It is important when gun conditioning a young dog to ensure that you start slow and gradually increase their exposure. Additionally, it is important to use a positive reinforcement approach when gun conditioning your pup – this includes providing lots of praise and treats when they show signs of progressing, as this will motivate them to keep going.
Begin by introducing your pup to the sound of gunfire in a safe, non-threatening environment such as outdoors in an open space with nothing nearby that could be damaged by the sound. Start with a very low volume by increasing the distance between you and the dog and gradually increasing the sound by closing the gap. At the same time, provide plenty of treats and verbal praise so that they associate the sound with treats and positive reinforcement. Make sure you do not rush the process – allow your pup plenty of time to become accustomed to the sound before increasing it further.
As your pup becomes more comfortable with the sound, you can take them for short walks outside where the volume may be higher (depending on where you live). Again, ensure that you are praising and treating them often for their progress during these outings. Once they are comfortable walking in areas where there will naturally be greater noise from gunfire, you can begin introducing dummy guns into your training sessions. Start with simply showing them a gun from a distance before slowly introducing them closer to it over time until they are comfortable enough for you to hold one while standing next to them (without actually firing it).
Gun conditioning a young pup requires patience, consistency, and most importantly – kindness! When done correctly (which includes allowing adequate rest periods between sessions), gun conditioning can provide countless benefits including improved obedience, confidence building, and better socialization. Allowing ample amounts of love throughout each session will also decrease fear-related behaviours so that your pup can gain an overall positive association with guns – which could prove invaluable if they ever end up in a potentially dangerous situation involving firearms!