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Weimaraners are versatile hunting dogs. What does that mean? It means they can hunt upland game as well as water retrieve. They can also track–which means follow a scent. They can be used in many different settings because the breed as a whole has been developed to be an all-purpose hunter. The are not a do-all breed, even though that was the intention. Nevertheless, they have many abilities and can be trained to function in all aspects of hunting.
That almost sounds like double-talk——they were developed to be an all-purpose breed but are not a do-all breed. Many will function in various venues, however, some will excel in one or other areas. Not every Weim has the same natural abilities. This is why we test our Weimaraners in NAVHDA and VHDF. The ability to discover their natural abilities at a younger age helps us to decide what mating would be a good choice. A more balanced approach seems to get better results for everyone.
Much of the Weimaraners success is dependent upon: 1. Good breeding practices. 2. The correct early socialization. 3. The right approach to raising them. Without all of this working together they will never reach their full potential.
Note: These three elements also tend to make a better Weimaraner pet. Nevertheless, a person doesn’t have to get everything perfect. Really folks this is just about bonding and relationship and working from that aspect. If you over-train or over-think this situation you can create issues that will lead to bad behavior. In truth, the few failures we have seen have been more related to over-training and pushing a pup too hard than being lackadaisical. Yes, it is important to be consistent and on top of things but keeping things just simple is the best approach. The people who do this often excel beyond their wildest dreams.
What about Weims and swimming? Weimaraners have webbed feet or webbing between their toes. Not every Weim takes naturally to the water. Some Versatile Hunt Test Judges site a Weims disinterest in swimming and searching as the two reasons for lower breed scores. Our solution is early imprinting and exposure.
Early imprinting and exposure is only the starting point. Then these experiences need to carry through and continue as part of your training process. Weims are concrete-thinkers (we know we keep saying that but it so basic to who they are and what you can accomplish with them). Keeping their interest alive is important. Make it a point to return to a learned skill (such as swimming) to keep that skill alive and fresh. Revisiting their gained experiences is vital to keeping them balanced and feeling fresh.
Weims lose interest quickly. This is because they are super smart. The trainer says do this 30-40 times we say do it 10 times. Then stop and go back to something else they learned before. Then have fun together. Your training results will be more lasting and a result in a deeper bond. Ultimately the deeper bond is the reason the Weimaraner performs. Pleasing their beloved human is important to them.
At OwyheeStar we start our pups in the water whenever possible. We believe each experience imprints upon their heart the basic ability. Or in some pups it opens up that natural gifting or propensity to swim. We are yet to find a pup that doesn’t swim when they are given the opportunity. All can swim and can learn to love to swim.
With a Weimaraner it is never more important than with the water to keep a skill alive and fun. Weims can love something today and when left to wane some will lose interest. Cliff, as a hunt trainer, has at times discovered to his chagrin that a water retrieving Weim will lose interest when the next thrill comes along. So, maybe you cannot keep them out of the water and suddenly they discover birds. Then it is all about the birds.
Back to that concrete-thinking thing they do–whatever the focus that is what they are on at this point in time. You can see whether you are training a pet or hunting companion it is important to work to stretch their interests. It is important to expose them to various stimulus. If you want a Weimaraner to love swimming it has to be incorporated into their life in such a way that it becomes a part of their lifestyle.
We recommend keeping them in water on a regular basis once you start. Some are going to love the water more than others. Some are natural water dogs. Really there is no exact formula. If you are patient and keep working with water we are convinced your Weim can swim too. Recently Carrie and Tyler reported that Wellie was a natural swimmer. This is great because Tyler is passionate about duck hunting. Here is Wellington …..
For those of you interested in Weimaraners and Weims that swim, Cliff prepared a short tutorial some time ago that might be helpful….
With all training (and your Weimaraner) it is best to try one approach and stick with that for a bit. If you change what you are doing too much it gets more confusing. So we recommend you don’t mix up the process. For example: A lot of people try so many things to curb puppy biting that nothing works. In fact, if you do one thing very well it will most likely work. Cliff has a technique that has been proven fail-proof when executed correctly, consistently, and solely. Again, it is back to the way a Weimaraner thinks and trains. So, reading all this information is great but you need to know your style and pick a route to follow. Keep it simple and build. Then get flexible and weave new things into the program.
We are getting an increased number of reports that people’s OwyheeStar puppies are swimming and becoming water retrievers. In our opinion, it is important to keep that love of retrieving alive. Make it a priority to have a fun retrieving every day. Then work them into the water as a game. It depends upon your type of water (stream, pond, lake, pool, or whatever how you will work in the water. If you have shallows it is fun to start them retrieving in the shallows. Then you can edge the dummy just beyond their reach and they will often take their first stroke and get it. Then you are on your way. Many of our Weims can swim for a very long time and enjoy it!
Recently, Blue has taken to the water with new zeal. (See Blue pictured below)
Dusty is also into the water as you can see…..At first (2 years ago) he was somewhat reluctant because we didn’t start him swimming when he was a pup. Dash was always an avid swimmer so one of his jobs was showing the other Weims how to swim. It was Dash that showed Dusty the ropes of how to swim and now he is as proficient as Dash. Unfortunately Dash passed over the rainbow bridge a few months ago.
When you are training a new comer to the water it helps to have an experienced swimmer but Weims don’t always swim just because the other one is doing it. Once they take off most get the idea very quickly though and soon it becomes a passion. There is probably no better exercise for your Weimaraner young or old. Swimming builds those muscles that will improve joint and hip conditions. It also improves cardiovascular. For the first year this is the best possible exercise your young Weim can take up.
Not only for building muscle and cardiovascular health but for other reasons too. One being it doesn’t damage the soft bones and joints that are flexible to allow for growth. Another reason is it will exhaust your pup and they will be ready to settle in for the evening.
Regardless of your plans–hunter or non-hunter/water fowl enthusiast or not–swimming will improve your Weimaraner’s health and endurance. While do all of this it will tire them out and make your evenings quite enjoyable. We are sure if you start off with the plan to get your Weim in the water you can succeed. Patience and commitment to making the water experience fun will go a long ways towards achieving your goals.