Bird Dogs & Training  |  07/03/2018

WARNING: Leave your Bird Dog Puppy at Home this 4th of July

Yes, I have written about the dangers of mixing July 4th festivities with a new bird dog puppy before. That’s because in the midst of the fun associated with the holiday weekend, it’s too easy to make a big mistake that will hurt your pup’s development into a bird dog. So whether you’re a new puppy owner or a long-time bird dog parent, a 4th of July refresher can help prevent a gunshy problem in your pup.
Avoid Fireworks
A fun family evening watching fireworks can seriously frighten a puppy (and even adult dogs) and create a fear of loud noises, and consequently gunshyness. While some puppies have come out unscathed from a surprise exposure to fireworks, I know too many bird dog owners who end up seeking the services of a professional dog trainer hoping to find a cure for a gunshy puppy. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Skip Parades
As a first-time bird dog owner I’d been coached to avoid fireworks, but parades caught me completely by surprise. At 11 weeks old, my German shorthaired pointer accompanied my family to a 4th of July parade in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. It was a beautiful day with lots of people and other dogs for socializing. It was a wonderful scenario until the local high school band started marching down the parade route led by the drum corps. Thankfully, I was aware of the potential risk to my future bird dog and reacted quickly enough to escape the parade before my puppy was frightened by the loud noises.   
Gunshyness is one of the most difficult problems to cure. Young bird dogs should be methodically introduced to gunfire in association with birds and a fun atmosphere. A step-by-step process helps prevent gunshyness, reinforces that a gunshot equates to a retrieve, and helps connect the dots through the entire process of what you’re expecting out of that pup as your new hunting companion. Any unexpected and/or extremely loud noise can short-circuit this entire process in an instant. Do yourself and your pup a favor this holiday weekend, leave him/her sleeping in their kennel at home.

Written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.