Water and Your 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 is the limit. Imagine how quickly the Weimaraner puts in the three miles. Seriously, about 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. 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 shallow water. A pond or something similar is ideal. Slopping sides even better. That way they 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 you will achieve the swim.
Here is Stackhouse — a strong swimmer
~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.
~ Like Virginia
Here is a picture of the pond I had built for my babies Dusty and Stormy (Weims).
Maybe you follow OwyheeStar Weimaraners both here and on Facebook. If so, you know about the late Stormy and our aging Dusty.
These are not the same Weims–they are Virginia’s Stormy and Dusty. Ours and Virginia’s Weims are all the Blue Weimaraner. Virginia’s Stormy is a Blue Longhair Weimaraner.
OwyheeStar’s Dusty is the father of both of Virginia’s pups. He is a smooth-coated Weimaraner (pictured to the left), but he carries the DNA marker for the Longhair. This Story originally ran some time ago.–click here to read the full story.
At the Nielsen Farm Pond
We promised an OwyheeStar client who is getting one of the Atti X Boone pups that we could swim the pup before they depart. Any promise is subject to being derailed by circumstances beyond our control. Mr. Winter could push in and steal the stage. He has already made it evident that he is intent on an early arrival. We didn’t get snow; however, other not so far away places did–Cotton Mountain for one. The forecast has been for a warmer fall, and we hoped for the Indian Summer weather that we love so much.
The icy temperatures departed, and the pups came of age. Isn’t it grand when the stars align? The pond filled and despite the straw-like trim that floated around the edge it made for the perfect opportunity to get the swim accomplished. The last induction to water for the year. We don’t have access to an indoor swimming pool.
We love adding the puppy swim to the list of early life experiences. Nevertheless, many OwyheeStar Weims swim without the benefit of this imprint experience. Therefore, folks getting a winter pup should not fear their pup won’t take to the water. In fact, any Weimaraner can become an excellent swimmer. Some are more natural swimmers than others. It takes knack and patience. The right setting also helps you achieve the swim. A love of the retrieve is an invaluable tool. If you are patient and keep working on this discipline, we have no doubt you will achieve a positive outcome.
After three and a half years, Winston learned to swim this weekend!
He’s been terrified of the water for years as much as I’ve encouraged him to take the plunge, but a switch was flipped this weekend and he’s no longer fearful; well, I should say no longer AS fearful. He has a very interesting swimming strategy which is predominately derived from not wanting to get his head wet, so he spends a lot of energy keeping at least a foot of his body out of the water, which often results in much more vertical movements than horizontal (there were some funny “treading water” moments this weekend), but he will now retrieve his ball from the water as many times as we’re willing to throw it. I am constantly amazed by how Winston is still surprising me after all these years.
We’re headed to the coast (Newport, OR) next weekend with 9 other friends and their dogs to camp and attend the Rogue Brewer’s Ale Festival where Rogue opens its doors to dogs and their owners for the weekend. Last year Winston won the Doggie Olympics competition so we’re back this year to defend our title!
Thank you so much for all the joy you’ve brought into my life – I can’t imagine my life without Winston.
Rebecca (May 13, 2013)