Question: I have a ten months old Weirmaraner dog, and regularly go to puppy classes. Even with all the training and practise I have been doing he still has a tendency to pull, and with his size and strength, I feel I need some extra help. I was wondering if you could advise me.
Answer: It is good to hear that you are attending training classes. I do get requests from handlers with canine behavioural problems that have not even bothered to enquire or enrol their dog into any classes. The Weirmaraner, like many other breeds, is an individual, however, I think this particular breed is one where training has to be persuasive rather than compulsive. Although at times one has to be firm with any dog, the emphasis should never be to push the dog too hard. It should not be necessary to resort to the use of physical correction, nor raise your voice. Ensure the dog understands what is required, never be in a hurry and try and keep yourself and the dog calm for, if the dog gets excited or agitated, you may as well give up for a while until it has settled down.
Handling Technique with any exercise and with any dog is important so you should listen to your training instructor. You have two problems with your dog. Firstly, keeping the dog’s attention on you. This can be done with treats or just a little more enthusiasm from you when trying to encourage the dog to look up at you. Do not be afraid to ‘play act’, pretend to run on the spot, act silly, rub you hands together, anything which will make the dog look at you. Secondly, simple lead handling. A dog can only pull if a handler is pulling the other end of the lead. So care has to be taken to see that in fact you are giving the dog an opportunity to walk with a loose lead. Heel-work in a training class is hard work, and with a difficult dog, a lot of work by the handler is necessary to keep the dog’s attention. Keep saying to yourself must keep the dog’s attention, must keep the lead slack. Use your lead in the right hand and a treat in the left if the dog works well with treats. Only give the dog the treat if you see a lack of enthusiasm or signs of boredom. .
Walking dogs out can be frustrating. On the way out the dog is excited and seems as though he always wants to get there before you, but, on the way back, you have a different dog. In addition to varying your route, the way you are performing your heel-work training, halting, stopping and turning will help. Lead handling again is important.
Having said that, selecting the correct training equipment is also important. Handlers at my classes all use the Juster or Double Action lead with the width, strength and weight (5/8″, 3/4″ or 1″) depending on the size and breed of the dog. We use half checks, the ‘Kombi’ rather than check/choke chains, or even flat collars. The no choke effect and the very effective rattle of the chain as an attentive measure really does help.
Using a ‘Dogalter’ with a Weirmaraner can be a great advantage. One lady told me after using a ‘Dogalter’ with her Weirmaraner bitch that it is now a pleasure to take the dog for a walk. Another lady who came with a very boisterous Weirmaraner dog, which she had no control over whatsoever, used a ‘Dogalter’ at the training classes and it made her training so much easier. The difference in control was evident, even on the next session of training. The advantage in using a head collar or halter is that the strength is taken from the dog. The head collar allows the handler to control the dog by the head. They most certainly have this calming effect on most excitable dogs. I always insist on using the ‘Kombi’ as well for safety and better control as the head collar acts like ‘power steering’ and the ‘Kombi’ allows for correction and control should the dog lunge forward unexpectedly. With any head collar a dog can pull its head out backwards, this is stopped if it is coupled with a ‘kombi’ half check collar or indeed an Action Collar. A dog can also damage his neck lunging forward with a head collar and the ‘Kombi’ will take away some of the strain.
For any pulling problem not accompanied by aggression, the ‘Stop Pull’ Harness or indeed the Complete Control Harness should be considered. Harnesses constructed from a thin rope or cord type fabric should not be used as they will cause chaffing and sores under the dogs forelegs. The ‘Stop Pull’ or Complete Control Harness does not have this effect. The Stop Pull Harness has the effect of lifting the front end of the dog when it pulls forward thereby taking the traction away from its forelegs. The Kumfi and Hi Control ‘Stop Pull’ harness is manufactured using thick and soft, supple webbing, with an added feature of the two soft sleeves which eliminate chaffing and soreness. This harness is an invaluable aid to stop dogs pulling. Alternatives can the Dogalter or the Stop Pull Headcollar.