Category Archives: Training
~Habits Good and Bad Take Hold Quickly
Habits form quickly–once a behavior (good or bad) starts it can soon become habitual. For example, the Weim can become an incessant barking machine. I swear they can bark at a cloud. Maybe it looks like a bird. Incessant by definition means unceasing or Continuing without interruption. Maybe that is an overstatement, but if you have that behavior ingrained, it will not seem an exaggeration.
Barking, digging, territorial behaviors, chewing on everything, and the list goes on–if you allow it in a small dose, it can become a thing. Us humans, often get duped and our efforts undermined.
To prevent that and other unwanted behaviors a person must be vigilant early on. It is not one and done thing either. The childlike tendencies often last past their third birthday with the occasional teenage behavior surfacing from time to time. I laugh at people who want this breed and expect them to be easy to manage. A lot can and should be accomplished in the first three months; however, you are not home free so to speak. At the same time—getting the basics done right up front will save you a lot of trouble.
Also consider that the Weimaraner who wants to rule their world can employ growling and snarling. They can withdraw and sulk. They have all kind of ways to get what they want–some are acceptable, others are not. One thing for sure–do not reward or excuse bad behavior.
Note: This is a repost of an article we have shared several times. Our pups are ready to acclimate to their new environment upon arrival. We recommend not over-thinking at the early stages.
- Be committed — Commitment to the process is primary. Training your pup will take time. Think of this as a journey (a road trip) with a destination in mind. Don’t set timelines; instead, take this adventure together. It will take as long as it takes for each achievement. Sometimes just when you think, you have arrived; your Weimaraner will hit a snag or transitional phase. There are many of these stages in the first couple of years. As with an adolescent, they can be going along well and suddenly regress. Please take this in stride it is nothing personal. The first occurrence could well be prior to week twelve. Stay calm and move ahead–this is how to avoid ingraining fear or some unwanted behavior.
- Keep your eye on the young puppy at all times—This is vitally important for at least the first 2-3 weeks, or until you have the housebreaking part accomplished. Use a crate, bag, or soft-side crate to confine the pup when you cannot be vigilant. The crate should not be too large. If it is more than they need they may select one end for a potty area.
- Be consistent–Do everything in the same manner! For example, the pup wakes up and stirs. At first, you would pick them up and carry them out to the area where you want them to go potty. Each time you see them circling or rousing from a nap go to the potty-area. If you use the bells hung at the door, then ring them as you go out the door. Soon they will be ringing the bells as a signal for you to open the door.
- Keep it simple — Although your pup can learn amazing things, it is best to do a few simple things and build upon those experiences. The process will unfold naturally if you allow it to do so; start with getting them to come. Although they all follow and come to us, it is different once they start to mature. Do the hallway exercise (5-7 retrieves each night). By using a hallway (with adjoining doors closed) there is nowhere for them to escape with the toy, ball, or dummy. Some people treat them when they bring the item to their hand. It is not necessary. The activity is a reward in and of itself. Have a couple of bumpers or toys (designated for this activity). Make it an event every day until you move to the yard because you have compliance.
- Keep it fun — Weimaraners are brilliant and learn quickly. A trainer might tell you to work for an hour and even a half hour doing one exercise every night, but we suggest ten minutes. Do it for ten minutes and then do something fun. This approach works for us! If your Weim pup loses interest, you lose ground in the training process.
- Remember it is about your relationship — No matter what you are doing it is important to remember that Weims are all about relationship. If they get their feelings hurt, things can go sour quickly. Your bonding experience is vital to the success of this relationship. Take time to think and see things from their perspective. You are the center of their world. They not only want to control you, but they want to own you. Weimaraners are the ultimate Velcro dog and must learn how to stay alone. Your relationship is a double-edged sword. They need a lot of time, attention, and affection. They also need to find ways to cope when you are absent. We recommend starting this process very early, or they will come to expect you will be there 24 X 7. Separation anxiety can be a huge issue in this breed.
- Be patient — When you go out to teach your pup a skill, make sure it is a learn-able task. Plan enough time to accomplish the task–but keep your training focused to ten to twenty minutes maximum. The short bursts of success are more effective than lengthy sessions. Your attitude and demeanor play into the equation too! If you are feeling stressed, forego training your Weimaraner. There are many methods of training. Nevertheless, choose one that enhances your bonding experience and one that creates a respectful environment for all concerned.
The best Weimaraner people are those that are natural leaders. Anytime you feel your relationship is stressed then you are going down the wrong road. The persons that are neither too strict nor too lenient are usually, the ones that excel. Regardless of what happens, it is always best to pro-active than to be reactive. Stay calm. Keep it simple. Get results. Plan little steps of learning and build upon them. Try our 7 steps to Success, and we believe you will be on the right path.
