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We brought our one year old Vizsla out yesterday to see how she would do around a 20 gauge, she has been around 22's before and didn't have any problem. We were about 30 yards from the shooter and had her on a lead with a dummy scented thrown in front of her. Once the shotgun went off so did she, in the opposite direction under our pickup! She spent the next few hours shaking in her kennel. Does anyone have any suggestions? We went out last night and bought a cap gun and are going to try that in our own yard today, but besides that we are at a loss. My husband has been looking forward to having a hunting partner with her! Any suggestions are welcome.
 

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Put the cap gun in the drawer, Now. Don't shoot it near her until you get a little further along.

This is the way I start dogs out to the gun:

I grab a shotgun, the dog, and my wife, We head to either the woods, or the range on a weekday.
We put the dog on a leash, my wife holds it, and I walk away with the gun. I walk so that the dog can see me and follow me with it's eyes.
After about a 100yards, or so, I discharge the shotgun, away from my wife and dog, and we watch their reaction. If it's positive, my wife walks the dog maybe 10-15 yards closer, and we repeat. Always watching their reaction for signs of distress. As long as no distress is registered we keep going. Any anxiety is cause for stopping.
When I do stop, she lets the dog go and I call it too me. Lots of praise and fun.

I don't actually discharge a shotgun over the dog until I have them going crazy in a field of birds, and I always discharge the shotgun away from them. from a good distance.

In your case you may want to take Ava to a skeet range and sit in the car with her while she hears the shotguns go off. keep the windows rolled up for awhile, and roll them down over time.
If possible it would be great if she could watch yopu walk up to the shotgunners from the car.

What you are trying to do is instill in her that you are associated with the noise, and that it's okay.
 

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Sad to say IMO, if that dog acted that way from 30 yards, it will act that way at 100 yards. I would not have tested a new dog at 30 yards myself. Even if the dog had never been exposed to gun fire, that alone could have created a problem for it's first exposure to shotgun fire.

With that reaction "next few hours shaking in her kennel", that dog is probably afraid of just the sight of a shotgun at this point. I would go back beyond basics. Carry a shotgun with you when you feed the dog, when you play with the dog. Just do that a while, then progress to just dry firing the shotgun at those times. Just the click of the trigger/firing pin for a while, then to the cap gun from there and so on. But the event such as eating/playing needs to overwhelm the fear of the gun each time and create an association of good things with the gun to the point the dog is excited when it sees you bring the gun out. With a one year old dog, go slow. I doubt you will be able to hunt over this dog this season.

Google gunshy on the net. There is a lot of good stuff online about it. There are some good DVDs out there too that will help address it.
 

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I'm new to hunting breeds, and new to Vizsla's, but I have a 14 week old puppy and I'm just now (i.e. "today") starting to get him used to gun shots by taking him to an area about 150+ yards away from a gun range.

For example, this afternoon there was 1 guy on the firing line, firing a rifle, and it was good training to spend about 5 minutes letting the puppy get used to hearing the shots - he was interested, and alert after each shot, but he wasn't otherwise affected - it was a positive experience - and then I left after about 10 shots.

I'll take it slowly, and will eventually bring him closer and closer. Hopefully this will work for my puppy, but it may be something you want to consider.

Regards
 

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Its been a long time since i posted on this forum. Only remembered about it due to the email they just sent me.

Please don't take this the wrong way. That being said here it comes... If you take your dog to a gun range and think it will make it used to guns you are completely wrong. At best you will get lucky and still have a gun dog. At worst you will, if you want a hunting dog, be giving that dog to a good home and finding another one. And the only person you will have to blame is yourself for complete ignorance :mad:

Also to the person who just took their V and let someone fire a 20gauge 30 yards away for no reason what so ever and the dog high tailed it back to the truck and shook for hours. Please don't ever do that again. You will be lucky to fix this dog at this point, but it can be done if you don't rush the process. You cannot rush training a bird dog. It takes steps and birds birds and more birds. You wouldn't want you builder building your house by skipping steps or Putting the wood on top of the basement 2 minutes after the basement was built. No you wait let the concrete harden then lay your sub-floor. Point is there are steps that have to be followed. If they are followed you will have a gun dog most of the time.

