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OT - Noise Desensitivity Training for a Dog

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by dmarbell, Jan 7, 2009.

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  1. dmarbell

    dmarbell Active Member

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    I have a friend with a German Shorthair Pointer. This dog is a pampered pet, not a hunting dog. Dog is about seven years old, and is terrorized by any noises. Cowers under beds during thunderstorms. Last weekend I was visiting them in Wrightsville Beach, NC and there were duck hunters in the waterway. The dog was scared to the point she would not leave the house. These gunshots were several hundred yards away, at least.

    Can this dog be cured, as this age? I was thinking if he brought her to our shooting club (Durham County Wildlife Club) and hung around the lake, she might become desenstitized. Any opinions? Any good dog trainers out there?

    Danny
     
  2. Setterman

    Setterman Well-Known Member

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    Dan, We start our pups by shooting a 22, or clapping 2 x 4's together while their eating. Start 30 yards away and move closer till you see a reaction. If it goes OK, we then move up to a .410 and eventually a 12 ga. Try to keep gunfire a "positive" happening with the dog. Fire a 22 when he's doing something he enjoys. If he runs from his food with the 22 fire, I'd get a new pup if you want a hunting dog. We train 2 dogs a year. I'm not a pro, but I know this one of the hardest things to change in a dog.
     
  3. Bocephas

    Bocephas Well-Known Member

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    I have never seen a dog overcome this fear.
    I have a lab I duck hunt with.He sees the gun come out and he is ready to go hunt.We have a little house dog.She sees a gun case and she is gone.
    I have heard in a very few cases of a young dog getting over this.
    I have never heard this with an older dog.

    Good luck

    Bo
     
  4. Bruce Specht

    Bruce Specht Well-Known Member

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    Take the dog to the club along with it's favorite treats. Lavish the dog with treats and reassurance as the shooting starts. Be ther before the shooting starts. Let the dog know that her owner is there and will protect her and it may take more than one outing but the dog will get use to the idea.
     
  5. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    The trick is to get the dog in a setting where something else fun is going on and then introduce the sound of gun fire in small progressions. I usually have two other adult dogs when I get a new pup and we go out for runs several times a week. The new pup quickly realizes that run time = fun time and after a few outings, I start shooting a .22 pistol. Usually the new pup takes notice of the noise but since the other dogs aren't alarmed they just keep having fun. It doesn't take much of the outings with .22 noise until I can shoot a centerfire pistol without scaring the new dog. Within a matter of months, the dog will get real happy and excited when they see you with a gun because they associate that with fun time.

    Now for the older single dog, you need to somehow get that environment where they are having fun and then introduce the noise of a gunshot. A trap range may not be the place to do that. I have seen a lot of guys dragging very frightened dogs around at our range saying they need to cure their dogs of being gunshy. I looks to me that they are makeing the problem worse. Get the dog in a fun environment first then bring the noise in slowly. Other gundogs can help with this. Your idea about walking the lake by the gun range probably won't work because you can't control the noise. You need mininal stimulus at just the right time to start off with. Look for a big field to romp in and shoot .22 blanks if need be.
     
  6. Jawhawker

    Jawhawker TS Member

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    Iam by no means a pro trainer but what your suggesting in taking the dog to the range could destroy him. It maybe way more than he can handle. At best it could make him such a nervous wreck that a door shutting, pan rattling, phone ringging, etc could send him into convulsions due to fear.

    This is a very hard item to cure once it has been established. Ot will take a pains_taking period of time to accomplish. What others have stated in introducing small and increasingly louder incremints of noise while doggie is doing something it enjoys is best method. Stay cleat of sure_fire instant cures that some may say will resolve issue!!!!!!!
     
  7. BDodd

    BDodd TS Member

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    There's this too. Our Golden would sleep through a war at the gun club early on but later she obviously had become sensitive to the sharp sounds with age. From about age 9 or 10 and beyond, we couldn't get her to be within 100 yards of gunfire. She wasn't bothered if it was far enough away but much closer and she was obviously in pain.....breakemall....Bob Dodd
     
  8. Hap MecTweaks

    Hap MecTweaks Well-Known Member

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    You'll probably waste a lot of time and money with a dog that age. A 50 foot lead rope on a bird dog doing something he loves, pointing birds and you might stand a chance. When he points the bird, fire a primer only at the flush when the dogs senses are peaked on that bird!! Many rounds later, it may help. Still, no guarantee though. Hap
     
