I Broke My Dog

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…

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4 thoughts on “I Broke My Dog

  1. What a tough day. It sounds like you’ve got a level-headed approach to the matter, and with time and your guidance Teddy will be fine. I wonder if the quantity of gunfire at the training (I admit I’ve never been to one like that) might have freaked him out. Chukar or even quail hunting would rarely feature more than one or two guns in the same area and relatively few shots per hour (dove hunting would be another story). My two cents would be to do the de-sensitization stuff you’re doing, and work with him solo in the wild to create the kind of dog partner for the kind of hunting you want to do. I’d imagine a sensitive dog like Teddy would be overwhelmed at a big group training event. I know I would! (But then, I’m a bonafide misanthrope.)

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  2. Nobody has done more for people than misanthropes. Which they find very disappointing.
    It was a cap gun fired into the ground as he was chasing a chukar. He stopped mid-stride and looked around for me. The trainer seemed like a good guy and I’ll probably go back. He did say the viz are often more sensitive to sound and treatment so he wasn’t that surprised.
    Re the ll bean tech upland pants– do the bottoms make fwip fwip sounds when u walk? True to size? I’ve been using prana climbing pants with snake gaiters. Works pretty good but the pants are starting to fray.

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    • Sounds like Teddy’ll be fine with you as his guide. Pants: I haven’t noticed noise from the bottoms, and I’m pretty sensitive to that, being a misanthrope and all. I suppose teaching is my penance and my contribution, pitiful as it is. I have a student named Teddy, whom I wish could take a page of sensitivity from your Teddy.

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  3. We have a Lab we’re laying down the basics for, and a buddy of mine verified the loud-noise-while eating tactic. I slap two big books together, he slammed a dresser drawer. Pup didn’t seem too shy when the bf was checking to make sure the .22 was sighted in, so that was good. But we won’t know for sure for a while yet. He really seems to like his duck toys & retrieving them, but we haven’t gotten him on feathers or wings or anything yet.

    As far as viszlas go, I can vouch that they’re touchy. I worked at a boarding kennel for a few years, and of the handful of times I was ever bitten working with dozens of dogs, two were from two viszlas. One was while I was trying to bathe him, and the other was just when he was startled by a paddock gate that slammed shut.

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