Weims love to pull. They’re hunting dogs after all, and they’re supposed to be sniffing their way through the world barrelling through life! As for me, I want to go for a normal civilized walk now and then.
I can’t say that my dogs are the most polite on leash, but I’ve finally learned a thing or two about not getting my arm ripped out of its socket in the past 20+ years with Weims.
Why Does My Weimaraner Pull?
The problems almost always starts unknowingly when your Weim is a puppy.
When you first get your pup, he may be about 15-20 pounds at 8 weeks old. Unless you are really paying attention, most people are not going to feel a puppy pulling.
And if you aren’t doing anything about pulling from the very beginning, you are actually teaching him to pull. Yup. You are rewarding him by letting him get where he wants to go — by pulling! Remember, rewards do not have to be food or praise.
The double whammy is that in addition to getting to his destination by pulling, he also gets there faster by pulling.
And to cap it all off with the triple whammy, by the time you notice how bad this habit is (when he gets big), he has already had daily repetitions of positive reinforcement for being obnoxious on leash.
How To Teach Your Weim To Walk Politely On Leash
It’s a little sobering to think about having to un-train something so ingrained (I didn’t do it for counter-surfing), but it can be done with some effort.
You may want to decide if you want to go through the effort or teaching your Weim to walk politely on a regular leash and collar, or if you are okay with using the many tools on the market to help you have a pleasant walk with your dog.
No shame in choosing the latter, and I’ll discuss those tools a bit later, but for those that want to train their Weim to be polite on a leash without a training collar, there is just one cardinal rule: You must always remember what that his motivation is to get from Point A to Point B. That’s it.
With that in mind, the rules are simple (but not always easy to implement). This training method is also called “Stand Like a Tree”:
- You need to make his action of pulling result in something else (i.e., not Point B) for your dog. Pulling should not get him closer to his destination (i.e., not Point B).
- The second there is tension on the leash, STOP. Stand like a tree. Remember, you are giving your dog a consequence to his action. If he pulls, he cannot move closer to where he desperately wants to go.
- When he gives you some slack on the leash, move forward again.
- In the beginning, he will rush to the end of the leash again in his enthusiasm. Oh well! STOP. Stand like a tree until he gives you slack.
Repeat as many times as necessary. In the beginning, this will be a frustrating exercise for you both. Do not give up. This is a game of repetition and out-stubborning your dog.
This Sucks, We Aren’t Going Anywhere
Yup. This is why most Weims win and tend to be horrible on leash. You know they’re stubborn, right?
If you need to up the ante, when he pulls, STOP, and then turn around and walk the other direction. All of my dogs will give me slack leash when we are walking in an undesirable direction.
An easy way to do this is to use the dog park, or any destination that he is knows and loves. When you head that direction and he pulls, stop, and turn around and walk the opposite direction.
After a few steps of slack leash, turn back around towards the dog park. Repeat as needed. You will look like an idiot walking around in circles, but doing it this way can make progress go faster with some Weims.
Your Weim’s Collar
Your Weim’s collar is one of the most important tools in your arsenal to help with leash training. That means it’s also one of the most important purchases you’ll make for your dog, and you’ll definitely end up with more than one.
So what is best for your Weim, and when should you use which type, and when?
Flat Buckle Collar
The jangle of tags drives me nuts, so my dogs all wear name plates on their Duralon or Duraflex collars. These are grime proof, and my dogs are definitely grimey dogs! You can even bleach these things.
These are what I consider “every day” collars and are worn around the house. I do all my leash training with their regular collars.
Training Collars — Use Tools When Necessary!
The main reasons why teaching polite leash behavior is so hard is because we can sometimes have the attention span of a puppy!
Easily distracted by what is going on around us, and in our haste, we let our Weim pull that one time, or maybe we just get sloppy with our timing. And just like that, back to square one. You just rewarded your dog for what you are working so hard to prevent!
It is okay to not be “on” with training all the time. The best training advice for leash manners I can give you is to know/acknowledge/think about when you don’t have the time, patience or inclination to concentrate on training — and use a tool! A prong collar, halti, harness, whatever, just as long as you are not allowing your dog to pull against his neck.
Slip or Choke Collar
You’ll typically see this type of collar on Weimaraners in the show ring. They are also favored by the sight hound people. They come in nylon or metal and can be “limited slip” or a “martingale” type.
The main thing to know about these collars is that if you don’t use them properly they will injure your dog. You need to have the collar high up on your dog’s neck, right behind the ears. And when you put it on, the collar should look like a “p” not a “q” in shape.
