Advice please - gun shy dog being stressed by bird scarer

Hi, our white shepherd doesn’t like loud noises, especially guns, not an issue as we don’t hunt…but one of our neighbours has an automated bird scarer, the sort that sounds like a gun shot…the dog is now in a permenant state of stress, if needed we’ll go to the vet, but I was wondering if anyone has advice on how we can de-sensatize our dog so that he can relax.

Is there a “feliway” for dogs or any other advise. He has never been hurt by any loud noise or been badly treated, had him from a pup… But he is seriously unhappy at the moment

Our rescue dog Maxi, a bichon frisee/caniche/fox terrier/I don't know what is scared s**tless of shotguns & flies?? we have tried everything but now accept that at 8 years of age she won't change. We therefor try to keep her in if the chasse is about & kill any flies that enter the house.

The upside is that she is the most gentle & obedient friend one could want, ![](upload://nE4IVTnSPRxLkhdquKGBeNeB2ta.jpg) & guards my guitars against all would be thiefs

Yes, he has to be at least 8 month old to cop with sudden noise of this kind, otherwise it would make more damage then good and he may run away. Tennisball on the house wall is a real good idea. He is a large dog, so has naturally enough self-confidence. He is just not used to it.

OK Liz, Fine about the DAP collar, but I think they need to be replaced monthly. Not sure of this.

Base lots of your work outside, and if viable use the tennis ball inside also. Roll it across the floor, or keep it in a pocket and give it to him when there is a noise. The problem is, however, that bird scarers go off at quite frequent intervals.

We are having some success when outside with tennis balls and distraction, but since he is still getting stressed inside and food is not a great driver for him, we have a DAP colar on order from the vets, and collect this tomorrow. We will then try working with his overall reactions to sudden loud noises…which is a tad embarrissing for a large dog. Having said that his overall temperment is wonderful and he is great with our other animals. I also know our neighbours have young valuable arable crops in and need to scare the crows off…hoefully they will not need to continue this once they have established, but if they do we need to work with Clouseau to help him overcome this

There are some fundamental problems with this approach, which is the same as that encountered by unenlightened game keepers. They used to take puppies on shoots at an early age with older dogs, and which often made the dog gun shy. See for example Col Hutchinson's book 'Dog Breaking' which, despite its title was one of the earliest works on what we now call modern dog training. See also Konrad Most's work. He trained war dogs for the German army during the second world war . More recently, the work of Giles Testard here in France argues for a gradual approach to gun shyness.

Firstly , you are taking the dog off its own turf, adding to possible stress. Secondly, by starting with none gun noises you are getting the dog used to loud noises in general.

Also, different types of noise have different qualities. For example a shot gun is a bang, a rifle or .22 blank is a crack. Things should be done by progression, in an environment where the dog feels secure.

You train him to get used if you take him as close as possible to where these "gunshots" and each time you talk and give him a cookie. After 10 times it should be over. It is just because he does not know what is going on, not fear. Brain is right and there is nothing else you can do, as the neighbor will have his reasons for installing such thing.

Good point Annie. Both the police and the army use tennis balls as a reward. Spaniels in general will be happy with one rather than a food treat. Hence my comment about a retrieve as a reward.Trouble with food treats, especially with Labs, is that they can come to see you as a walking buffet.

Val, a comment on hose pipes. My black lab Fen adores water, lakes, ponds, rivers. However, when he is in kennels, and I am using a hose, he runs into his sleeping area and hides away. A hose is often used in situations where two dogs are fighting, but not in our kennels, it is too well managed; although there is some potential for friction if one of the females is on heat.

Thank you for the comments about Fleur. She is at her best when she is dirty :-)

Yes, the first chapter on his theories on how dogs and we came together is interesting.

Good point Alan, by chatting up butchers who buy direct from slaughterhouses, which too few do, you can get proper offal including uncleaned stomachs. They are a good chew, brilliant for teeth and probably cut into chunks and dried a bit would make excellent training treats.

Fleur is a smasher!

Good luck Liz! The reward doesnt have to be food, Our young Belgian couldn't care less about titbits but toys........or a cuddle, now you're talking!!!! Keep us up to date, it is always good to hear how they progress.

Pretty girl!!

Re Pavlov, Brian, as you know no theory is flawless, just take what works for you. Concerning Lorenz, I have only read 'Man meets dog'.

Liz, do you also give your dog the contents of the lamb's stomach? O for the days when I could get uncleaned beef paunches.

Back to the original issue, sometimes there is no identifiable cause, just the dog's personality. Our springer, Fleur, was bred by us from a dam and sire that were both field trial winners, yet she was gun shy. Training as outlined above, coupled as Brian says,with maturity, has resulted in her being an excellent working spaniel who is also a field trial award winner. Picture attached.

He has marrow bones, chopped raw veg, eggs as well as a variety of meats, offal and bones and when we have a lamb slaughtered he gets the offal, so he does get a good diet which he enjoys he is healthier on this diet than on either dried or tinned food. We are starting the reward training today…

Rawhide chews, the small ones, they also clean teeth. A raw food diet alone doesn't do the teeth so you are short cutting. In nature all canines scavenge as well as hunt and are not total carnivores, so no worries about a few rewards and treats.

As to Pavlovian dogs, well that is a rather many times discredited behaviourialism theory and Lorenz was using animals, particularly birds such as crows, to model human behaviour. My German shepherd was afraid of a few things when he was young, low flying fighter planes had him on his belly and whining. Now when the occasional ones go over he ignores them. They are lower and louder than the ones where we lived when he was little. In short, help him grow out of it.

He is no chasse dog and we have had him since he was a pup…he has never been badly treated but he has always hated the sound of guns, usually not an issue as we don’t allow hunting on our land, he doesn’t like thunder storms either… However this hasn’t been too bad as he usually settles with reassurance, But the bird scarer is an issue as it goes off several times an hour, and random times and he is getting seriously stressed. I was wondering about the phermamone collar, but we will try rewards, trouble is the noise is random and not predictable… He doesn’t get biscuits as we feed him a raw food diet, however we will keep back some to use as treats…it.s just unless we start making a noise he hates, it will be difficult to try and work this through effectively. We simply want to help him as he is a gentle chap…and the bird scarer is still going off at nearly midnight

Just re read your last post. Firstly french chasse dog = no training or a badly used electric collar.

Secondly, you need to start the training prior to the chasse or a thunder storm, so that the dog is starting to get use to the noise.

Will try the reward, since he is on a RAW diet, which he loves, this shouldn’t be too hard, will report back.

When in doubt with training an animal remember Pavlov and Konrad Lorenze!

Excellent advice, gents, and as you both seem to have success using the same method I'm going to try with my ta'caxxa next time there is the chasse or a thunder storm. She's a hunting dog but from the SPCA so we're unsure of her puppyhood (she was 14 months when they found her) and she is completely petrified of both loud noises and hose pipes, so i dread to think what 'training' she may have gone through. I will definitely try the treat reward, if I can stop her shaking long enough first. I think there's a storm due on Saturday...

Poor boy! My german shepherd was the same, I went the same route as Brian, it worked. She soon associated the noise with a biscuit! It takes a while but is better, I think, than pills.