Housebreaking your Weimaraner…
Note: We don’t get many people that have issues at housebreaking their Weimaraner. Most follow our advice to the letter and get past the unpleasant stuff early, however, a few well-meaning individuals get into a situation. Here are the basics for those struggling……….
- Initially your puppy should have no unsupervised freedom. Letting them roam for a moment can result in an accident. All too soon they can form a very bad habit which becomes deeply ingrained and is tough to change.
- Remember they are concrete-thinking. Concrete-thinking meaning when they get an idea it is hard to change their way of thinking. This can work for you and against you in the training process.
We suggest you accomplish or approach the constant monitoring in several ways. For example, one way is the use of a crate. Whenever you cannot monitor them put them in the crate. The crate needs to be the appropriate size. Although many people want to have the large crate so their puppy has extra room this may prove a bad decision. The over-sized crate affords them room to sleep in one end and to set up a bathroom in one end.
Our best crate sizing advice is to keep the crate slightly larger than your pup until you have gotten them housebroken. Once housebroken, you can get them a larger crate allowing them extra room. Regardless of how you feel about the confined space, they are den comfortable. Historically, canines dig a very tight den for safety. In the same way, once you have them crate trained they can learn to not only accept their crate but love it. Many humans find this shocking. Especially those of us that suffer from claustrophobic tendencies. Here is another good point–do not put your fears, feelings, or thoughts on your puppy.
The Weimar (quite possibly more than other canines) is very human-like in their actions. Nevertheless, we need to remember they are not human and do not think as we do. They are, however, manipulative and can use our attitudes and feelings to their own benefit. Their agenda for the most part is to get the upper-paw in the house. In truth (like us humans) they want what they want when they want it. Too they are like children that never totally grow up. You have to be the leader and do what is best for them. Even though being the Alpha leader is important it is not a heavy-handed type of leadership. No matter what aspect of the training process you find yourself, the key is your relationship. You need a warm loving relationship but also they need to respect you. The right kind of relationship helps to foster compliance! The vast majority of the Weimaraners want to please those they love and respect.
So the question for those struggling with Housebreaking is where did I go wrong? Some might think their Weimar is not smart. Nothing could be further from the truth. Going potty in the house might be their preference. For those starting out it is more aptly how do I avoid the pitfalls? Here are the basics…
Puppy Monitoring 101
Nothing can be more tiring or trying than raising a young active Weimaraner pup. Getting it right up front will pay huge dividends down the road and save you a lot of grief in the short run. Therefore, rule #1 is Freedom is earned! Until freedom is earned they need to be monitored 24 X 7.
- Use the crate if you cannot watch them. This includes when you are talking on the phone, in the restroom, or involved in something that requires all or part of your attention.
- Always walk out to the yard to their area if they have one. Never pop them into the fenced yard without going with them. A lot can happen in a few moments. One thing that is almost certainly going to happen is they are going to want back in the house to be with you. Then they may squat and leave you unwanted treasures right at your door. This too can quickly become a habit with your Weimaraner.
- Don’t assume that because they just pooped and peed that they are safe to run free in the house. They still require supervision even though you just walked them. Amazingly, they can go again within minutes or even moments of being out. Crate training can teach them how to hold their urges to potty long enough to run for the door. You know if your puppy can sleep for hours in the crate and it is not soiled or wet that they have the ability to hold on for long enough to run to the door.
- Unless you know your pups signals (circling or stopping and looking for a spot to potty) don’t make the assumption you will know when they have to go. Some people write their pup doesn’t give them a warning.
- If your pup is calm enough and at a place where they can lay on a bed next to you while you type on the computer this might work. Some people tie the pup to their belt. Any method of keeping them close can help with the process. Even then, you might need to limit this kind of freedom. Freedom must be earned. If they pup gets off the bed and pees then they are not ready for the bed by your foot, or you are not attuned to your pup’s movements. Either way if they are having an accident in the house you are losing the battle.
- When guests are present your pup is more excited and your are distracted. You need to monitor them even more closely. Although it is cute to let them play and run free for all to watch it might not be a good choice. You also do not want them to get the idea than when company comes it is a good time to potty in the house. Likewise when visiting someone’s home there may be smells or scents that would cause them to want to relieve themselves and leave their scent too. The embarrassment and frustration is better avoided.
- If you have other dogs in your household or visiting this can lead to new challenges. For those that have an established dog resident any number of scenarios can happen. In some cases the puppy merely follows suit and trains up quickly. In other households, the puppy is distracted and becomes tough to housebreak. Crate training can be impossible if other dogs are running free and your pup is crated. Some of these things have to be figured out as you go and there is not one simple solution.
- Concrete-thinking Weimars remember–Yes, they remember the location where they went potty in the house. Even using the best cleaning enzyme based products to clean tile doesn’t mean they don’t remember the spot. We are speaking of the spot where they left you a deposit. It could be in the corner of the room, around the corner in the hallway, or on your newspaper. Quickly this can become the favored potty spot. This is yet another reason we don’t recommend having a room with a potty pad or papers. Beyond shredding the papers if given opportunity, they will run (given opportunity) for that favored location possibly forever. Or possibly, some will or sneak around in hope of using that spot. We cannot say it enough. These guys are not only smart and manipulative but also concrete-thinking. If a pattern starts or they get an idea it is hard to change directions.
- No matter what approach you take as with each step in training everyone in the household needs to agree to the agenda and follow it. Secondly, the housebreaking protocol requires: 1. Consistency 2. Clarity 3. Follow through. Until the pup is fully house trained you must continue on with the same process. If something is not working it is most likely human failure not the puppy. Sorry…..it is a fact!
What to do if you reach Week 16 and your pup is not housebroken?
This is not the norm and although you are most likely frustrated you need to do what it takes to win this battle now. Allowing accidents in the house will lead to other behavior issues. Beyond that it is unacceptable. The vast majority of Weim puppy owners report success within 1-3 weeks. Some take longer than others. By 12 week your pup should not be having accidents in the house. If they are you will have to at a minimum limit their freedom. You may well need to start the house training process over. We are sorry to report that it is more difficult to housebreak an older pup who has formed the habit of going in the house, however, not impossible.
- Don’t blame the pup! Something has gone awry in your environment, with your methods, or you didn’t follow through.
- It is best to start over at square one and win the housebreaking battle.
- This means no freedom until it is earned.
- This is where the tying the pup to you might prove beneficial in some situations. More often than not, you will need to resort to using the crate every time you cannot be attentive.
- Your eye will have to be on them all the time.
- You cannot afford the young Weimar the opportunity to pee on a newspaper or poop around the corner.
- Not following through at this point in time will result in a lifelong battle of the wills about where they can and will potty. Most likely even if you win the battle at this point in time, some may have on-going issues. For example, they may balk if it weather is bad outside and skulk around to find a private location inside the house to use.
In the process of gaining respect from your Weimaraner, housebreaking and crate training are the the first steps.