Advice best heeded
The last thing any of us wants to be is a stumbling block to our pup’s development. We do everything in preparation; spend a small fortune. We study, research and find every area resource. The best Veterinarian is a must. Everyone in the pup’s life is vetted. Despite this plan, most of the behavioral problems on the path to maturity are caused by the well-meaning human. It is a sad fact. There is no one-size fits all situation guide book for the Weimaraner. It takes more than dog savvy; it takes a bit of a knack. Sometimes it takes some good fortune. Seriously, though, you can avoid many of the issues that haunt the Weimaraner and their owners. To be honest, most of the folks we know with this issue are non-hunters who didn’t introduce their Weimaraner to gunfire.
Annually our mailbox sees a flood of chat prior to the 4th of July. The impending holiday booms begin and all too many Weims shake and quiver; some become ill from the hubbub. They are wrapped in Thunder coats, shaking in the closet, and traumatized. It is a sad state of affair. At the same, it is a shocking truth that many Weims are unfazed by the loud sounds. Ask yourself what makes such a difference? We can find a clue among our gun enthusiast types. The last thing they want is a gun-shy hunting companion.
Avoiding This Pitfall
While loud sounds might be unnerving; they are not (in most cases) cause for fear. Our Weimaraner must be conditioned to ignore them, and they should feel safe. Steve Snell (of Gun Dog Supply) is a professional trainer. He says it this way.
All gun shy dogs are man made. While some dogs may be more prone to becoming gunshy, it is not a genetic flaw. Some dogs are more sensitive, and this can make them more “likely” to become gunshy. Even the boldest of pups can become gunshy if the introduction to the gun is not handled correctly.
Non-Hunters Take Note
Sound sensitivity is just as much a priority for a companion Weimaraner as for those that participate in Versatile Hunting. As we mentioned early, fireworks for many Weim are their undoing. We feel it behooves us all to try to avoid this scenario where fear rules.
At OwyheeStar, the pups have received exposure to loud sounds–much like you introduce gun fire. It was systematic, and the noise became a backdrop. Some pups are more sensitive than others; however, with conditioning,they too ignore loud sounds. While many you might get lucky and nothing bad happens by not heeding this advice; better safe than sorry is a terrific approach. OwyheeStar pup conditioning is only a foundation–not the end. Proceed with caution, and even if you are non-hunter think of how nice it would be to avoid the gut-wrenching fear situation. Therefore, once the pups have come home, it is important to continue this process. With all the things going on this little detail (regarding sound) can be forgotten. The non-hunter can take a cue from these tips and make the necessary adjustments. Steve Snell goes on to share how to help avoid causing the problem.
The following method works fine with pointers, flushers, and retrievers. While I start all my pups using these techniques, this method will work with any age dog that needs conditioning to guns and gunfire.
There are several things that you should NEVER, EVER do to a young dog.
- Never fire a gun around a dog to see IF he is gunshy
- Never take a dog to a Shooting Range to introduce gunfire
- Never take a dog “hunting” prior to the proper introduction to gunfire
- Never take a young dog “hunting” with an older dog for some “on the job training” prior to the proper introduction to gunfire
- Never fire a gun close to a young dog without proper introduction — keep him away from any kind target practice or random shooting
- Never allow your dog to be exposed to fireworks
- Never fire a gun close to a dog while feeding him (many folks do this but it does not make the proper association)
- Do your best to keep him indoors during major lightning and thunder storms
Many young dogs become gunshy from things that are out of the owners control or unknown to the owner. It’s best to get started on gunfire and noise introduction as soon as possible. I start mine the day they get to my house. Click Here to read more from Steve Snell.
What Can We Do?
We can agree on avoiding the medication needed scenario. So, you will want to condition your young Weimaraner to noise. In many cases, this means introducing gunfire using tried and true practices. As Steve mentions; however, there are times when things go awry–despite your best effort. One such time is during what some people refer to as a sudden fear period. We have also heard it called teenage-flakiness. We prefer to think of it as a transition period, where the pup is at more risk of developing an issue. It comes out of seemingly nowhere.
The commonplace suddenly freaks them out. The unexpected can be almost anything. For example, someone wearing a hat reaches towards them and spooks them. You console them, but from there on out they are a hot mess when they see a man in a hat–it would be funny if it wasn’t so frustrating. Just transfer this example to the Weimaraner that is startled by the sudden loud sound. You console them, and your heart goes out to them. Did you know that you probably just ingrained that fear? Absolutely! The most natural response is the worst response. You say what are you talking about?
Beyond conditioning your puppy on every level (exposure to people, touch, the car, waves, dogs, and sound), the second most important thing you must do is to be non-reactive. The poor baby is not going to serve the pup well on any level. Instead, move forward with no concern and stay calm. Get out of the situation gracefully and leave it behind. If you treat it like it is nothing, then your Weimaraner is going to see it as much less of a threat. By the way, this applies to crazy people encounters, out of control dog situations, and loud noises. You set the tone, and you are the stabilizing factor.
Posted on February 18, 2016, in Behavior & Training, Bringing home the Weimaraner, Companion Weimaraner, Dangers, Getting started with a Weim, Hot Topics, Hunt Info, Hunting Weims, Information and Education, Mailbox Topics, NAVHDA, OwyheeStar Weim, Owyheestar Weimaraner, OwyheeStar Weimaraner Puppy, OwyheeStar’s Succeeding with the Weimaraner, Puppies, Puppy Development, Puppy Information, Puppy Tips & Info, Raising Versatile Hunting Weims, VHDF and tagged Oregon OwyheeStar, OwyheeStar, OwyheeStar Weimaraner, Weimaraner. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.