Gun dog training
PETER BLATCH
Most gun dog trainers have their own methods but one thing they don?t do is rush the introduction to shot.

Firing a gun near ? or close to ? a puppy just to gauge its reaction to the sudden noise is simply asking for trouble.

Instead, do things gradually. For instance, get him used to the sound of metal feed bowls being rattled around at feed times, the shrieks of children at play or the sudden bang of a door being slammed.

In other words, every day things.

I don?t normally expect to introduce gunfire until the puppy is six or seven months old and then I do it by firing an unloaded airgun, first from a distance while the pup is having a feed and then, over a period of days, move a little closer.

Watch his reaction and, if he shows, any nervousness, back off.

You can help get a pup to accept the sight of a gun by carrying an un-cocked air rifle over your arm during training lessons so that when the time does come to fire it without a pellet – at a distance – he probably won?t show the slightest alarm.

As he gets a little older you can enlist the help of a friend to fire a sub-sonic shotgun cartridge from a field or two away while you?re giving the young dog a lesson, or while he?s feeding.

Don?t fire more than one shot and watch his reaction; if he?s unconcerned, next day get your friend to move a little closer and fire a shot.

Because of the time you spend with your puppy only you will know when the moment is right to fire a gun close by.

If you can, use a little .410 shotgun for the ?up close introduction? and do it when the dog is enjoying a work out on game scented ground so he associates the sound with a pleasurable experience.