Wishing you fewer puppy bites and more puppy kisses
~ Shela and Cliff
~ Jan Magnuson has this to say–
I like Carol Lea Benjamin’s training books, I have not read them all but the ones I have I liked, they are trusty training manuals. I like Dr. Sophia Yin’s website- she has passed, however they continue to maintain her website; I went to training with her in person, she was amazing. Also, CanisMajor.com, Pam Young, and PerfectPaws.com.
These are not Weimar-specific, I recommend them to folks with all breeds. Having owned the Weimar and getting info from Shela and Cliff, I am sure you can tailor the training info to our breed with the knowledge you already have.
Best Regards~ Jan
Jan Magnuson SUNSTARAll-Breed Dog Training
P.O. Box 98072 Des Moines, WA 98198206 241 2908
We believe everyone begins with good intentions–some get into trouble. There are several ways to allow a problem to start with this concrete-thinking Weimaraner. We won’t list those here–we often pass out a sheet that talks about avoiding the pitfalls to our prospective clients–but no matter how you decide to proceed with your training, it is essential to get the basics accomplished.
Everything that you achieve requires you develop a special relationship where the Weimaraner wants to please you. Finally, remember this is a journey–it is about what you can accomplish together — one step at a time building upon tiny successes and that underlying relationship.
~ Our Score 112
Hi guys just wanted to drop a quick note. Me and Luna were first alternate and luckily got into the NA test yesterday.
We surprisingly got a prize 1 – 112 score! Wow. I’m still shocked but she did it all and we trained hard. Now just getting ready for hunting season.
Mike and Michelle
–The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA)
The Natural Ability Test is designed to evaluate the inherent natural abilities of young dogs and gain insight into their possible usefulness as versatile gun dogs. It rates seven important inherited abilities: nose, search, tracking, pointing, water, desire and cooperation. Dogs are eligible for a Natural Ability Test up until, and including, the day they reach 16 months of age. Dogs over 16 months may be run for evaluation only. Dogs over 16 months may only be run if space is available. No prize classification can be awarded the dog run for evaluation.
The Utility Preparatory Test measures the dogs’ development midway through their training toward the Utility Test. No previous testing required.The Utility Test evaluates trained dogs in water and field, before and after the shot, as finished versatile hunting companions as well as many other specific tasks. No previous testing required. The Invitational Test is our highest level of testing. Only those dogs that have achieved a Prize I in Utility are eligible. This limits the entry to exceptional animals who have demonstrated a high level of training and tests their skills in the advanced work.
Breeder Comment on Points Earned
The maximum possible score for a dog running in the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test is 112 Points. You must earn a minimum of 99 points to net a Prize One. Luna got a perfect score–we cannot tell you how difficult it is to achieve this goal. Honestly, it is even more remarkable with the Weimaraner–who can potential flake out at the wrong moment.
To Learn More about competing your Weimaraner with NAVHDA click here!
~We Are Figuring Things Out
(July 14, 2019)–We were so excited to pick up our puppy (who we have decided to call “Frida”) that I didn’t get to really tell you how thankful we are for you guys!
Frida initially was not a fan of the car or her crate, but after some quick cuddles on Chase’s lap, she settled right in and spent the rest of the ride in comfort.
Our first night went ok – she did great with potty training until I was too slow getting up this morning and found a sad, poopy puppy. Luckily, she loves baths!
We’re quite in love, the kids are all “taking turns” walking her around our yard and seeing which toys she favors.
We are so happy to have found you guys and are so thankful for this whole process.
I hope you are recovering from yesterday and get at least a little break!
Thank you again, Lauren, Chase, Henry, Emelia, Charlotte, and Frida
(July 14, 2019–after we responded)–Thank you for the advice! We’re open to any and all help!
Yes- and I totally agree! We need to condense her space in the kennel and one of us needs to be better about letting her out. She is in our living room, not bedroom, so she was vocal ALL night about being alone. Therefore making it sort of hard to tell the difference between sadness and needing a bathroom…We’ll keep working on it. She’s had no accidents otherwise.
We’re going to put something in the crate tonight to see if it helps. Otherwise, we’ll get something different and smaller for the time being.
I also may sleep in the room with her tonight to help.
Finally, we were in the car most of the day yesterday. (We got home at 7:30pm) So, hopefully, after a busy day today, she is much more tired!
(July 15, 2019)–A much better night! No accidents, quieter, and we found a blanket she loves so she’s happy staying in the crate. We also added a divider to make the crate smaller.
