Teddy went for his first official bird training today with some of his littermates. He was doing great and then… the gun went off. While I had shot around him before, with some gunshy tendencies, today’s lesson made clear I’ve officially made him gunshy. Honey I broke the dog! (I’d share the vid but WordPress won’t let me share vid files).
It was kind of like what I imagine getting my first phone call from my son in jail will be like. He screwed up, but it’s my fault.
His other littermates also showed some good interest in birds, and one of them also was a little gunshy (he had not been exposed to cap shots since taken to new home 3 months ago). So it may be that these vizslas are just a little sensitive in general.
But clearly there’s work to do on that. Here’s my list:
– don’t take him hunting with me over the next month or so;
– I’ve downloaded a gunshot sound on my phone; play that every time before I feed him;
– play the gunshot sound when I reward him playing the “find the quail wing” in the backyard game, which he is really good at;
– turn up the volume on both as he becomes more comfortable with it;
– take him out and fire the shotgun from far away, with treats and chukar/quail wings.
Hopefully that approach will allow me to actually be able to hunt with him by the end of the season.
Another takeaway from the training is my personal discomfort with the treatment of the birds. I don’t like the idea of crippling something so it can be abused. Afterwards I made a point of asking for the dead birds so I could eat them, but admittedly I’m very conflicted about this. If the only way to train my dog is to torture a bunch of birds then I’m not sure I can go this training route. I’d rather just wait until Teddy matures up and learns in the wild.
We have another training in a couple of weeks, we’ll see how that goes.
Thoughts and/or cuffs to the head appreciated…