It had been almost a year since I had a dog; Lola died last January. So when I noticed the puppies needed adopting at the animal shelter, it was a no-brainer to take one home. Clover is a mutt from a litter of eight and the smallest of the bunch. She had the best personality and the cutest white-tipped tail. But Clover is gun-shy, and I’m at my wit’s end.
She freaked out so much on New Year’s Eve over the fireworks, that she huddled under my bed shaking and I couldn’t get her out for an hour. After that, I left her home when I drove to the outdoor shooting area here in the middle of nowhere Wyoming to get in some trigger time.
Clover hates being left home alone; she cries when I leave her. So I decided to take her with me to the range the next time, thinking she would be OK knowing I was making the noise. I left her in my Jeep while I was shooting with a window down so she could see me and get some cold, fresh, winter Wyoming air. When I was done and took my ear lugs out, I could hear her whining in Jeep. Sure enough, she was huddled on the floor on the passenger side shaking like a leaf.
I cuddled her and tried to get her to crawl up onto the seat so she could look out the window, but she wasn’t interested. It took almost an hour again to get her to calm down and stop shaking.
This is a smart dog. Clover was house broken in only one month of having her as a nine-week old puppy. She does all the standard “sit” and “stay” commands. She also knows “down” and “load up” (get into the Jeep.) But I have never had a dog that loses it this much over loud sounds.
It’s not a deal breaker, and I love this dog, she’s not going anywhere. But I’m not a dog trainer and I’ve tried the few tricks I could find on the internet. Most tips are for hunting dogs, but Clover isn’t going to hunt. She’s a family dog, so introducing “birds” seems pointless.
One suggestion: make the noise first (gunshot) then giving your dog something she likes, like a favorite toy or treat. I tried this. I shot my gun ONCE, walked back to the Jeep to my cowering and shaking pup and immediately gave her the dog jerky she loves.
She grabbed it from my hand but didn’t eat it. She dropped it on the floor mat of the Jeep, stared at me, and looked forlorn while very obviously still shaking. I tried it again with the same results. Nothing is taking and at this point, I feel a little cruel trying to force her to accept loud noises like gunshots.
Clover and I may have to compromise. I’ll let her ride with me to run errands and get groceries, but she’ll have to stay home when I go shooting. Unless there are any other non-hunting type suggestions I could try. I don’t really want to put my dog through this much longer. I would rather have a happy puppy, but I’d also love to bring her with me wherever I go too – that includes when I go for a quick trip to shoot a few rounds.