Do not use these collars with an out of control dog or with puppies!
The leash and collar must always have slack. Do not let your dog lean and pull into this set up. (You should never do that anyway, but this is especially bad.) If you need to correct your dog, “pop” the collar. You are looking for that “zing” noise with the metal collars and a brief correction.
These collars look fierce and are often misunderstood because they look a little barbaric. Don’t let looks fool you. They aren’t barbaric. Prong collars do more of the heavy work for you since most Weims are pretty powerful.
The best part about prong collars is that many dogs, even some of the brutes, will respond to the prong collar the second they try to pull since the prongs are uncomfortable. This means that not only is the prong collar going to do more of the heavy work for you, it will also give your dog immediate feedback.
Like slip collars, prong collars need to be positioned correctly up on the neck. If your Weim still needs a correction (some dogs will continue to lean into a prong collar even if it’s practically choking him), use it like slip and give a short jerk to the collar. Do not be rough; it is just to get his attention.
A lot of people prefer to use harnesses with young puppies because it doesn’t put pressure on their neck. This makes sense to me for physiological reasons but also because people usually don’t notice a little puppy pulling them.
They have various harness designs. Some attach at the front, others clip on the back. You may have to try a few to see what works for you and your dog.
I personally do not use them because I teach my dogs to pull. Gun dog trainers call it “roading.” Wearing pulling harnesses, the dogs pull an ATV, like sled dogs would pull a sled. I do the same thing by using the harness with a bicycle and a bike pulling attachment. You can also do this on foot by using your own weight, a long rope and a pair of gloves — and just let your Weim pull! It is a great workout!
These work like horse halters and in essence lead your dog in the direction you want them to go. These can work really well for some dogs.
The down side to these is that they look like muzzles and some dogs really won’t tolerate them.
Oh the controversy! Most people hate them. They imagine someone “frying” a dog for being “bad.” Obviously that is a terrible way to train a dog, never mind trying to have a good relationship with your Weimaraner.
It is very important to only use the electric collars to reinforce behaviors your dog already knows. Electric collars that are used the right way can also be used to shape behaviors and as a line of “invisible” communication with your dog. An electric collar should never to be used to “fry” a dog, unless it is for something like snake avoidance training.
Like the others, these collars should sit high up on the neck and should be used at the lowest stimulation that your dog responds to.
Weims are smart and get collar wise quicky, so if you train with the electric collar only as a corrective tool (even if you just use the vibrate setting) your Weim will only behave when that collar is on his neck!
Your Weim’s Leash
Collars are one half, and leashes are the other half of the equation for a nice walk with your Weim.
My favorite leash is a jaeger leash that is about 8 feet long and has snaps on both ends. There are a couple places to snap each side, so you can wrap it around your waist, over your shoulder, or make one side into a handle.
I also like it because I can take my Weims to a coffee shop and wrap their leashes around the table without having to unhook them from their collars.
You’ve probably see it all over the place, retractable leashes are BAD! Dangerous! Deadly!!!
Sometimes I wonder if these messages are simply a sad commentary about the general dog owning public. Let’s get this straight — retractable leashes are only as bad as the people who are operating them.
If you have an unruly puppy, and you decide to put that puppy on the end of a retractable leash, you are going to have all the problems that people blame the leash for: uncontrolled behavior, injuries from the cord, etc. That’s not the leash’s fault.
So, here’s my rule before I use a retractable leash: My dogs must be able to walk appropriately on a regular leash before they get the right to a little more freedom on a retractable leash. That’s it. If they cannot do it on a regularly leash, they certainly aren’t ready to be on a retractable!
DIY No-Pull Leash
Regular leashes and retractable leashes do nothing to help with leash training.
Even if you don’t have the right type of collar with you, you still don’t have an excuse to let your dog pull. Use the ol’ field trial
gut cinch/colon squeeze half-hitch method. It’s a little trick that those that participate in field trials use all the time.
Just use your existing regular leash, clip it to the collar (or use a slip leash), run the leash down your Weim’s back, go under the belly and loop it back through the leash and you are done.
When your Weim pulls, instead of putting pressure on the neck, it will squeeze the gut. It’s uncomfortable for your dog when that happens so he won’t pull.
By the way, I saw another “no pull leash” on the market. At less than $20 it’s not a bad deal, but I was actually a little… well, miffed, that someone would try to sell such a thing when it’s basically the half-hitch that you can make with your existing leash.
Tools are just that, tools. If you want a dog to walk nicely without any doo-dads, use “Stand Like a Tree” and keep the tools on hand for those times life gets in the way of training!
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