I have a 15 week old pup, my 2nd GSP and I wanted to ask a question regarding gun shyness. My last GSP had a problem with gun blast while hunting. I started off with a cap pistol across the yard at feeding time (she ate indoors) and gradually moved closer. I am an avid skeet shooter and took her to the range numerous times, starting from far away and moving closer over the course of 2 weeks. She showed no signs of fear or concern. I used to bring her onto the field and literally shot 1000's of times with her within 50 feet of me.
It was a different story when she put up her first pheasant and I shot OVER her. She would cower, shake and refuse to range after the 1st shot. I tried for a long time to fix this with little success. It got so bad, she would freak out at the sight/smell of my shotgun case.
What's the consensus on not causing this problem in the first place?
In all the days I have spent in the field with dozens of dogs ranging from 6week old puppies to 2 year old adults starting on birds. A pheasant has NEVER scared a dog to this extent. Even your "show" bred dog is a little surprised for the 1st one but will chase the 2nd.
Not to mentiont he fact that he says after the 1st shot the dog wont range. This shows it wasnt the bird but infact the gun.
I would say either somthing is left out in your story or the dog was so focused on that bird the gun scared it. But even then your dog shouldnt have gotten this scared. Somthing happened before the incident with the pheasant that caused this gun Shyness.
I am by no means an expert in gun shyness, but I have been a dog trainer for a while and have recently gotten into training my dogs for hunting. I looked at allot of methods and talked to allot of GSP and pointing dog hunt trainers and almost everyone recommended the method used by Perfection Kennels. I used it with my boy, Ringo, and it worked wonderfully. I did this when Ringo was 4 mos old and he never even paid attention to the gun shots. Basically, you introduce the dog to birds and get then interested in the birds and really excited. Then you get someone to stand across a field with a gun and after the dog points you flush the bird and the person on the other side of the field shoots the gun. Before long the dog is associating the gun shot with birds. Gradually move the gun closer. If the dog reacts at all to the gun move back a little and continue. With Ringo he never reacted to the gun and within a couple of hours we were shooting a blank over him. Granted Ringo comes from really good hunting lineage, but so far it has worked well with all my dogs. This is not getting them used to the sound so much as associating something they like (birds) with the sound (like the bell ring with Pavlov's salivating dogs).
Not unless the dog is extremly timid would a pheasant be a problem and if that was the case signs of gunshyness would have shown prior to the first intorduction of birds.
I do agree though with the perfection kennels video idea. Get yourself a copy of that, follow it and you wont have a problem.
I just get my dogs reved up for birds. Usually running them 3 or 4 times a week on wild birds. Once the dog is chasing the birds and that all he is thinking about do I shoot. I use a 20ga. and planted birds if season isnt open. I wait until I can get a quartering away shot, the dog is about 30 yrds away, and I make darn sure I drop that bird. Its even better if you can wing them so they have a little life in them. That way when the gun goes off if pup turns around he is attention is quickly turned from me to the birds fluttering around. This is what works for me.