Category Archives: Puppy Swim
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!
~Propel them through the Water
The Weimaraner is a powerful swimmer once they get going. The trick is getting to take the first step. Their toes are webbed making them better equipped to paddle.
There is no one way to get them to swim; however, we find having a love of the retrieve ingrained goes a long way towards accomplishing this discipline. (Sorry to some of you!) For the non-hunter, many times the retrieve is not viewed as essential. All too many of you allow the Weimaraner to abscond and run around the yard with the toy or the bumper–instead of bringing back to hand. Yes, this is a hoot–although it is just one more Weim antic, this is one we suggest you not allow to take root. The idea of achieving the swim is only one reason in a myriad of why you need to get the rock-solid retrieve. We won’t list those as we are speaking about achieving the Water Retrieve.
You want the Weimaraner coming when called. The Recall is a safety issue and the underpinning of compliance. Two areas where compromise cannot be allowed (in our opinion). Depending on your approach to training there are various ways to get this done–we will forgo the discussion on methodology. Let’s just say get this done! It is going to help you with achieving more than a Water Retrieve.
Cliff suggests you find a place to do this exercise. One location that works well is a hallway. Close all the adjoining doors (so they cannot take off with the bumper of the toy). Make this a special event and stop before they tire–while they are still begging for more. He also suggests you use a dedicated toy or bumper you save for this activity only. Depending on your pup’s attention and skill level keep the number of reps down–at first maybe as few as three. Bear in mind; the idea is to make this celebratory and fun. You want them having the desire. This activity will serve you well on so many levels and enhance your training outcome positively.
Weather Permitting the OwyheeStar puppy will see the water before they depart. You saw the video we shared, if not we included it here. Nevertheless, this is not going to ensure that your pup will swim. It will still require time, effort, and patience to get your Weimaraner to swim–plus a bit of knack. A few suddenly jump in but don’t wait for that to happen. Oh–and if you doubt, the Weimaraner is more than likely going to read your thoughts and agree with you.
You might wonder how to begin. Cliff does it this way–your situation may require you to adapt. Using the reliable retrieve, you work along the edges of a pond. Just play in the water’s edge–a tiny bit on their feet initially. Slowly ease them into the water beyond their comfort zone. It might take a few tries, a few days, or a few weeks. It takes as long as it takes, but if you follow this protocol, you will achieve the goal. Like anything with the concrete thinking Weimaraner, you want to make this part of the early life training. Then it becomes the norm. Oh, and you notice he mentions using the pond. Waves could spook them. You want to avoid that scenario.
Imagine the possibilities!
A Few Final Thoughts
- Weims who balk at the sight of rain or a sprinkler often achieve the swim.
- Don’t go in with the *pre-conceived idea that it cannot be achieved.
- Select the venue to work on this carefully.
- Go in with the idea it takes as long as it takes.
- Make this part of your young pup’s agenda.
- If you *failed to achieve the swim early on, don’t believe it is impossible.
- Some people use a life vest**. The vests are not necessary.
- Often Cliff is teaching a Weimaraner who has not swum since they were a puppy. They might be 2 years old or older. They always learn. Cliff knows it can be achieved. Sometimes it is challenging but, with patience, it always happens.
- Deem this as invaluable to your process. It is a healthy activity that can burn off the excess energy and not take such a toll on the hips and joints. It is good for their cardiovascular as well.
~ We hope this helps someone achieve the swim! ~ Cliff and Shela
*You would be shocked to learn how many folks achieved the swim after they told us it was impossible.
**Life Vests–just a note here that Cliff never uses one. The only vest he might use is a Neoprene one if he were to swim them in inclement weather–like for Duck Hunting. Some of you need this for peace of mind. It might help the Weimaraner take their first few steps, but again–it is not necessary. A lot of clients who live in cold water regions cannot keep their Weims out of the water. This scenario is true even in the winter.
The First Swim
I posted this video on Facebook yesterday. I never gave it much thought, but it deserves an explanation. There are six puppies; four are Longhairs. Of the six, five have the natural European-style tail–full length. This tail length is typical around the world for the Longhairs–and it is the Breed Standard. You may have noticed that the one Blue Ghost puppy has a full-length tail too. It was by request.
The traditional undocked puppy requires advance notice. We have a very specific protocol for this situation. I will forego the details here, other than to say we require a larger deposit for the obvious reasons. The number of inquiries regarding the undocked tail continues to increase each year.
Introducing Something New
The pups had never seen more than their water dish. Cliff set them in the water as gentle as possible. They all swam. The Weimaraner has webbed toes, and it should be noted that they are often excellent swimmers. When introducing them to water, it is important to be sure they don’t get spooked. Cliff uses lots of patience when he is working an older pup or an adult into the water. Obviously, you cannot carry them out into the water and then set them gently as Cliff did with the pups.
It is important not to spook them. The best technique is to engrain the love of the retrieve from and early age. This obsession with the retrieve works in your favor to get them into the water. A pond with sloping sides is ideal. First, get them retrieving along the water’s edge. Gradually you will ease them out where they must go beyond the bottom. This process could take a couple of days or weeks. With patience, any Weimaraner can learn to swim.
