luck.

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