Adonai's Weimaraners

Phase IV: Troubleshooting your Mission:
Dealing with problem behaviors

As you progress through your mission, you may encounter difficulties. This section will hopefully help you find solutions.
tool dog
Discipline Methods:


In the section on training tips we touched on “start and stop behaviors.” A start behavior would be when you are trying to get the Weimaraner to do something such as sit. A stop behavior is when you are trying to stop him from doing a negative behavior such as nipping. For start behaviors we strongly urge you to use positive reinforcement not punishment. For stop behaviors distraction ans substitution is appropriate. By distraction, we are referring to using your voice or a shake can to distract the puppy from what he was doing. A shake can is a metal can with coins or rock (or anything else that will make a loud noise) in it. Then substitute the bad behavior with one more appropriate. If he is chewing on the couch, distract him with your "no" or the shake can, and then give him an appropriate chew toy.
clipboarddog Before you begin…go over your checklist.
checkmark Consistency: Are you being consistent? Do you let your puppy jump on you in play, and then punish him for jumping when you are in your nice clothes? Training takes effort. You will need the energy to reinforce positive behavior and to and ignore or distract negative behavior EVERY TIME.

checkmark Voice Tone: Do you use a strong and firm enough voice when disciplining to distract him from what he was doing? Do you use a soft kind voice when praising?

checkmark Reinforcing appropriate behaviors: Are you reinforcing the right behaviors and not unintentionally reinforcing the wrong behaviors? For example, when your dog growls, barks or whines, if you calmly tell him… “That’s ok”…then you are reinforcing that behavior…and it will likely increase!

checkmark Finding the right buttons: Have you found your dogs buttons? Have you discovered what he will work for? Are tour treats tempting enough for him?

checkmark Time: Are you spending enough playtime with your dog so he is not bored or craving attention? Are you exercising him adequately so he does not have a lot of pent up energy?

checkmark Supervision: Do you adequately supervise your dog? A bored Weimaraner loose and unsupervised in the house is almost certain disaster. This is especially true during the house-training phase. Try never to let him mess in the house without you catching him doing it.

checkmark Cleaning up: Do you keep temping, but off limit chewables out of the dogs reach? If you don’t want him to chew on your shoes, keep them picked up. Does your trash can have a secure lid on it? Do you avoid leaving food items unsupervised on the counters?

If you are doing everything correctly on the checklist and are still having problems…read on.

Pee Pup
Potty Training:


Ok…if you puppy is over 6 months, you have tried everything we talked about in training tips, and he still goes on the floor on a regular basis; you may need to get him checked by a vet for a physical problem. If all is clear then reevaluate your checklist again. Make sure you are using a strong enough sound to distract him when you catch him in the act. If your voice is not enough, use a shake can or a loud horn. In addition, make sure you are taking him out and feeding him at regular intervals. Make sure you are watching him close, and have learned his “potty behavior” (many dogs will sniff the ground, turn in circles, or have a certain look on their face before they go potty). When you notice his “potty behavior” take him out immediately. Go out with him every time until he learns so you can reinforce the appropriate behavior.

pup on chair
Climbing on furniture:


Consistency is crucial when trying to correct this problem. You cannot let the Weimaraner up on the couch to cuddle with you one day, and then punish him for getting on the couch another day. If you want to cuddle with him…get on the floor with him. Then when he gets on the couch you can use a shake can or loud no…to get him off. Some people have recommended putting mouse traps on the couch…when the Weimaraner tries to climb up, the movement will cause the traps to shut, scaring the Weimaraner. We have never actually tried this method…so we cannot say how well it would work. There are also mats you can buy at pet stores or through pet catalogues that you put on the furniture. When the dog tries to climb on the mat will give him a mild unpleasant shock. Again we have never tried this…so we cannot say how well it works. Another more positive solution: Try giving him his own “couch”…an extra comfortable bed on the floor he can lay in.

protesting dog
Nipping:


This is an extremely critical problem area that needs immediate correction. Puppies mainly nip when they are over excited…which if allowed can lead to major problems when they are adults. Never let your puppy mouth you even in play. If the puppy does put his mouth on you, give a high pitched loud “eeek.” This is similar to the sound their littermate gave to warn them to stop a behavior. The puppies should immediately let go. If not then take hold their mouth, look them in the eye, and give them a firm "NO".

jumping dog
Jumping on people:


We have yet to meet a Weimaraner that did not have this problem at one time or another. Weimaraners love their people, and like to display their love by jumping on their people after a period of absence. Unfortunately most people do not appreciate this particular type of affection. One of the problems is that this behavior is reinforced as a puppy, but then frowned upon as the puppy grows. When a puppy comes and jumps up on your leg, most people think this is cute…the puppy gets picked up and cuddled. The jumping behavior is reinforced. Start from puppyhood. Do not let that cute cuddly puppy jump on you. When he does ignore him. If you can see he is going to jump…but before he jumps, give him an alternative behavior to do such as “sit” or “down, ” and then praise. You can also put him on a lead and have someone approach him. Keep him just out of reach of the other person. When he stops jumping around and settles let the other person approach. If he remains settled click and reward, then he can get attention from the other person. If he starts to jump have the other person back off until he settles. Then they can approach again. If the puppy is able to greet the other person without jumping on them...click and reward him.