Thank you, Lauren, for graciously allowing us to post your experience. Something here could help another person who is struggling. We were so happy to learn you turned a corner–and had the much improved night. We think you are doing great–love to you and Frida.
~Summer Snow on Mt. Hood
Thought I’d share some of our fun so far this summer.
A few weeks ago we did some training on Mt. Hood— you have to work a little harder to find snow in the summer!
This is Loki peering into the cave at the subject he just found— he had to dig in to get his toy!
Yesterday (on the 4th of July) we had a chance to participate in our American Hero’s parade. It was by far the largest group of people we’ve been around— Loki just wanted to say “hi” to everyone along the route… not our best loose-leash heel haha.
After Hood, I decided to start training Loki to wear Rex Specs for super bright conditions… the first step is to introduce him to the frames without the lenses… I think he is less than impressed. But he gets lots of treats when he has them on!
Hope you and Cliff are doing well 🙂
-Erica (With Loki –Search and Rescue Training)
We are always amazed at your success–you are doing an excellent job with Loki. We loved the share from your work on Mt. Hood as well as the American Heroes Parade. The both of you make us proud.
It seems the Rex Specs probably seem like a punishment (Haha), but they are an excellent idea. Let us know how it comes along. I think it is like everything else you are doing with Loki–keep after it, and you will master it. He will learn to accept the goggles. I am positive. Anyhow you can tell Loki he is not the first OwyheeStar to don these goggles–click here.
Dear Readers–this is a repost of a previous blog. We are getting ready to swim the Bernie X Boone 2019 Litter–we wanted to share this essential information to those with the young Weimaraner.
Most of you know that we try to swim puppies–time and weather permitting. Above is a GoPro Video of a litter swim taken a couple of years ago. It gives you a different perspective. Some pups are excellent swimmers; others struggle a little. Nonetheless, we have never had a puppy fail to be able to swim. Does this mean they will naturally take to the water? No! If you expect them to jump and take off, you may be disappointed. It will most likely require work to get them into the water and swimming. This effort is work we hope you invest. We deem this an essential part of the puppy raising process.
The Why and the How
Over the years, we have written extensively on how to achieve the swim. More and more of our clients have managed to do this. Sometimes to their own surprise. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself and the Weimaraner.
To expend energy. The growing Weimaraner has boundless energy; however, they cannot be beating the pavement to run off this energy. Until the growth plates close, you need to limit high impact exercise. Many experts agree that about three miles should be the limit. Imagine how quickly the Weimaraner puts in the three miles. Seriously, nearly a mile into your run they have probably gone this far. Using the swim is the ideal way to exercise without causing damage to the growing joints. We would go so far as to suggest it probably helps your Weimaraner get more years and miles from their body. That is something that serves everyone’s best interest. We think you can agree.
Hunter or not, you need to master the recall. You say what do you mean by the recall? That is coming when called. Getting the retrieve to hand is also a part of the recall. The rock-solid come when you call or give a command–verbal or otherwise. The bringing of a bumper or toy back to you is a must. Keep away it funny and laughable; however, we don’t feel this is ever in the best interest of the Weimaraner or you.
Cliff and I suggest you find an area where there is no escape route. For example–a hallway (closing all the adjoining doors) will work for this exercise. You want to make this an exciting event. Something that they look forward to doing with you. Sit down in that hallway and work on the retrieve at least every day. You want to ingrain the love of the retrieve as well as getting them to bring the dedicated item it to hand. This discipline will serve you well and help you achieve the swim.
The hallway exercise should begin as soon as they arrive. Make it an event–the same person, the same bumper or toy, and somewhat a routine. Five-Seven throws blocking the exit with your body. Toss and retoss keeping the excitement going. This activity should be fun, short-lived, and you want to stop while they are still excited. Once you have the rock-solid recall—then you can move to the yard. You may need to use a check cord in the larger venue. If you don’t know what that is, ask us. It is a long line that attaches to their collar and allows you to reel them back to you. Always giving them praise like it was all their idea.
Why the Retrieve
The Weimaraner that is in loves the retrieve then can be worked along the water–at first, make it shallow water. A pond or something similar is ideal. Sloping sides are the best. That way, the Weimaraner can play at the water’s edge and retrieve. Eventually, you can edge them out a bit, and they will take off and swim a couple of strokes. This process takes patience. You might wonder how long. Can we say it takes as long as it takes? Typically, Cliff gets the water-retrieve in two weeks or less. The rewards are almost endless. You can do this! Believe in the process. Stay optimistic. Keep it fun. Stay at it until you achieve success.
