Spaniel Journal Home Page

your helper shoots the pistol from about 50 yards away. If the pup is so intent on the bird that he ignores the pistol, great! Gradually, move the helper closer until the gunner is next to you. This may take one lesson or ten. Don't rush it!

Training Equipment

If you don't have help, take pup out to a field. Let him run around and get 40 or 50 yards away. As pup is running around shoot the pistol - aimed behind you and towards the ground. If he startles, ignore him and just keep walking. The ideal situation is when pup learns that bang means bird. You want to toss the bumper or bird and shoot at the arc of the fall (to simulate an actual hunt situation). Walk around the field some more. Yell, "Hey, hey!", toss the bird and shoot the pistol. Repeat this until pup hears a shot and looks for a bird to fall.

After the pup is accustomed to the gun, a dummy launcher can be introduced. The launcher uses power loads. You use color-coded levels to launch the dummies different distances. There are different models, from the old pistol grip to hand-held pull type to the newer shotgun adapted launchers. The intense power of the launcher can cause injury if not properly used so I recommend the shotgun-adapted or pistol grip type of launcher for most trainers.

I have trained some pups who will back up (some will even lie down) as if to get away from you when they hear a shot. But, once the bird hits the ground, the pup will sit up and be ready to retrieve. These pups are startled by the shot but are so anxious to retrieve that they have to look to see what they are missing. This is a birdy pup and with plenty of birds he will forget all about the noise. Just take it slow. At each lesson, start shooting from a distance and gradually move closer until pup could care less about the gun.

Never shoot a shotgun directly behind pup, always next to him or in front and to the side. Shooting behind pup can deafen him from the muzzle blast or worse case, pup could jump out and you might shoot your dog by mistake. Never introduce your pup to the gun by taking him to the sporting clays range. Think about it. How would you feel if you were sitting quietly, minding your own business and all of a sudden shotguns started blasting away? Pup needs to learn that bang means bird. Not clay pigeons.

The Author, with a pup who has successfully been introduced to the gun.

Once pup is used to the .22, use a shotgun, again with a helper. Remember to start off about 50 yards away. Have the helper toss the bird and shoot at the bird as it reaches the arc. Pup will be so intent on the bird that he ignores the gunfire. As pup relates "bang" to bird, he will get excited about the gun and start looking for the bird.

If the pup becomes gun-shy you might be able to bring him around. As with most things, it's better not to get the problem than to try and solve it.

Some pups will relate just the sight of the shotgun as a bad thing. If this is the case you will have to slowly condition pup to learn that the gun won't hurt him. Lean the gun against a wall near the pups' kennel. Let pup sniff it and learn that the gun alone doesn't do anything. Leave the gun propped up by the kennel for as long as it takes for pup to ignore it. Then, with pup loose, pick up the gun and handle it, wipe it down with an oilcloth or just let it lie in your lap. As pup accepts this, then stand up. Next, take a walk and just carry the gun. Remember - don't coddle pup - simply take a walk with pup and carry the gun with you. Once pup accepts the gun, break the action (I use a pump since it makes a distinctive sound) and continue walking. As long as pup is tail-

Page 2

| Spaniel Journal | Next Page | Previous Page |

| Our Sponsors | The Bookshelf | Spaniel Resources | Letters | Photo Contest | Archives | Spaniel Journal |
John DeMott | Pamela O. Kadlec | Ted Gerken | Martin Deeley | Bob Sansom | Loretta Baughan |

Copyright © Spaniel Journal 2002, 2003 all rights reserved worldwide