Effect of guns on dogs hearing.

Discussion in 'Cast & Blast' started by Panhandle, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    I have a 6 month old German Shepard. I like taking my .45 up with me hiking and target shooting. My question is, does a loud gun like a .45 impact or erode a dog's hearing. I invested a lot of money in this guy some I'm extra sensetive about keeping him healthy. Other question: What's the best way to acclimate a puppy to guns without scaring making them forever fearful of them? Thanks.
     
  2. Kaari White

    Kaari White Active Member

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    It could have an effect on his hearing over the course of his lifetime. I wouldn't worry about it.

    To get your dog used to gunshot, start by feeding him out of a metal bowl. When its feeding time, bang it loudly a few times and get excited about it. If he looks worried at all, continue with that for a few days until he's not bothered with it. Step two- do something fun like have him fetch a ball while someone shoots a gun 250 yards away. Don't pay the shooter any attention. Gradually reduce the distance over a few days until he doesn't pay any attention at all. Then, start shooting the gun yourself at a distance and close the gap again (won't take more than 1 session). After that, he should be good to go. The key is that early on you shouldn't ever surprise your dog with gun fire- it should just be background noise.

    I see people all the time at gun ranges bringing their pups around to acclimate them to gun fire. It seems less like training and more like testing to me and I don't recommend it. It could be sensory overload to the puppy and cause more harm than good.
     
  3. Michael Thompson

    Michael Thompson the flavor of BADFISH

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    iagree

    what works better than that is instead of playing with a ball or something fun, sit down with a tub of vanilla ice cream and let the pup lick it off the spoon while the shooting is going on. there isnt a birddog alive that wouldn't trade his masters shotgun for a spoonful of cold vanilla. this has worked on two rescue dogs that most people thought were incurably gun shy.

    same thing applys for skittish dogs on the fourth of july. loud bangs =decadent treats.

    as far as hearing damage is concerned I wouldnt worry about it. birddogs go deaf because they are constantly in front of the gun, and I would hope you keep your pup behind you with the rest of the non shooters during target practice.
     
  4. Split Bamboo

    Split Bamboo Member

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    It depends on where the impact takes place. :rofl:
     
  5. jcnewbie

    jcnewbie Member

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    Pan:
    You’re probably going to get a lot of different opinions here….in fact I guarantee that you will – so take your pick.

    In my experience (and therefore my opinion), waterfowl dogs are more susceptible to gunfire induced hearing loss because they are much closer to the muzzle blast, ie. in a blind or boat/blind.

    Upland dogs are generally much further away and therefore do not experience the same level of sound shock to their ears – with the possible exception of Pointers which can require you to walk up to them and “flush” the birds yourself and shoot over the dogs head or directly beside them.

    We need to bear in mind that dogs can have 5-6 times the hearing acuity of humans and also in different frequencies.

    Most hard-hunted waterfowl dogs that I know are hearing impaired by the age of 5 or 6 (human years) and many are stone-deaf by age 8-10. The sad fact is that we as humans are normally not aware of the damage to a dogs hearing because they have such acute noses and other senses that tend to compensate – just like humans that read lips (and body language) – and they are so intense in their desire to please that we just don’t even notice they’re deaf as a post.

    As for training, I would start with an air pistol or air rifle if you have one and/or 22 shorts or CB caps or perhaps even a “starter pistol.” I’ve known some that use a kids cap pistol (love the smell of that powder in caps….”in the morning!”).

    Of course there are some dogs that never get used to loud bangs – but I think that may have more to do with wrong and/or early over-exposure than anything else.

    I believe the single most important element in any dog training is to be sure that YOU are the “Pack leader,” the “Alpha Male,” and they will then trust you implicitly & without question. With that power of course, comes “Responsibility”….responsibility to provide food, water & adequate shelter, love & affection as well as discipline when required….and not to ruin their ears……….with too many missed shots!:ray1:

    Enjoy your pup!

    Jc:)
     
  6. hap

    hap Member

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    With a long string of deaf gun dogs behind me, yeah, it hurts their ears...
     
  7. martyg

    martyg Active Member

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    I would agree.

    One observation that I have made is that it seems that every year 12 gauge loads get quieter and quieter. I don't know what is going on, but I'll bet that in another 25 years they be almost silent.
     
  8. hap

    hap Member

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    Did you say something? ;)

    Two old guys at the range...

    First one asks "What time you got?"

    "Nine-thirty."

    "Me too, let's go have a beer."
     
  9. Upton O

    Upton O Blind hog fisherman

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    JC explained it "spot on".

    I never understood why guys take their dogs to shooting ranges. It's hard on their ears, which are much more sensitive than humans, and the dogs don't get the benefit of ear plugs.
     
  10. bushwacker

    bushwacker Member

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    My experience has been that the less time you spend working with your bird dog, the worse his hearing become. By the end of the upland season his hearing is sharp as a tac. But sometime around mid-summer his hearing has deterioriated to the point that he doesn't hear anything you say. "Dexter you little bastard, get back here!" If you are in a public area, you find yourself spending a lot of time explaining to shocked onlookers that your dog is deaf.

    But seriously, if it's bad for your ears it's got to be bad for your dog.
     
  11. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    Obviously, I guess I should have phrased it differently and focused on my real question of how to introduce them to guns. A dog's hearing is vastly more acute than ours, so asking if it would harm their hearing is a pretty dumb question. Thanks for the training insights--very helpful, especially the pudding, or giving them sweets while the gun fires (conditioning).
     
  12. bushwacker

    bushwacker Member

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    Panhandle, I've had good success by using a .22 starting pistol. I started them on retreiving dummys, then introduced the sound of the gun shot when I threw out the dummy.
    The dogs never missed a beat. After getting them used to the sound of the .22, I went on to a 20 ga., then on to a 12 ga. Though I think a 20 makes about as much noise as a 12.

    My hunting partner had a bad experience with his new lab last year when went quail shooting. My two dogs and his lab were working an orchard when we began getting into birds. After a few shots, we realized the the lab had disappeared. It was near a highway and we were afraid he had paniced and ran out to the road. After considerable searching, and a ruined orchard hunt, we found the dog under the truck.

    I recommend the purchase of a starting pistol as a good start in training a dog to gun shots.
    They are blanks and not much louder than a firecracker. You can use them in places where you wouldn't want to be firing off a live round.

    Good Luck
     
  13. Upton O

    Upton O Blind hog fisherman

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    One other point, slightly off subject, I want to make on the guns/dogs hearing: ported guns have much louder blast signature. Dogs that are used to gun fire from standard barrels can become gun shy hunting in front of a ported gun. I speak from experience. Now I never use a ported gun in the field now except on dove hunts when there aren't any dogs present.
     

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