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Your Weimaraner is a high energy, sporting dog that loves people but can be difficult to train. They have a strong prey drive, and they are not for the faint of heart!
Weimaraners need exercise and lots of it, so leash training your Weimaraner to allow you to provide that exercise is going to be important. The catch is, these high-energy dogs are motivated to chase anything that moves: cats, joggers, bikes, other dogs. Not all of the these passersby will appreciate being chased! You will need to train your Weimaraner to walk on his leash in control, with slack, so as to avoid unpleasant incidents with passersby. Also, you don't want a sore arm from being pulled, or to damage your dog's neck, airway, or spine by constantly having tension on his collar.
Once trained to walk on a leash, your Weimaraner will be a great walking companion who is very devoted and lots of fun to exercise. 'Hope you can keep up!
Your Weimaraner should be trained to walk at your left side, with his shoulder next to your left leg, or on a loose leash, with no tension. Your dog should move at the same pace as you, speeding up when you do, and stopping when you do. Because a Weimaraner will be a large dog when mature, you want to maintain good control on-leash. A full grown, excited Weimaraner can pull a leash out of a handler's hand unexpectedly, running into dangerous situations such as traffic or an altercation with another dog, or chasing people or other animals, who may become injured. Due to their high prey drive, Weimaraners are liable to want to take off after other small dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, squirrels, or anything that moves, really! To avoid having your dog break loose, you will need to train good leash manners and not to pull on a leash, which could also injure his neck or spine.
There are a variety of collars and leads available for training. Research which one would work best for you and your Weimaraner based on his temperament and your abilities. Often for training a large high energy dog like a Weimaraner, a choke chain or martingale collar is used, which will tighten up and provide some control. A buckle collar can slip over your dog’s head. Head halters are another option to provide more control, but be careful that your Weimaraner does not make a sudden run and come up short on a head halter, which can jerk his neck around and cause injury. A long lead, about 6 feet in length, is useful for several leash training exercises. Do not use a Flexi leash, as they are not effective at providing control during training, especially for a large, high-energy Weimaraner. Carrying treats to reinforce good leash walking behavior is a great way to direct your dog. Choose verbal commands like “heel”, or “let's go” to provide your people-pleasing Weimaraner with further direction.
The Extinguish Tension Method
Provide 'heel' command
Put your Weimaraner on a leash and start walking forward. Say “heel”, call and encourage your dog forward on your left side at your leg.
When your Weimaraner pulls in front of you or off to the side, stop, let out leash, turn and run off in the other direction.
Your Weimaraner will follow you. When he catches up to your leg, say "heel" and provide a treat.
Repeat as your dog pulls off in front or to the side, changing direction and forcing your dog to catch up to you. Reinforce when he reaches the 'heel' position at your leg.
As your Weimaraner starts to walk at your left leg, provide praise and affection. Occasionally provide a treat to reinforce correct behavior.
The Remove the Goal Method
Provide a goal
Have an assistant stand with your Weimaraner’s favorite toy, several yards in front of you and your dog. This creates a “goal” your dog wants to reach.
Proceed towards goal
Walk towards the goal with your dog on a leash.
Penalize for tension
As soon as your Weimaraner puts tension on the leash say “stop”, and stop moving forward. Take a few steps backwards. Get your dog's attention.
Move forward with slack
When your dog is calm and focused, proceed towards your assistant and the favorite toy. Repeat the process until you reach your goal, stopping and backing up when tension is put on the leash.
Reward when goal reached
When you reach the toy on a loose leash, play with the toy with your dog. Repeat every day for several days, until your dog learns to associate slack on the lead with reaching his goal.
The Reinforce Slack Method
Exercise your Weimaraner first, in an enclosed area off leash, so your dog is tired out.
Walk on long lead
Attach a long lead, 10 feet or longer, to your dog's collar or harness. Start walking your dog on the long lead, in an area where you have control and there are no other dogs or animals, like a yard or enclosed dog park. Work early in the morning, or late at night, when others are not about to cause distractions.
Reinforce for walking close
Hold a treat in your left hand. When your Weimaraner comes over to your left side and walks with you, provide the treat and say "heel" to introduce a command. Continue providing a treat from a pouch at your side every few steps as long as your dog stays with you, walking on at your left side. Practice lots.
Use a shorter leash
When your Weimaraner is getting good at walking beside you. Put a shorter leash on and take your dog on a walk where there are more distractions. Continue to reinforce walking beside your left leg with treats and saying "heel."
Start providing the 'heel' command and provide treats at longer intervals and randomly. Gradually replace treats with praise. Make sure your Weimaraner gets lots of opportunity for exercise and nose time, so he is not frustrated by walking on a short leash at a heel for long periods of time without a break. Enclosed dog parks or active play with your dog in a yard can provide a break and more free exercise for your Weimaraner.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 02/09/2018, edited: 01/08/2021