The pointing instinct is born out of the stalking instinct. Imagine a cat stalking its prey. He ever so slowly moves closer and closer towards his quarry, and then freezes and watches. Then, he starts slowly stalking again, freezes, and then… pounces! Your Weimaraner has this same instinct and the freeze is called a point.
You may have noticed that some Weimaraners have more pointing instinct than others. There is definitely a hereditary component to how much point a dog has, but it can also be nurtured and developed (or destroyed) by training.
The key to developing a dazzling point is to expose your Weimaraner to birds that fly, and as contradictory as it sounds, allow him to chase in his early development.
We all know that Weimaraners learn best if they come up with ideas on their own. If you put your Weimaraner in situations where he can hunt and find birds that he cannot catch, he will chase and chase until he realizes that the chase is fruitless, and he will eventually try a different tactic. Who knows what he will try at first, but eventually one of those choices will be to point.
If you are fortunate enough to have access to wild birds, they will teach your dog everything he needs to learn about pointing since wild birds are far too savvy to be caught, and your dog will eventually learn that the only way to get what he wants is to point and wait for you to shoot the bird he points. Let the birds do the work, and then your job will be to put the finishing touches on him if you want a finished dog. If, like many of us, you do not have easy access to wild birds, you will need to buy healthy pigeons or game birds that fly well and will not allow a dog to get too close to them. You can also use a launcher to time the flush more closely to what a wild bird would do. If you must, use a check cord to restrain your dog just enough so he doesn’t grab or catch a bird off the ground, but drop it so that he can chase when the bird flies.
Most of us get frustrated by dogs that don’t have much pointing instinct or whose pointing instinct is late to develop. We are tempted to help our dogs by using a check cord and making him point by restraining him when he gets scent of the bird. Helping your dog in this way sometimes creates a dog that doesn’t look as intense on point. The best way to develop point is to let your dog learn this on his own by getting him into the right situations, and you will soon find that your Weimaraner will understand that pointing is a way to work in cooperation with you so that you both get something out of the hunt.
This article was republished in the Weimaraner Club of America’s August 2018 issue of The Weimaraner Magazine, the official publication of the WCA.