As a puppy, the English Cocker Spaniel will go through hours of training to learn the basic commands and they will train for hunting. Puppies that are subjected to gunshots or other loud noises at a young age may become skittish around loud noises. When this happens, training the puppy for hunting is difficult. It may even become impossible to correct the gun shyness as the puppy grows older. Proper care of the puppy before and during training is essential. Following guidelines for training the puppy for hunting is vital to them not becoming scared and anxious around guns.
Introducing The Gun Too Early
If you introduce a shotgun blast to a puppy too early, it can result in unwanted behavior such as gun shyness. They may run away, crouch low to the ground or start barking uncontrollably. The fear of a shotgun blast does not only happen when they hear a gunshot, it can be caused by fireworks, pounding in an empty room that produces an echo, or unexpected noises from doors slamming loudly or cars backfiring. If this happens, you can take steps to correct the problem but it does take time.
If you are training for hunting and think the puppy is ready for the introduction to the gun, you need to follow steps to ease the dog up to the sound. If you were to take the puppy out in a field and make them stand next to you and fire the gun, this could scare them. You need to introduce gunshot at a distance. As the dog learns to accept the sound, you can gradually move closer to the sound. This will allow the dog to become used to the sound they are hearing. This is vital for any dog that is training for hunting.
Using Common Sense
Many hunters use some forms of earplugs to deaden the sound of the gun blast. If you consider this when training the puppy, you will avoid the problems associated with gun shyness. The puppy's ears are more sensitive than a human's ear. They hear things we cannot. For this reason, loud sounds that they do not expect or have never heard before can result is shyness to the sound. They hear the sound twice as loud as what we do. For this reason, gun blasts need to be introduced at a distance to start.
Correcting The Problem
Correcting the problem will require some time. You need to keep the dog in an area away from where the gun is being fired. The dog will acknowledge the sound, but you can reassure the dog it is okay. Over time, you can move closer to the sound, reassuring the dog every time that it is okay and offer them a reward. As the sounds moves even closer, some professionals say you can offer something to the dog that comes from the area of the sound, like water. This will help the dog learn that the sound is not bad and being close to the sound can have rewards.