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wagging happy, praise him and tell him what a good boy he is! This could take weeks so don't rush it. Pup needs to accept the gun as just an extension of your body.

When pup accepts the gun, then you start all over making noise. Walk with pup and clap your hands. At first, clap softly, then louder talking to him and praising him as long as he's not cowering or showing fear. If he reacts by cowering do not comfort him. If you make a fuss over him he will learn that cowering gets attention. Always relate the noise with good things - praise, food, or birds. If the pup accepts the hand clapping, then move on to the feed pans, then work with the starter pistol, and finally, the shotgun.

"The key to introducing your pup to the gun is taking each progression one step at a time."

There are audio tape programs to help get pup over gun-shyness. If the methods outlined above doesn't work, check into the tapes. If a pup becomes gun-shy when previously there wasn't a problem, consider thunder and lightening as the source of the problem. If pup is near by when a tree or his kennel gets hit by lightening he will obviously be leery of loud bangs. There are also audio tapes to resolve thunder storm fears. One source for noise-shy tapes is Starfire Systems in Warrenton, Virginia.

The key to introducing your pup to the gun is taking each progression one step at a time. Don't rush the process and always be aware of where your pup is in relation to the gun. One incident of shooting behind your pup can deafen him from the muzzle blast. Best case scenario is having pup sit a little ways away from you, off to one side. On your first hunt together, take a friend and let him or her shoot your birds for you. This will allow you to handle your puppy and make sure his introduction to the gun and the hunt is a positive experience.

Pamela O. Kadlec is a professional trainer who specializes in training Boykin spaniels for both retriever and upland work. For more on spaniel training, check out her new book, Retriever Training for Spaniels, available through Just Ducky Publishing.

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