It's certainly a concern for gundog owners, writes Peter Blatch
Sorry, could you repeat that, please..?
Hearing is precious
Joking aside, hearing is a precious asset not just for us but also our gundogs. In fact dogs use their hearing far more than we give them credit for.
Hearing when wildfowling
A perfect example of this comes when you’re wildfowling. An experienced dog will pick up the sound of wingbeats and distant quacking from miles away and point his nose in the direction of the approaching birds.
At the same time he will probably also start wagging his tail. The man who ignores this ‘early warning’ system is a fool. In situations like this it pays to keep one eye on your dog – he will help put birds in the bag when you might be looking the other way.
Dogs do go deaf
In time some dogs, like people, do go deaf. But is this caused by shooting? It’s hard to say for sure.
However precautions can be taken – after all, we know that consistent loud noise can affect a human’s hearing.
So never position a dog so that it catches the loudest blast from a gun. Think first.
When taking low shots against pigeons dropping into decoys or mallard coming into a flight pond you should always have the dog alongside you, and away from the gun muzzles, so that they are shielded from the strident gun sounds.
On driven pheasant shoots it pays to have the dog sitting in front so that you can keep an eye on it and stop the little bugger running in to shot. In situations like this, however, there is little chance of gunfire damaging the dog’s eardrums. That’s because the muzzles, when the shot is taken, will be pointing skyward with the blast being directed upward and away from the dog.