For the long distance runner, this is the best way to set the Weimaraner up as your running companion. The growth plates typically close around 15 months. By then you should have them swimming. The waterwork can keep your running companion in the tip-top shape you need as well as help them develop muscles which may help prevent injury.
To Burn Off Energy
For those less inclined or find themselves challenged to keep up with the Weimaraner, this is an excellent way to burn off the excess energy. The Weimaraner will still be able to join you on walks, etc. But tiring the Weimaraner out is challenging. The waterwork helps and does it without injury. Of course, there are other pros to having the water-friendly Weimaraner.
Imprinting the Idea
We swim the pups with the idea that it imprints this experience. If you wonder, the Weimaraner has webbed toes. There are hundreds of updates on our blog that feature OwyheeStar pups and adults enjoying the water–swimming, retrieving, and playing in it. We hope your Weimaraner will swim–and love the water.
Here is Stackhouse — a strong swimmer
~Her First Swim
Cliff has had her to the pond a couple of times–and retrieved in chest-deep water before. The key to the quick success was her love of the retrieve. This water work is one of the many benefits of having your Weim crazy for the retrieve.
Please note that there was a couple of bumpers left from a trip out with another Weimaraner earlier–and Cliff tossed a rock to try to get Henri to retrieve the additional bumper. Hurrah–for-Henri she did several water-retrieves, and there was no hesitation at entering the water. And, she picked up that extra bumper too!
~What I Imagined
I remember when I first heard about the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) Natural Ability Test, I imagined you didn’t prepare. You took your young Weimaraner (or whatever Versatile Hunting Dog you had) to this event–and the experts discovered if you had a natural hunter or not.
This approach would be like flushing time and money down the toilet. These guys who participate work hard to prepare their hunting companions. There are several elements (or disciplines) involved in the process–you have to have them ready for each (and all). There are seven critical inherited abilities: nose, search, tracking, pointing, water, desire, and cooperation.
It might seem wrong to work at developing these abilities, but it is the opposite. It is a bit like exercising a muscle–it gets stronger when worked. This preparation works.
Our Discovery and Placement Test
We test pups at six-weeks realizing that we are pushing the envelope at that age–at seven or eight weeks would be apt to test more easily. Nevertheless, we have had success at six-weeks when the pups are prepared and mature enough to engage in the activities. Below are some photos from a recent litter of Longhairs who were visiting the Three Cliff’s Sanctuary in preparation of the Discovery and Placement Test.
As with the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test process, preparation is essential. I am sure people wonder we are doing. We are exposing the pups to different locations, and expanding their world. We are showing them toys, and interacting with them in small groups and sometimes on a one-on-one basis. This preparation is an essential part–and all the while we are not gathering information or sizing up the pups. That might be hard to believe but one thing we have learned–don’t come (to the test) with preconceived ideas. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by anything–not clients, not what we seen before, etc. We are taking a fresh look–trying to get pure information or findings. At six-weeks these pups don’t do all that much– we hope to have them ready to engage with us as well as the exercises as they are presented.
~Why we don’t use a harness
One of our greatest frustrations is reading or seeing that a Weimaraner is out of control. A lot happens on to the way to developing a problem–typically, those who get into the biggest mess, are the same ones trying to do everything perfectly–in the correct manner. (Deep breath.)
Yes, the best intentions can lead you down the path to problems–serious issues. The little things that people want to dismiss might grow into something disruptive or even worse. When we talk about not liking harnesses, head halters, prong collars, etc.–we have a reason. In our experience, the use of the devices typically means the Weimaraner is not compliant. Somehow, you have to go from forcing control, to evoke their desire to want to please. This process is easier said than done.
Raising the well-balanced (obedient) Weimaraner can be tricky. Even with a lot of socialization, things can go sideways. This type of issue can lead to frustration–frustration is like throwing wood on a burning fire. Folks they (the Weimaraner) read us–they know how to play us, and they are out to get their way. Sometimes this is cute, and other times not so much.
If you are an off-leash advocate, be careful. Some of you tell us your Weim only behaves when they are off leash. What does that say? Honestly, it means they don’t want to be under your control. Once the Weimar gets the upper paw, things can become scary–lunging, pulling, and going after other dogs, or sometimes certain people. These behaviors are ones you want to avoid. Can we suggest that you get the Weimaraner compliant on the leash?
We have helped a lot of people who found their self in this type of dilemma–Cliff taking the Weim getting compliance in short order. However, when the leash is passed back to the owner–things quickly go sideways. Letting your Weimaraner win this battle is not a win for anyone.
There is one exception to this thought. That would be one designed for a Service Dog or when it is used in a particular discipline–like this one Loki uses. There are times when a harness is a must.