Training a Gun-shy Dog – Part 3

After the setback where Quling got terrified of the gunfire at a hunt (covered in a previous post), we began further back in the training process and quite quickly built us up to where we had been before the incident.

So, I figured I’d begin shooting for him myself. The plan was to put a bit of distance between us, shoot and throw, and immediately send him to retrieve. The problem was that as soon as he saw me pick up the launcher, he’d CRAWL off in the other direction … I quickly had to revise my plan and simply start by rewarding him for the launcher appearing. I got some of that work on film. At the beginning of the video you can see how low he gets – how he crouches and crawls away – but how it gets better when I let him do familiar things like retrieving. What I do then is improvisation – I try different things to see what will work.

In the next session, I try holding the launcher and throwing a dummy. Unfortunately, I had pointed the camera in the wrong direction, but I’ll still give you a peek here, because it will let you hear and partly see how challenging he finds it. He runs off with the dummy and doesn’t want to deliver while I’m holding the launcher. You can hear the deep sigh from the bottom of my soul at the end, hahaha … This really isn’t always easy…

In the third session, I first work him a bit without bringing out the launcher, and it goes pretty well. When I then bring the launcher out, he doesn’t react at first. He seems happy – but then see what happens (at about 2 minutes). He puts his nose to the ground and suddenly becomes very interested in sniffing. To me, he’s clearly trying to calm the situation –   he becomes insecure and sniffs to calm both me and himself.I then try to reward well and make it fun, but during this session the retrieve falls to pieces completely and he doesn’t want to come back in. At the end of this session I decide to remove the launcher and revert to doing super easy exercises that Quling has done thousands of times (the Carousel, the Hand Target). I’m simply trying to mend our retrieve. It all seems to be going well. Then the unlikely situation of a neighbor firing two shots after one another, maybe 200 meters away, occurs. I think we were both mostly surprised, and I didn’t notice any deterioration in his behavior:

In the next post, which will come in a week, I tell you how I proceeded after this and where we are in the training now. See you soon!

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