Yesterday our comment about not selecting a harness (unless it was a certain type–the one that fastens at the front) caused a whirlwind of activity. The reason for the comment was that the ultimate goal always needs to be obedience. This must start with the basics.
Unfortunately most Weims learn the basic commands but still want to manipulate, control, and get the upper paw. They will sit, come, roll over, play dead, and do any number of things but resist coming under your complete will.
You take the Weimaraner for a walk, but they pull you down the road. When facing this dilemma, even the young and strong are challenged. In an effort to find a solution to the problem many turn to head halters or harnesses. While these gadgets do help maintain control while the Weimaraner is wearing them, they rarely cause behavior changes. Regardless, for some they serve as an answer to a problem they are facing and get them through. Sometimes while providing a short term solution these devices actually fuel the problem. The Weimaraner pulls more and cannot be maintained at all on a flat collar. Ultimately, you want the Weim to be able to walk on a flat collar beside you with the lead being loose.
Nevertheless, if early control is not gained then by the time the Weimaraner is a year old serious issues usually arise. Now at this point in time, most of us could not control a Weimaraner without using corrective methods. Changing behavior becomes more difficult as they get older, and by the time they are three years old some consider it impossible.
Before we move forward, we want to mention one other reason people move to a harness. Many dogs wearing a flat collar, the Weimaraner included, will choke and cough and carry on when you try to pull them along side. It is difficult to know for sure how much of this is drama and how much is actually choking. The smallest inconvenience or discomfort can set the Weimaraner on the stage to perform. We certainly do not recommend choking a puppy or inflicting pain to get compliance. Minor corrections can work wonders but should be done in natural ways that get quick results. Those ways should simulate the mother’s corrections.
However, we do not recommend one of the mother’s techniques to get compliance even though some trainers and dog owners use this technique. That technique we are thinking of is when you would have to bite your pup to get compliance. Stooping to the level of a dog seems a bit extreme to us.
Unfortunately, for a lot of folks the the Weimaraner needing correction is a tear jerker. Corrections have to be made at times, but they can be made in dignified ways that get quick results. When done in this manner and early in the process, then there is a good chance you will not have to do more serious corrections later. What we are after is gaining respect and getting compliance. The earlier this happens then the better. It is fine to cajole them into obedience, but that will only take you so far with the Weimaraner.
If you are wondering how important breaking the habit of pulling on the lead might be, then consider the implications. As we have stated, this can lead to all kinds of non-compliance, which can escalate into a much larger issue. These grand issues are often the cause of paying big money for a dog trainer. With the Weimaraner issues are not always so easily turned around. Many times they become relational and environmental. The Weimaraner leaves their home and behaves like a model citizen but returns to very soon resume the same behavior issue. In most cases, training is more for the human counterpart than for the dog.
Before we move on we want to bring up another point here about the Weimaraner and early behavior issues. Within the litter, there is a pecking order. This is their view of how things work. Many talk about being the Alpha Dog in the pack, but what about the other humans in the family unit? Often one of the persons within the household becomes a target. This can take many forms but is often mouthing, biting, nipping, jumping up, or backing a person into a corner. All the while the person in the household who is deemed in command gets all the respect. It is best not to take this personal or overreact if you are the one not getting the respect. This is the Weimaraner being a Weim and exploiting any weakness within the family structure. This behavior is often about pecking order priority; and sometimes to a lesser degree about extreme play. Two thoughts on this come to mind. 1. The human target needs to make appropriate changes in order to overcome to their weaknesses. 2. Getting control or compliance in the area of the leash is primary to earning the Weim’s respect and compliance.
If you are reading this blog and pondering all the elements it may see a bit overwhelming, but keep in mind that small steps forward yield big results. This one principle of gaining compliance on the lead or leash will produce compliance in other areas. It will also help prevent larger issues looming in the background. As we stated earlier, we don’t think you should be choking your Weim to get compliance on the leash. Below is a video from the Dog Father on this topic. We have used his style of the command collar with excellent results. There again, using it correctly and consistently is a must to get the proper outcome. Furthermore, using the collar early in the process before hormones take hold can be a great asset to your training program.
Here is the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e629TyfsG6o
Thank you for your investment in your OwyheeStar Weimaraner, and for taking time to read our blog. We are honored to travel along with so many on a very special journey where the Weimaraner becomes a well behaved respectful companion.