A bird dog first has to be socialized and every aspect of training is for fun and positive, did I say positive.? The running and hiding dog did not have a positive experience to the gun and will need additional work to come around.(more steps than most). Also a bird dog as I stated before needs Birds Birds and more Birds... that being said even before birds are introduced there are basic commands that are done in the yard and then be done in the field then birds are introduced. I cannot type a whole training regiment so back to the original question.

How to break a dog to the gun. Have your dog on a check cord. Get some good flying pigeons and take the dog to a nice field. hopefully the dog has been on birds before in the yard and is not afraid of birds. If not introduce the bird by cross the pigeons wings so it cannot fly and throw the bird on ground and let dog check it out. Then once past the introduction to birds let the dog see the pigeon get them excited if they are not excited. release the pigeon and let it fly with the dog chasing it HAVING FUN. Do this several times. Then once the dog is chasing the pigeon and is a little ways off fire a blank gun and judge dogs response. if the dog is intent on the flying bird it didn't even notice the sound. this eventual sound will be associated with FUN OF CHASING BIRDS AND DOG WILL BE EXCIETED DOWN THE ROAD FOR GUN SHOTS. Do this for several sessions if necessary. obviously if you dog points plant the pigeons and let the dog point them but not get them. we really are allowing the chase here to introduce the gun. Down the road chasing is not desired in a bragging rights gun dog. Next step is get more pigeons and your 20ga shot gun do the same but only shoot if the dog is further away. if all goes well and dog continues to chase and not worry about the shot GOOD. continue for a few training sessions moving gun and dog closer together and your ready to shoot over this dog. this is not to say the dog is ready to be shot over( steady to shot but the gun work is done) The whole point is to MAKE IT FUN. NOW THE DOG ASSOCIATES BIRDS AND GUNSHOT TOGETHER WITH FUN. And you have a gun broke dog.
 

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Previous post was right on. I was worried about it too. I have been running my 4-5month old on wild birds for the past couple months. I just let her chase and have a great time. (This is in a field in a residential area, so no BOOM). Sometimes she has a bit too much fun and I lose her for a bit.
Last weekend was the big test. Took her out chukar hunting and she ran through a couple good groups of birds.She was really birdy working back and forth and kicked out a single. I shot, bird fell, she was still hunting!
She ran to the bird sniffed it and was on her way to the next group. It will be nice when she starts pointing, but I am excited she is not gun shy and is very birdy.
I threw the dead bird a few times for her and she was retrieving too. I guess now it is time for a bird launcher and check cord in a more controlled setting. Get her to hold a point or two before next season would be great!
 

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I guess we lucked out. Our V has loved guns since day one. We never did any kind of desensitizing with her either.

My son will open his gun case and she goes crazy trying to figure out if they are going shooting. 8)

Best of luck to you!
 

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As you have now learned, Vizslas are typically very sensitive, especially to loud noises that they are not expecting. I hate to mention it but you may have lost this dog as a hunting partner.

That being said, there is at least one CD on the market that is supposed to help overcome the gun shyness you have experienced. You might try that as a first approach. In any case, you need a professional Vizsla trainer who has worked through this problem before. It is not going to be easy or cheap.

My approach to training for the gunshot is the following:

Gun Discharge Training – Extreme caution advised

Once your dog/puppy has developed a strong interest in birds, you will want to progress to introducing the gunshot. Extreme caution should be exercised, as doing this gunshot training incorrectly will ruin your dog for future hunting/field work. The best way to do this that I have found is to start out first with the usual noises in the home. Examples are dropping things on the floor, crushing (empty) soda cans on the floor with your foot, making a noise with your cooking pans and dog dinner bowls, etc. You can follow this by buying a child’s cap pistol and taking your dog/puppy into the back yard and while he is chasing a ball or playing with his toys, fire off a shot occasionally with your body between the dog and the cap pistol to muffle the shot. When your dog is comfortable with this, fire the cap pistol in the air as he is playing with his toys with no shielding by your body.

