~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 when the Weimar is walking on the lead (or leash). Go anywhere there are dogs, and you will see dogs lunging and yanking on the leash. You see dog owners pulled down the street. This scenario is scary stuff for a public venue. Some owners gain compliance early in their morning walk only to find when they turn for home it is almost impossible to prevent the pulling. It is as if to say, “I know where we are going, and I can get us there.” It’s true. Maybe this is a horse-thing–heading for the barn syndrome. Nonetheless, it is smart for you to be in control and for them to defer to your pace.
Loose is Important
I understand how much fun it is to have the off-leash freedom. I say go for it when it is appropriate and once you have this skill mastered. There are places where being off-leash is safe. Otherwise, you need 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 Okay. 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. I urge you to master the loose-lead walk. I see it as a necessary skill and a sign of respect for your leadership.
Get It Done
~ Part One (with Cliff)
Nothing is more crucial than loose leash heeling. It is imperative it be achieved. I am not talking about using a head halter, gentle leader, front-hooking harness, or a prong collar in order to accomplish the goal.
I hope every OwyheeStar Weimlover will accomplish……..
- Loose Leash Heeling (on a regular flat collar)
- Come; followed by the Sit-stay
We (Shela and I) would like you to focus on achieving these four goals with your OwyheeStar Weimaraner. I am positive when accomplished in the right manner the outcome will be good. There are various ideas on the appropriate timeline to have mastered these disciplines. I would like to see you have them done by the time the pup reaches seven months–-before the hormones kick in. Puppy classes can get you off to a good start, but the quality of sit-stay etc. is not finished at four months. As the Weimaraner develops, there will be challenges. This process of achieving the basics takes as long as it takes. So often, we want to achieve something as quickly as possible and be done with it. My best guess is you need to revisit and shapen this basic skill set again and again. Keep at it and perfect it to the best of your ability. It will pay huge dividends.
Two Vital Disciplines
Here You Go!
We have all been there. You know, where it is either the Weimaraner pulling and lunging on the lead, or we encounter someone facing an out of control dog. It is not enjoyable to walk when you are being pulled or jerked down the road. For this reason, people often resort to the unwarranted off-leash or to using a device that doesn’t allow them to pull or lunge. The head halter, front clipping harness, or the Gentle Leader are popular choices. Others opt for a prong collar.
The underlying danger (when using these devices) is that you do not have a compliant and willingly obedient Weimaraner. You gain control using the device, but your Weimaraner is only deferring because the device (special harness or lead) prevents them from pulling and lunging. This scenario is not ideal and may prove dangerous in the long run. Part of getting the Weimaraner raised is to earn their respect and a desire to want to please you. If you settle for less, you will get less. All too many of you are comfortable with needing the device, but there are times when they are not hooked up. What then?
The Weimaraner (in the moment) knocks down a toddler or a senior citizen, and you think well, I should have had the Gentle Leader on them. Honestly, your goal should be to move to compliance without the need for the device. You cannot unwind the past, once something bad has happened.
Before Off Leash
Obedience on the loose walking lead as well as a reliable recall (them coming when you call) is essential. Both of these skills should be rock solid before you are off leash. Sure it is fun to let them run and play. It is important. Do this early in life and work on it, so it becomes second nature–then you are not in a fight for control for the rest of their life.
All Weims are happiest when they are in control–they love being off leash, and it is nice to be able to have this luxury. Nevertheless, if the Weim is not in absolute leash compliance (on the leash), they are at risk. There is nothing worse than having the Weimaraner that pulls you down the street or lunges at everything as you try to walk them. It is bad manners and ultimately dangerous for you and them. Avoid this scenario. Getting off the tether also requires that achieving the reliable recall. If they only come when they get around to it, it is again a dangerous situation.
Struggling–You Are Not Alone
Many people struggle with these two disciplines. We recommend getting these disciplines mastered early, so you have a better and safer outcome. It is a plus for you as well as the Weimaraner.
Take a deep breath and stay the course. Achieving this level of proficiency can only be accomplished with patience. You want to get them in compliance early, but don’t set a timeline per say. Doing so can lead to frustration. Don’t compare this dog to any other–yours or someone else’s either. Your journey together is unique to the relationship you share. What you can become will remain to be seen, but getting the basics is nothing short of vital. It will save you and your Weimaraner a lot of problems. Just believe and stay baby steps to get there–if you opt for a device only use it for a tool to get to the loose leash option. You may well find; however, the decision to compromise early is a bigger setback and achieving the goal become more involved. We recommend avoiding these choices or using them only as a last resort.
Cliff on Collars
Recently, we spoke about the basics of raising the Weimaraner. We are invested in your success. We talk a lot about earning the Weimaraner’s respect; this means achieving the loose leash heel. When I suggested this must be done with the use of a flat collar, that caused some people to wonder what I meant.
