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How to Introduce your Retriever Puppy to Gunfire

Introduce Gunfire Properly to prevent Gun Shy Puppies

Over the years I have seen very few field bred retrievers that were gun shy and I believe most of them were man made.

I am not a fan of shooting around puppies when they are eating or walking at a distance.  When you do this the puppy does not really connect the shot with any result and may be startled or at best be left unsure of whether the shot is a good thing or a bad thing.

Instead, let's condition the puppy to the shot in a way that he knows what the shot means and he knows that he likes what it means.

Wait until your puppy is retrieving marks that a helper throws for you. When he has enough experience that he is very excited about the visible cue of the helper standing in the field you are ready to condition to gunfire.

Place your helper at a distance that your pup is comfortable retrieving  at and supply your helper with as soft a 22 blank as you can. Acorn blanks are great for this.

Have the helper move or make noise to get the puppy's attention and when the puppy is looking at the helper have the helper shoot once pointing the pistol away from the line and then throw the mark. Release the puppy to retrieve.

Now every time you shoot and throw the mark for the puppy you are conditioning him to expect to retrieve when you shoot. The gunfire becomes a signal that great things are happening.

As the puppy grows expose him to shot gun fire first at a distance then move gradually closer. Don't be in a hurry to shoot next to your pup.

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