If you plan on using your dog for sport, nothing can be more frustrating than a dog that is gun shy. While all dogs are different, if introduced to gunfire properly, you should diminish the likelihood that your dog will be gun shy.
Introducing your dog to gunfire will be a process but it will go much smoother if you teach your dog to associate what he loves most with the sound. Don’t just fire off a gun to see if your dog is gun shy or not. Treats, toys, and play are all good things to use when firing off a gun in your dog’s presence. Start off by shooting a smaller gun, such as a 22, and then gradually move your way up in size as your dog becomes accustomed to the sound.
If you are raising your dog from a pup there are a couple of different ways to get him used to hearing gun fire without shying away. If you live in a rural area, fire a blank pistol at feeding time so your pup begins to associate the noise with food. Make sure you fire it far enough away from the feeding area so that it’s not too loud for the puppy. Remember that what you perceive as loud will be different from what your dog will perceive as loud. If you dog loses interest in his meal because of the gunfire, that is your cue to use a gun that makes less noise or fire off a little farther away.
In the situation where you aren’t able to fire off a gun, blanks or not, there are a couple of other options to get your dog acquainted with gunfire in a positive way. Find a shooting range in your area and park 100 or so yards away and simply play with and train your dog. As long as your dog is having fun, he will associate gunfire with activities that he loves.
Some dogs are born gun shy because they are extremely sound sensitive. With consistent and patient effort, you may be able to get your gun shy dog to still enjoy hunting.
Adam Holmes is a writer with a passion for nature and a soft spot for Thai food. He currently freelances for Havahart Wireless, which specializes in progressive and humane wireless dog fences .