Monday, 18 June 2007
How can I teach my gun dogs not to be afraid of gunfire? I have two gun dogs that become distressed when they hear gunshots on walks.
Jeremy has been breeding gun dogs for over 25 years. He is a member of the Kennel Club and lives in Lancashire and is well known as a writer on country sports and rural issues.
Mark is an 'A' panel Kennel Club judge for spaniels and has represented England six times in international gundog events. He trains and breeds labradors and spaniels at the Cheweky Gundog Kennels in Yorkshire.
JEREMY SAYS:There are so many views on gun-shyness. Some say it does not truly exist and it's the way the dog is brought up that is the cause. Others believe it is a genuine problem suffered by some dogs and is one that can never be fully corrected. To have two dogs in the same ownership and living in the same environment that both suffer from this problem suggests to me that it's the way they have encountered gun fire and loud bangs that have led to the problem.
Probably, quite unknowingly, your dogs have been frightened by these noises as youngsters when alone; without reassurance from you they have developed this fear. Perhaps they have been alone in the house as pups and heard these noises or perhaps in the car or even out walking. Again, unknowingly, you have missed these early signs of distress and the fear has now turned into panic.
Instilling confidence will not be easy at this stage in the dogs' lives. I would seek professional help from a local gundog trainer who may be able to advise you or even from a basic dog obedience trainer, both of whom will have their own approach to this problem based on the individual dogs' precise reactions.
Dog behaviourists are also now widely available and may be able to offer some advice because it appears to me this is a condition that has been created simply from fear. The dogs need to understand these noises are not threatening. There are also DVDs available to help dogs overcome their fear of fireworks. These may be a help but I would use them in conjunction with professional advice.
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Gundog Questions, Shooting Gazette, PO Box 225, Stamford, Lincolnshire, PE9 2HS.
We stayed at my sister’s house over Christmas, and to my mortifi...
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