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Dogs gunshy after being shot

We have two yellow labs, about a year and a half old. We shot over them a few times when they were about 7 - 9 months old. When they were about 15 months old, they got out of our back yard, and when we found them, the vet said they had both been shot with a .22. However, we have been trying to train them to retreive, and when we use the blank retreiver gun, they both run back to the house. What would you suggest we do next?
Jeannie R.

You have, as you know, a major problem here. I assume you want to train them for hunting. So I will base my answer on this.
This is a difficult problem. You will need two people to train with, one to hold and shoot the blank pistol and the other to be with dog. Start this at feeding time. You will be feeding them outside. Get their dog food ready in their pans. I would have one dog put up in the house in a crate, garage, etc. Only do this with one dog at a time. Have the dog on a long check cord to start with, you do not want her to be able to run away. If she shows any sign of doing this when gun is shot, have ahold of the rope and talk to her in a calm voice telling her everything is ok. You take food bowl, call the dog to you, and be happy and express this in your voice as you set the food bowl down. Have the gunner fire the pistol. Start with him a good distance away. Talk to the dog, tell her good dog. See the reaction. Continue each day and if the dog does not act scared move the gunner in a bit closer each time. This is not a quick process, but I have had it work with dogs that have had firecrackers thrown at them.
The reason you want to work them one at a time is that if one of the dogs showed any fear the other would react in the same manner. Please try this and let us know the response you get.
Kim Moses
Hunters Marsh Kennels

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