The reference to achieving the loose leash heel while using a flat collar means, that you have only succeeded when the collar has no part in you achieving the result. Gentle leaders, head halters, and front clipping harness will give you a feeling of relief. They will thwart the Weim’s ability to pull; however, they do not (in my opinion) change the behavior. The first change the Weimaraner gets they will go right back to dragging you around by the leash. Earning respect requires that you achieve compliance, because the Weimaraner wants to please you. There are no gimmicks.
I am good with using an interim (or training) collar of the sort that leads you toward achieving this goal. To be clear, another acceptable end-result collar would be the adjustable collars. Many companies make this style of collar. Some people prefer them over the buckle collars. Those pictured here are linked to the website where we borrowed the photo. The Adjustable collar (pictured to the left) is a Lupine brand collar which not only makes a fashion statement, but offers a lifetime warranty. The other collars are from Gun Dog Supply. Steve Snell of Gun Dog Supply has a tutorial on collars, and his reasoning behind what you should list on a name tag.
I am asking you to remember if you to remember if you resort to another alternative to escape the tugging, and lunging on the leash, that this doesn’t solve the underlying issue. You and the Weimaraner are in a situation where they are winning control. They may comply in some areas, but when they get their head (so to speak) they are dead-set on being in the lead. It is at this point other folks give the Weimaraner more freedom. They let them go loose; and the Weimaraner is never happier. Happiness doesn’t always lead to good things. The Weimaraner that learns to be in compliance, and gives you proper respect, is going to be much happier in the long run. Those around this Weimaraner, likewise, enjoy the benefits of their respectful behavior, and the training you invested.
Achieving the Loose Leash Heel
This brings us to the question of how we achieve the loose leash heel. There are various methods of achieving this goal. Different trainers use various philosophies. You want the rock-solid outcome. For our OwyheeStar clients, we have a video in the works. You need to turn to the trainer of your choice for help.
Good luck in achieving results. I believe if you do this you will reap the benefit. The loose leash heel needs to be maintained throughout the life of your Weimaraner. Thank you for considering this training information. I do hope it proves beneficial, and that you get it done.
Cliff on the Weimaraner Basics
The Basics …
Nothing is more important than loose leash heeling. It is imperative it be achieved. I am not talking about using a head halter, gentle leader, front-hooking harness, or a prong collar in order to accomplish the goal.
This is what I hope every OwyheeStar Weimlover will accomplish……..
- Loose Leash Heeling (on a regular flat collar)
- Come; followed by the Sit-stay
We (Shela and I) would like you to focus on achieving these four goals with your OwyheeStar Weimaraner. I am positive when accomplished in the right manner, the outcome will be good. There are various ideas on the appropriate timeline to have mastered these disciplines. I would like to see you have them done by the time the pup reaches 7 months–before the hormones kick in. Puppy classes can get you off to a good start, but the quality of sit-stay, etc. is not finished at 4 months. As the Weimaraner develops, there will be challenges.
Respect and the Relationship
Depth in your relationship is worth achieving; respect is a crucial part of your relationship-development. When you get the loose-lead respect, then you can easily achieve these other goals. It is a bit like a thread that pulls you through a good novel (or movie); without a strong relationship (or the underlying story-line), it is hard to get to end. Distractions come along.
Jan Magnuson –The priorities in my basic obedience/good manners classes are loose leash heeling, sit-stay, down-stay, come and sit-stay, and no bite. I agree, if folks can get these down pat, everything else tends to fall into place. Loose leash walking is imperative, as it is representative of the relationship between dog and handler (if the leash is relaxed, so is your relationship, if the leash is tense and strained, so is your relationship). Dogs that “do better off leash” feel they are in charge and do what pleases them, and if they mind it is because they happen to feel like it at the moment- that is not a trained dog. I like down-stays a lot because it is a subservient posture, the dog should learn to be totally relaxed so we do lots of these- we allow them to lie on one hip or their side and get their head and tummy rubbed, with lots of calm praise.
Get it done; Keep it Fun…
Never forget to have fun. If this becomes a grind, neither you nor the Weimaraner will enjoy it. If it becomes boring, there are always other things you want to do. Once these four things are mastered, you need to keep them sharp. It is not something you achieve and forget about; these are lifelong skills you take with you on the entire journey.
Note: We will discuss collars (and choices) in a later blog. There are many suitable styles of the regular (flat-collar) type. Collar purchases are more a fashion-statement than we like to admit. Hunters are field-fashion conscious. Some prefer a fine leather collar, while others prefer a durable plastic-based collar that resists dirt, odor, and fading. These collars wipe clean. They come in a variety of colors; fluorescent orange, fluorescent green, and fluorescent yellow are popular. Some hunters find the cammo collar a must-have accessory. One of our favorite vet techs saw a purple collar we had on a girl, and asked where we found it. There are other great colors too.