  9. g7777777

    g7777777 TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    There is a commercial product-- you can use it to acclimate puppies but also to "cure" this

    it helps to desensitise the dog

    now it is available on CD--

    Call Gun Dog Magazine- or get a copy- they advertise in there

    I am not at home or I would just look it up myself

    regards from Iowa

    Gene
     
  10. otnot

    otnot Active Member

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    I used a .22 blanks when feeding method for my male Chessy but my female was always skittish over loud noises. That is until she was 5 years old and my male was gone. She was fully trained so I took her duck hunting one day. The first time I shot she cowered in the corner of the blind so I let her settle down and sent her on a blind retrieve. She was comfortable with that. When she found that wounded duck and came back I praised her over and over again and she was truly excited. The next shot she figured out the relationship between the sound of the shot and a nice warm tasty bird. She was never again afraid of gunshots and turned into the best retriever I have had.

    I would find yourself some live game birds(domestic ducks) and let your dog retrieve them without gunfire. Then start to add some noise slowly to the routine. You can teach old dogs new tricks!
     
  11. birdogs

    birdogs TS Member

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    There was a felloow named Steve Rafe who had audio tapes which he swore worked in curing gun shyness. I never used them and I lost contact with Steve when he left New Jersey, but it might be worth a try, if you can find him.

    Remember, many dogs who aren't afraid of gunfire fear thunder and firecrackers. The most important thing you can do is not to re-inforce the fear. Do not try to comfort the dog. Do not make eye contact when there is a loau noise. This will only confirm to him that there is something to be afraid of. IGNORE IT AND THE DOG!
     
  12. dsm80

    dsm80 TS Member

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    I tried the tapes with my last dog and they did not work. I tried conditioning training from the day she came home with noises during feeding without success.

    Finally a field trial enthusiast told me of the last resort.
    First slowly reduce your dog's food intake over two weeks to about half or less rations.

    Then put a live quail that is rendered flightless by wing clipping the feathers into the brush. Once your dog has pointed the bird after several relocations, decapitate the quail and feed about half the breast raw to the dog. Repeat daily for about 2 weeks. Then progress to a remote quail release and shoot with a 410 or 28 gauge. The dog maybe alarmed but make your way quickly to the downed bird and induce the dog to eat part of the breast.

    After this is accomplished my dog would point birds and retrieve. She forever was scared of guns but no longer ran away when birds were present.

    My best advice is get a different bird dog. I haven't found being a house dog doesn't make or brake a bird dog.

    david muff
     
  13. Dutchboy

    Dutchboy TS Member

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    It is actually pretty easy and quick to fix this sort of neurosis.

    What you want to establish in the dog's experience is that NOISE is followed by good things.

    Shooting over a dog that's chasing birds often works, but it can well establish the relationship that BIRDS cause UNPLEASANT NOISE. Then you have a dog on your hands that starts blinking birds. Not ideal.

    To cure sensitivity, buy a cap gun and get a bucket of treats. Fire the cap gun, act like nothing happened, and call the dog for his treat. Again, act like nothing out of the ordinary has happened. Give the dog his treat.

    Repeat this every day for a week or so, and you will find that the dog will actually start coming to you to collect his treat after the noise. When he does, fire the cap gun again. In about two weeks, most dogs will sit at your feet, wagging their tail, while you are shooting the cap gun.

    At that point, you are good to go. Just re-inforce at every opportunity that "noise" is always followed by treats. The dog will come to you (rather than run away), which is an additional benefit.

    Never heard of anyone trying this sequence, and not being succesfull. Some dogs respond quicker than others, but the will respond. HTH, Dutch.
     
  14. Shooting Sailor

    Shooting Sailor Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure you can change a 7 year old dog's temperament without probably more work than it is worth. It isn't a hunting dog, it isn't your dog, you don't say that the owner asked for your help, so why bother?
    That being said, some of the remedies above might work, but I really don't see the sense in the one where feeding a bird breast to a retriever would rid it of it's noise sensitivity without training it to eat your game you just shot.
    My labs started going to the club with me as soon as I got them. The old girl I have now would lie down and go to sleep on the firing line if there were no birds to retrieve, even as a pup. She still comes out to the line with me at practices And waits patiently while I shoot. She travels to the next post 2 or 3 times, then lies down and waits for us to finish. Most of the guys I shoot with just step over her and carry on to the next post.
    This is a result of just exposing her as a pup to the sound of gunfire from a distance, then moving closer and closer, talking to her constantly and distracting her from the noise. When she sits quietly while the shooting is going on, then I take her closer, until right on the line. Moving posts and making her sit quietly, and I have a dog that is ready to go start retriever training.
     
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