Before you begin training your Weimaraner to hunt, he needs to learn a few basic commands. When he is ready, you can start systematically teaching your puppy how to hunt with you.
But even before you start to teach your new puppy some basic obedience commands, you need to acclimate him to you, your family and your home.
During your puppy’s first few weeks in your home, she will watch, smell, and listen to everything that goes on in her new home.
Spend as much time as you can, getting to know your new puppy. This will help her feel part of the family (pack) and help her feel at ease, after leaving her mom and siblings. Perhaps your dog’s most important lesson at this point is learning to recognize her name.
Basic Commands – The First Step
Before you even consider teaching your Weimaraner to hunt, she needs to learn basic commands.
And she needs to obey your commands consistently. Only then will she be ready to learn hunting skills and commands.
To be successful at teaching your dog basic commands, you need to establish yourself as the leader of your Pack or family. When you do, your dog will naturally want to please you and obey every command.
In order to establish your dominance in the Pack, you need to follow 5 Golden Rules:
- Food – You, as the alpha, control the food. In the wolf pack, the alpha eats first, followed by the others (when the alpha is done).
- Calm in Danger – You need to stay calm and in control when there is perceived danger. This includes visits by the postman, cars passing the house or a dog walking past the house. The alpha is in charge and decides when a dangerous situation is important.
- After separation – When the alpha returns to the den, he ignores the others until they calm down. This helps them know that the alpha survived danger outside of the Pack and that the alpha is still in charge.
- Everything on your terms – You make the decisions. You decide when you will take a walk. You decide if your dog will go with you in the car. You initiate everything. You, not your dog, are in charge.
- Walking together – Teach your dog to walk with you, both on and off the leash. This is an important first step to get ready for teaching your Weimaraner to hunt.
You can learn more about how to initiate these rules and become the Pack leader by watching the Doggy Dan videos course and interacting on his dog training forum.
When you have become the alpha in your Pack, teaching your dog to sit, stay, and come will be easy.
Command Respect, Not Fear
To be a good hunting dog, a gun dog must have a strong desire to hunt and find game. Some of this is inbred and some is learned. But, without the love of hunting, a dog is useless in the field.
Equally important, your dog must be obedient. Not sometimes, but every single time you ask something of him. This comes from respect, and is earned when you establish yourself as the alpha.
Never use fear or intimidation as a motivator with your dog. Not only would this destroy the bond you have with your dog, it also leads to problem hunting behaviors:
- Blinking game – This is when the dog avoids game.
- Bolting – This is when your dog disobeys your commands and runs off to hunt for game himself, to return to the truck or to the kennel.
- Hard mouthing – This is the opposite of soft mouthing. The dog crushes or even eats the game that was shot instead of retrieving the game and taking it to his owner.
How to Get Started with Hunting Training
Dogs in the wild learn a lot by trial and error. We can help our dogs get beyond this step. That’s because they also learn by imitation and by repeating something that resulted in praise.
When teaching your dog hunting skills,
- First teach the behavior you want
- Train your dog so the behavior is consistent, every time
- Give the command in different settings, so your dog obeys every time
- Practice the behavior frequently to reinforce it
The Weimaraner is considered to be an all around hunting dog. They excel at hunting, tracking, pointing and retrieving both on land and in the water.
Earliest Pre-Hunting Skills
As soon as you bring your new puppy home, training begins. Teach your puppy his name and socialize frequently with him each day. Work with him on basic obedience commands. Be gentle.
This is the time to introduce your puppy to the outdoors. Choose a location where you can let your puppy run without constantly calling her back or badgering her. Pick a place away from busy roads and distractions.
Let your puppy roam and explore fields, woods, ponds or creeks. She will experience new sights, smells and sounds. These will be familiar and come in handy later when you are hunting together.
At this early age, you can start to teach retrieving with a knotted hand towel. When he is able, switch to a small canvas buck or boat bumper. Use a toy cap pistol or a clap of your hands when you throw the buck for the puppy to retrieve.
Gently work on COME and WHOA commands with no pressure to perform.
Your Weimaraner puppy needs to exercise and run each day. This is a good way to give him exercise and get him used to the hunting locale.
Puppies 3-6 Months Old
Skills to Learn
Continue to work on early skills and now switch to a large canvas boat bumper to practice retrieving.
Teach your dog the COME, KENNEL and STAY or NO commands (to stay in the car or kennel until told to unload). Start with verbal commands and then add hand and whistle signals.
A good command to practice is DROP or DROP IT. This is important for all puppies, but especially so for hunting dogs.
Take your Weimaraner for short rides in the car or truck. Many puppies get carsick, and you’ll want your puppy to be comfortable with a ride. When you go for a ride, practice “loading”.
To give your puppy the idea, you might start practicing with his crate or box on the ground. With a lead rope on her collar, command LOAD or KENNEL and guide your dog inside.
When your dog is ready, you can practice LOADING onto the truck. If you have a low truck, work your way up to a higher truck or tail gate.
Fencing is simply negotiating various kinds of fences that you and your dog will encounter when hunting.
One of the best ways to teach fencing is to take your dog out with an older experienced hunting dog. Most dogs will learn to jump fences or look for low or broken areas along a fence that they can negotiate.
You can also take your dog for walks where she will come upon low fences. Walk over the fences yourself and your dog will soon get the idea.
A word of caution. Don’t take your dog to an area where she will find an electric fence.
Teach your puppy to WHOA, first with a verbal command and later with a raised arm signal.
You can start to practice pointing with your Weimaraner now. This is when the dog locks into position when she has discovered birds. The hunter then walks in and flushes out the birds for a shot.
Introducing Noise to a Gun Dog
During this period, it’s a good idea to start exposing your dog to louder noise and gunfire. When your dog is excited (mealtime), make noise. You can bang stainless bowls together or shoot a cap pistol from a distance.
Watch your dog’s reactions closely. When the cap pistol seems OK, switch to a .22 blank pistol and continue to get your dog used to loud noises.
Hunting Puppies 6-9 Months Old
There are steps to teaching your dog to retrieve:
- Obedience commands are mastered
- Teach the dog to sit while holding an object, say a dowel, in his mouth. He should not bite into it or mouth the object.
- Now teach the dog to DROP IT or GIVE and release the object to your hand.
- When your dog will sit and hold for several minutes, teach her to walk at heel, still holding the object. This step may take some practice and patience.
- Next, have your dog sit and hold the object, 5-10 feet from you. Give the HERE command. You are now practicing Delivery of the game.
- Teach your dog to sit in front of you when delivering the game to you.
- After he delivers the game, have him assume a heel position next to you.
Continue to practice voice, whistle and hand commands and signals. You can now add dead, cold pigeons for retrieving, with a pistol shot each time.
Practice working your dog on native game when you can. You can also shoot live pigeons, keeping your dog WHOA’D at heel until you tell him to retrieve.
When your dog reaches a year of age, you can start to take him hunting. Continue to practice his hunting skills and, if you have the opportunity, take him hunting with an experienced hunting dog.
Most importantly, make sure that you have assumed the alpha position in your family or Pack. You can easily do this, using the video training sessions here.
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