The next step in this gunshot training would be to go back to the training field and hide another purchased bird in the wire cage in the field (Use either Chukar, Pigeons or Quail for training). Again, let your dog hunt through the field until he finds it. If necessary, help him by walking in the direction of the planted bird. (Again, make sure that the field is large, at least 30-50 acres. You want to give your dog plenty of room to run and not cause him to chase the bird through a barbed-wire fence!) He may point at the cage, or he may just try to get at the bird. Again, you don't care. You want the dog to be excited about finding the bird. Once he finds the bird, again make a big deal about it with lots of praise and encouragement. Then go to the cage and release the bird as in the earlier training. If restrained by a helper, the dog must be released when the bird starts to fly. Your dog will chase after the bird. Count to at least 4 seconds (one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, etc.) after the bird starts to fly, then fire a .22 cal starter pistol containing 5 mm "Acorn" (Crimp) blanks AWAY from the dog. These are the quietest blanks available. The best way is to fire the pistol behind you towards the ground (and away from your helper), but firing it up in the air is OK. When your dog returns, let him know that this is lots of fun and again give him lots of praise and encouragement. Do this for at least a day or two a week, no more than one or two birds per day, with lots of praise until you see that he is comfortable with this exercise. Next, increase the shot sound by using lour black powder .22 cal blanks or nail gun blanks obtained from the local hardware/building supply store. Again, once your dog is comfortable with this exercise, you can advance to the 410 shotgun if you have one, or the 20 ga. if not. Fire the shotgun away from the dog in the opposite direction. Continue to delay the shot until the dog is fully focused on chasing the birds. Remember the objective is to have him chasing the birds and be totally focused on them. He should be ready to be shot over in about three to six weeks of this training. The idea is to get the dog focused on chasing the bird when you fire the shot. He will block out anything else including the gunshot, and of course will not hear you yelling NO or COME or anything else. Don't worry, the bird will fly away and your dog will come back and start looking for the next bird. He says to himself, "gee, this is great fun!!" You want to encourage this. If you can hide two birds in two separate cages during the same training period, this is even better. Do not let the dog see where you put the cage(s), have a helper hold onto the dog (or leave the dog in your car) while you walk away with the bird(s) in the cage(s) to plant it (them). Plant it about 25/30 yards away and in brush or a depression so the dog has to look for the bird. When you go back and release the dog, let him run and have fun but you amble towards the first planted cage. Your dog will generally follow you. You want to get him to stumble onto the cage containing the bird. The second planted bird will usually get the point across to him that he is looking for birds, can find them and have fun chasing after them when they fly.
 

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I agree with Gunrr, not sure the cap gun is the best idea. Just my two cents.

With my last dog (beagle) we brought him out to a large open field and started about 3-400 yards away firing the first shot. He didn't flinch, so we moved a little bit closer after each shot, and continued until we were side by side. It definately helps if the dog is well aquainted with the person firing the gun, as they will always be interested in what you are doing. Also, I think some dogs in general are more sensitive to loud noises than others.
 

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We agree with the above mentioned. I drop pots and pans on the floor when they least expect it or make other loud noises in the house.

Just recently we have taken our hunting dogs out to our lake property and on leash, my husband fires his 40c handgun while I'm quite a ways away praising both dogs and making it a very positive experience. As we work with them I get a little bit closer and they dont seem to mind it at all. Its treat time with a little noise. Well....big noise. Lol :)
 

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I think jcbuch is right on the money. Introducing a bird dog to the gun is more about creating a positive association between birds and guns than it is about pure desensitization to loud noises.
 
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