All gun-shy dogs are created by humans. It is not a genetic fault that certain dogs are more prone to getting gunshy. Some dogs are more sensitive than others, and as a result, they are more "prone" to being gun shy. If the introduction to the gun is not handled properly, even the bravest of pups can become gun-shy.
With pointers, flushers, and retrievers, the following strategy works perfectly. While I start all of my puppies with these tactics, this method can be used with any dog of any age who has to be exposed to guns and firing.
You should never, ever do the following things to a young dog.
*Never test a dog's gun phobia by firing a gun around him.
*Never take a dog to a shooting range to expose him to gunshots.
*Never take a dog "hunting" before introducing it to gunfire properly.
*Never take a young dog "hunting" with an experienced dog for "on-the-job training" before introducing them to gunshots properly.
*Never discharge a gun near a young dog without first introducing him to it, and keep him away from any target practice or random firing.
*Allowing your dog to be exposed to fireworks is never a good idea.
*When feeding a dog, never shoot a rifle close to him (many folks do this but it does not make the proper association)
*When there's a lot of lightning and thunder, try to keep him indoors.
Many young puppies develop fearful of things that are out of their control or that they are unaware of. It's best to start introducing gunfire and noise as soon as possible. Mine begins the day they arrive at my house.
Considering the Gun as a Good Thing
Many dogs who become gun shy are terrified not just of the sound of the gun, but also of the sight of it. This happens when a dog sees a pistol for the first time and hears it for the first time. When you take your shotgun out of its case, he puts two and two together and makes a break for it.
My young canines should be exposed to weapons on a frequent basis as part of their training. This is an excellent time to do it at feeding time.
I don't like leaving my firearms lying about because I have young children. I use an ancient Daisy "Pop" gun instead of a genuine shotgun. It has the appearance of a shotgun, and it even emits a satisfying pop when I cock and fire it. I take one with me on field walks and during feeding time.
This enables my puppy to SEE a gun in a good light and accept it as a normal part of his life.
If you live in a neighborhood, you should let your neighbors know what you're up to — there's nothing worse than being the crazy guy next door with what "looks" like a shotgun in his back yard.