How to Break a Gun Shy Dog?


Bird dog jumping over a fence chasing down pheasants

My past dog training experiences have proved that most dog problems are manmade. Gun shyness is one of them. In fact, I have seen and heard of several methods about how to break a dog of gun shyness. However, I have been taught that the best way to introduce gunfire to a dog is to keep the dog focused on a certain object, such as a bird. Then, while they are excited about the bird, you can introduce gunfire.

First start out with a blank gun until they get used to it.  You can slowly introduce them to louder guns as they become more comfortable with the blast. This prevents the dog from being scared of the loud noises.

Here is an example of a situation with a dog that belongs to a good friend of mine.  One day my friend came to me concerned about his dog’s behavior in the field. She didn’t want to leave his side. He explained he had taken her on a hunt with some friends, and halfway through the hunt she come running back to his side. I had him bring her to our training field. We set out some quail, but she wouldn’t leave his side. So, I had him lead her to a couple birds to get her excited about the birds. She soon was finding the birds on her own.

After a few days of this we were able to take her to the field, and she was anxious to find the birds on her own. Once she went on point my friend kicked the bird up, she went after it and I pulled the trigger on the blank gun about 20 yards away. At first, she stopped and looked back to see where the noise came from then went back to see where the bird went. I slowly worked closer to her sounding the gun each time a bird got up. Eventually, I was able to shoot the blank gun close to where the bird got up.

Now understand, this didn’t happen overnight, it took several weeks. After getting her used to the blank gun we introduced her to a 410, then to a 20 gauge, eventually a 12 gauge, and then to multiple shots.  Now she doesn’t seem to have any problems with her wanting to stay by his side. She enjoys hunting. In fact, I have had the pleasure of hunting with my friend and his dog several times. I would take her as a hunting partner anytime…

-Terry AbneyHunting wild quail in Illinois


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Last Updated: June 17th, 2024

One thought on “How to Break a Gun Shy Dog?

  1. My GSP (grizz) was gun shy, well he loved to play ball, so I went and bought a Big Red plastic Bat and Ball, that made a real loud sound, we played 4 to 5 times a day, he got used to the bang of the bat and ball and he has been fine, did this for about 3 weeks, we still play ball and hunt, no more gun shy dog.

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