Training a Gun-shy Dog – Part 4

As I wrote in my previous post, I had to start by letting the launcher appear so that he could get used to it. I simply tried to turn his anticipation of it to something positive.

This took a few weeks. I walked around, waving that launcher around all the time, without firing it. Instead I let other fun things happen. In the end I took Tassla out as support – I have noticed that Quling likes the support of Keen or Tassla or any other dog with whom he feels safe. The first time I fired the launcher, they sat like little statues with me about 20 yards way. I sent Quling right after the shot and everything went great.

We then worked on different variations of that training. We also worked alongside others, where they were the ones firing the shots and their dogs were retrieving and I rewarded Quling away from the gunfire with for example fun things to do or simply really tasty treats. Sometimes he just got to sit and watch. Or retrieve. That all worked well.

We’ve now reached the training that we’re doing right now. I take Qulan and Tassla out, put them in a sit, go out and shoot and throw several dummies 20 to 50 yards away, and also fire the launcher while I’m throwing. Then I return to the dogs and send them to retrieve one at a time to retrieve. Quling thinks it’s great fun and has even run in a couple of times. 😉 The second time he could deal with me stopping him and then having to wait for his turn. The retrieve worked well and “nothing broke”. With Quling, you’ll often not notice that something was scary until he’s in the middle of working, just after the scary situation occurred. The behavior will quite simply not hold up. But it actually feels like we’ve reached stable ground now. At home, that is. I tried to shoot and throw at a practice at another location, and he was really “hot” and wanted to run in at first. But then he became insecure and came zig-zagging in with the dummy, peed because he was so insecure and really cut down on his pace.

Earlier this year (in January) I trained with a friend who’s dog hunted and flushed a pheasant that was then shot – and Quling go to work next to that dog and retrieve the pheasant as soon as it hit the ground.

This is what I look forward to doing this autumn – but I’d prefer to shoot over him myself. I hope I can make this happen within the next six months. I also think that it would create better cooperation between us. He needs to understand why I’m useful during the hunt. 😉 And that shots predict really awesome things. We’ll see how everything turns out. Anything can happen and our path has been anything but straight. But I’m learning so much! 😉

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