Here is Stackhouse
~ another Longhair
Keep In Mind
All Weimaraners have the potential to take to the water. It takes a bit of knack and patience. Our puppy imprinting does guarantee success–nor does it hurt the process. The retrieving and water-work sometimes get cast to the side during the flurry of early adjustment. There are so many things pulling at the process it is easy to forget a few. Socialization (a lot of touches in a safe way), exposure to noise, ingraining the love of the retrieve (not playing keep away) as well as engaging the pup with water are equally important. Balancing everything you are trying to accomplish–the basics we keep talking about and a lot more while doing it in the right manner is not a small task. It is important to spook them and create a fear of people, places, or situations. Some pups are more sensitive to stimuli, and others let it roll off their back. Approach the process with caution staying optimistic and upbeat. Small steps to success will get you results. Preconceived ideas should be shelved. See what you can become together.
~First a Question!
Just wondering if you know of any websites that would be posting stuff about local Kennel Cough outbreaks?? Roy has had all his pup shots and is scheduled to get his kennel cough nasal drips at 16 weeks and will be getting his rabies around 22 weeks.
Hello, Megan! No, I don’t know of any online resource that posts pet viral outbreaks. I think mostly, dog professionals stay up on this — Vet offices, Dog Trainers, Boarding Facilities, and those associated with the task of Dog Park Management. Maybe if there is such a thing in and around the Pacific NW someone will leave a comment.
We feel you are doing the shots the way they should be done for the Weimaraner. If you are going to be out and about, getting the kennel cough protection is wise. Since it is not a long-lived protection and the problem seems to rise in the late fall to winter time frame, getting one later in the year seems to be a wise choice. We are happy to see Roy is doing well. Thank you so much for taking good care of him.
He’s doing great, we learned to “shake” this week. He is eager to please 😉 (more like get a biscuit!)
The Social Butterfly
We went on a road trip through Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. We’re actually just heading home. Roy is a social butterfly, in fact, he actually seems really offended if someone walks by and doesn’t acknowledge him. So funny the compliments we get one lady said he was “… Kinda of an iridescent color if you will”
He is my little shadow, I never go anywhere and don’t feel his eyes on me. Nick is jealous!
Ready for adventure!
~Wyoming mornings are cold!
Here he is in Idaho at Anderson ranch reservoir. I didn’t get a picture with him wearing his yellow life jacket. Turns out he loves swimming, just not in the pool at home!
He loves the Water!
We have taken him on another adventure since the three state roundabout. Above Roy is pictured with me. It was a lot warmer on the Pontoon Boat in Portland.
~ Swimming the MacKenzie River
With the novelty of sprinklers wearing off, Porsche decided to take on
the MacKenzie River. It took 3 or 4 lessons before she would swim
across. The river is low, so for 40 feet of width only about 10 feet
required swimming, and I could walk all the way across to an island.
Please note life jacket found at St. Vincent de Paul for $2.00 is a
great teaching aid and confidence builder for swimming. Of course,
everyone should wear one on the river. When I slipped and fell into the
water, I was glad to have my life jacket, and Porsche immediately came
to my rescue. She steadies me when I go up and down the river bank. I
think she is figuring out her role in my life.
The New Cooling Pad
Here is Porsche’s new cooling pad. My daughter gave it to
her. Porsche seeks it out when it is hot. For us, 90 degrees is hot,
and it’s been a bit hotter than that.
I hope you enjoy this news of Porsche and her life
Click Here to read about Porsche and the sprinklers!
At Wallowa Lake
This afternoon (August 9th), I took Benson with me in my kayak at Lake Wallowa. He sat still for most of the way, even fell asleep for a bit. Thanks for exposing him to water, I don’t think he was scared of the water.
He sleeps in his kennel at night and walks on the lead with ease. He is lovable and wants to please; however, at certain times, he ignores me and does his own thing. He starts puppy class next week. Thanks for him.
You are doing great! Keep up your efforts. For sure keep him water friendly so he can join you on the lake. We look forward to hearing more in the future.
The Puppy Experience
Do you believe that a swimming pup is imprinted with the ability to know they can swim? Some young pups swim but soon develop an affinity for the water. Nevertheless, every year the percentage of swimming OwyheeStars rises. We believe the imprint makes a difference. We think that the belief that the swim can be achieved is also is a huge contributor. Some pups are clearly more natural in the water than others. The web-toed Weimaraner should have no difficulty in learning to swim when given time and the opportunity to take to the water.
(July 9th) My little water dogs made their way out to the pool for a little Saturday afternoon swim sesh. To say they LOVE the pool would be an understatement, but I’m still not sure who loves it more; me being able to splash and swim along side them or them as they race to get to their favorite water you.
(July 15) Summer Friday’s have officially turned into Swimming Friday’s for the fluffies!! Apparently, the pool gives my Weims snoozy eyes.
We were at a different pool today, G (Goldee) didn’t like it as much. I am positive I swam way more than her! Mav (Maverick) liked it, but the entry ramp is at about 1/4 way into the pool, so he didn’t get as much swimming in either. We will be heading back to the big pool for open swim on Sunday.
There is nothing better for the Weimaraner than the right kind of exercise. They are difficult to wear out as we all know, and swimming can exhaust them without the typical wear and tear on the joints. For the long distance runner, this activity can set up their companion without undue stress–never truer than before the growth plates close.
Ears are another breed issue. Damp ears can promote ear bacterial growth. A good ear powder after the swim can help thwart the little buggers from taking off like wildfire.
After the Snow
Olli is from OwyheeStar. When we met these folks they already had the Longhair Rudi, and were excited to add a second. Becoming a two Weim family was an adventure. Maybe you remember when they reached detente?!?