Gun Noise - When?


Not to be confused with Freestone
Looking for some advice on when and how to introduce Ruby to gun sound. Opinions seem to run the gamut in my searches so far, so I figured I'd solicit advice from a fly-fishing forum for the ultimate authority :). I was thinking about just driving out to Puyallup's Sportsman Club and, parked away from the range a bit with the windows closed, just have her listen to the noise and see how she responds -- yes/no? This is the best thread I found, but still does not offer much specifics.

A couple of the threads I read suggest having someone play retrieve with a dummy while someone else 50+ yards away fires off some rounds...basically have the pup occupied having fun and hear the noise as a secondary thing that is associated with fun stuff. Unfortunately I really don't have any place locally where I can do that. There are a couple of release sites within a reasonable drive...might be able to play that game there...with dog on long leash.

Would like to hear from those on the forum as to how you went about introducing your dog to gun noise and at what age (Ruby is is 9 weeks).


Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
Go to the Shooting Sportsman forum, they have tons of training stuff for hunting dogs. If I'm breaking some kind of forum rule with this referral, please let me know and I'll delete this immediately.
I was part of introducing my buddies pup to the gun - his pup was older then 9 weeks and he had her doing short marks with a white small bumper. When she was doing three of those in a row - he would would do two false retrieves - he wanted her to sit and introduced steadiness at a young age - he got to the point of doing marks of three or four and she would sit on half of the marks - this was a 10 min drill.
He then got a cap gun and had me walk 30 to 40 yds away, he would give me a hand signal and he would toss the bumper and I would shoot the cap guy away from her - she would go get the bumper and he worked her up from there - she was from very good lines and was very aggressive at chasing things right from the start - we both had a feeling she would have no trouble with the gun - but he did wait a while to into the gun to her.


Active Member
The first thing that you want to do is to buy a cap pistol - like a child's toy. With today's mentality about kids having exposure to anything that slightly resembles a gun that can be a challenge.

Next, and ideally once pup knows its basic commands of "sit" (and the dog should always sit before being fed and not released until told to do so), "come", and "no" take the dog outside at feeding time, every time. The dog sits, food bowl goes down, have someone fire the cap pistol at a distance and you release the dog. This way they come to associate a gun report with something positive.

For the first week or so do this with an assistant. You should focus your attention on the pup. Have them on a lead and have control of them until you release them. Note that this is a timing thing and a thing where you have to judge the pup's interest level and focus. There are times when you want to restrain the pup and there are times when the pup is going to be ready to bolt - at that point you can be a hardass and restrain the pup, or you can release them at the moment that they start to fidget, turning a negative into a positive. As the week closes get that gun report closer until you have the gun, provided you can also control the pup.

Starting the retrieving thing, reinforcing proper behavior,etc. - that is an entirely different conversation and needs to be executed indoors or in an enclosed area in the first few weeks.

And you want to strive that everything is a positive experience until they turn about 18 - 24 weeks, with the exception of messing the house or being destructive.

Bill - I think that you have my phone number. We typically train every day and you are welcome to come out, hang with us and do some puppy training. Give me a call if you want to go over anything.


Newb seeking wisdom
My pup started on live pigeons on the ground at 8 weeks.
We progressed to pigeons with flight feathers pulled, and the trainer tossed them in the air while I restrained the dog until they hit the ground (20yards?), she would then retrieve to me.
Then the 22 revolver came out with blanks(you can get really mild blanks at Home Depot for nail guns), toss the pigeon, dog focuses on bird in the air, and the blank gun goes off.
If the dog breaks focus, you're not ready to progress....If the dogs maintains focus on the bird and retrieves, you are now on your way and can move up in the intensity of the blanks.
Worked perfectly for us, hope you get the same result.

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
I let Hank "be a pup" and just worked on basic commands up to 4 months (I also made a lot of noise around him and worked on socialization . . . him seeing different places & things daily.). At 4 months we started serious work with live pigeons & focused on his prey drive for the next 2 months, including him finding, pointing, and chasing both homers & wild birds. At 6 months, he was introduced to gun fire, at which time I killed live pigeons over him with a .410. A couple weeks thereafter, he found, pointed, flushed and retrieved his first wild rooster; it's been nothing but good times & a great companion "coming in to his own" ever since (midway through his 2nd season - last year - he really put it all together and the rest is history). But we still work year-'round. Worked for us. Good luck.