~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.
Who is in the lead?
A lack of respect (for your authority) often shows up in response to your leadership when they are walking on the lead (or leash). Go anywhere there are dogs, and you will see dogs lunging at the end of the lead. Other dog owners are seen being pulled down the street. Some owners gain compliance on the trip out away from home, and compromise letting their Weim drag or walk ahead once they turn toward home. It is as if to say, “I know where we are going, and I can get us there.”
The loose lead is important..
This is where you want to reel them in, and to get them to comply by walking on a loose lead at your side. Pulling, lunging, and dragging you where they want you to go is not OK. When faced with this scenario, many people turn to a front-clip harness or a head-halter like a Gentle Leader. Yes, these get you away from the behavior, but they don’t change the underlying cause of the problem. Cliff urges people to master the loose-lead walk.
Failure is not an option…
Your failure to get compliance and to master the loose-lead walk may result in other behavior issues. At times, these issues can be subtle in nature; however, at other times, they can erupt into something much more serious. Your Weimaraner loves you, but when they begin to gain a measure of control, this can lead to territorial and aggressive-type actions. In many cases, these are not serious, but allowing your Weimaraner to set the boundaries is never a good idea. (Keep in mind, that a simple non-compliance or resistance to your direction, can turn into a serious problem. Balance that thought with a calm non-reactive approach.) As their leader, you need to get them to respect you. You are looking for the Weimaraner that is willing (and wants) to please you. They need to know underneath it all you love them; because you do, you are not going to allow these behaviors that can lead to other problems.
Do not overreact…
Are you struggling with these issues? First, it is important not to overreact. Doing so, can create new problems. What you want to do, is to reel them in a bit. Start at the basics (sit, stay, come, etc.), and get them to do what you want. When they perform the request reinforce their good behavior (and compliance) with praise. For now, put the cookie or treat away. You want compliance to be the focus. The reward should be your delight in their achievement, as well as what you are doing as a team. You like their willingness to come into line with your expectations. Clear, concise, commitment will get results. Don’t overreact, or overwhelm them with change; take baby steps in a relaxed calm manner expecting a positive outcome–knowing you will achieve it. Be sure to do things that you know will get the outcome you want and need. Initially, walk only a few feet with them on the lead, requiring the loose lead (with them next to your side in a heeling position). Build on your success. If you find yourself slipping back to the same issues, repeat the process. Require compliance, and respect of your leadership. It is what is best for all concerned.
Compliance is a must..
Freedom is always earned. Compliance on the lead is a must. Being off lead is a privilege. Nevertheless, they need some fun time. Don’t make everything about training and getting compliance. There are times when you should be having fun together. Even when you are doing these exercises, it should be in the spirit of what is best, and with an element of fun and excitement. Achieving the wanted outcome takes a bit of a knack, but it is going to happen when the change happens inside you first.
If you have a weakness, expect the Weimaraner to find and exploit it. This is another kind of smartness and savvy that intelligence tests don’t measure. It is a bit like a complicated game of chess. They can manipulate and out maneuver you. They can read your unspoken inner intent. They can work things around the way they like it. Remember, ownership and control are their goal. We are all too often flattered by their adoration and their metaphorical need to crawl under our skin next to our heart.
Relationship is the most important component
It takes a knack to get compliance, and earn their respect without damaging your relationship. People who see the Weimaraner’s antics (and know nothing of the breed) make comments about the fact that they could get compliance from them. Yes, but their methods would destroy the sensitive Weimaraner, and our goal is to get compliance and respect. We don’t want them to do so out of fear (of consequences). We want it because it is what is best, and we deserve their compliance and respect. Severe corrections should be saved for life-threatening situations where there is no other option.
A common human error
The Weimaraner is so engaging and their human-like actions lead us to want to problem solve with our normal reasoning process. This is a mistake. Honestly, we all struggle with this problem, because they get us wrapped around their paw. Even the best of Weim folks can get taken in at times. A lot of Weimlovers do not care if the Weim runs everything. Nevertheless, letting them do so could end badly for them. Ultimately, we want what is best for them. Ultimately, respect is a must. Absolute picture-book obedience in every situation is probably unrealistic. Nevertheless, a well-behaved and compliant Weimaraner is safe, fun, and a blessing to all who know and love them. They are the dog you can take up town or the beach and have interact with others. Finally, their ability to achieve these thing rests solely in their human’s ability get the right outcome. Yes, breeding, temperament, and health can affect behavior. However, almost without exception, all this is manageable with the right attitude and process.
Let a puppy be a puppy
There is a big difference between a puppy being a puppy, and the mature Weimaraner, who is being disrespectful and rejecting your leadership. It should be noted that the Weimaraner matures later than most breeds, and may exhibit puppy behaviors well into the second year of their life. If the handler (albeit the owner, a trainer, or person working with the Weim) becomes frustrated and impatient this will cause additional problems. Over reaction, pushing too hard, or correcting inappropriately will ingrain rather than fix the problem. A good leader or handler finds a way to get the Weimaraner to comply with what they want. Please note that we are not talking about a Weimaraner that sneaks on the sofa, counter-surfs, or raids the trash can. We are talking about open defiance or resistance to the basic obedience skill-set. Earning the Weimaraner’s respect is foundational in nature. Some individuals by nature are better leaders and manage to get others (including their Weimaraner) to comply with what they want. If you have a weakness in this area, you will find the Weimaraner challenging your right to be in command.
If you find you are struggling, address the underlying cause sooner rather than later. Waiting for things to fall into line, might lead to things reeling out of control. A good trainer or class can make a huge difference. It has to work for you and your Weim. There is no one size fits all class or situation. If the results are not positive, it is either because you are not doing it right, or this method is not working. Remember, dog training is actually people training. It is meant to educate you, and help you learn to manage your situation. There are many benefits to a good training situation. One is on-going socialization in a structured environment. Achieving graduation is always a plus. If you have an OwyheeStar Weim, and you are struggling Cliff will take the time to try to help you. It is a bit like raising kids. Sometimes as soon as you express the problem it vanishes into thin-air. Regardless, he does give pointers and help our clients. We are invested in your success.