Nervous Dog
Excessive barking:


First, determine the source of the barking…is he barking out of boredom or anxiety? Does he bark for attention or does he bark because he feels like he is protecting the house? The source can often determine the solution. If he is anxious, you may need to work with him to reduce his level of anxiety. Build his confidence by spending quality time with him. Give him a lot of praise. Teach him tricks. Sometimes teaching a dog to bark on command will lead to a dog that barks less often at other times. You may also need to try some of the solutions under the “separation anxiety” section.

Guarddog If he is barking out of a macho instinct to protect the house you may need to reduce his level of confidence. When this dog sees a stranger walk by, he barks. When the stranger has passed the house, the dog thinks his barking caused the stranger to leave. One solution is to get a squirt gun and fill it up with water, or even lemon juice. When the dog barks squirt him. This is even more effective if you have a friend (a stranger to the dog) squirt the dog while being barked at…and then leave only after the dog has stopped barking. Extra points if you get the dog in the mouth!!

If the dog is barking out of boredom, then make sure you are spending enough time with him, and exercising him enough. Buy him intriguing toys. Fill a hollow bone, or a “Boda ball” or Kong with peanut butter. Find ways to reduce his boredom.


Jail Dog
Separation Anxiety:


This is a particularly troublesome and difficult problem. This dog is likely to bark whine, howl, and dig excessively while you are gone. He may believe that his behavior is what returned you home. First use an airline crate so he is not destroying your house and possibly harming himself. These are more den-like and tend to make dogs feel more secure. Cover the crate with a blanket to make it even more den-like. Practice leaving for short periods of time (about 5 minutes). Differ your routine when leaving. Return only when he is quiet and calm. Never let him out of the crate when he is barking, only when he is calm and quiet. Feed him dinner in his crate so it will not seem like such a bad place. Leave him with his breakfast or frozen peanut butter in several kongs inside the crate so he will be occupied with getting the food out while you are gone. You can also use interactive toys such as the Buster Cube. Some people have reported success with leaving the TV on Animal Planet. You can also videotape him while you are gone to see how long he is actually acting up (most dogs only act out for the first 10 minutes).

All these suggestions are BABY STEPS! Seperation Anxiety is difficult, but it can be managed, and conquered.

Bunny Dog
Destructive behavior:


This behavior is certainly easier to prevent than cure. Make sure you keep tempting objects out of the dog’s reach and supervise him. Crate training also helps prevent this behavior, as well as providing him with some intriguing toys of his own. If you catch him in the act of tearing up something you can use the shake can or a firm “NO.” Then take the object away and give him something appropriate for him to chew. If he has chewed up something, and you find out after the fact, there is really nothing you can do. He has likely forgotten about it.

There is some controversy about whether a weimaraner should be left alone in the house when the owners are away. There are stories of weimaraners who were, for years, very good alone in the house...but then one day someone might come to the door, or a squirrel or cat antagonizes the dog through the window and something gets destroyed. We actually have a weimaraner that we left loose in the house while we were gone. We had no trouble for 8 years until one day she accidentally got locked in my son's bedroom while we were away, and tried to dig herself out. We ended up with a large hole in the carpet by the door! While many weimaraners after the age 2 can be left alone without getting in trouble...excercise caution. If you can not live with the possibility of something getting destroyed while you are away, it may be best to keep your weimaraners crated when you are gone.

If your weimaraner is consistently destructive he is likely bored. Get him involved in some type of activity such as field training, obedience, agility etc. This can help take the edge off.

Extended Down Pup
Hyperactivity:


The number one cure for a hyperactive dog is EXERCISE! Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise. IN addition make sure he is not getting bored. If you are giving him lots and lots of exercise, teaching him new tricks, spending time with him and he is still a bit hyper here is an exercise that may help. This exercise is also good for particularly stubborn dogs that constantly challenge you for "top dog" status*. Teach this command with the lead on. Simply give the command for down…have the puppy lay down, say "stay" then put the lead under the leg of a chair you are sitting on. Make the lead short enough so that the puppy cannot stand up comfortably. Therefore he has the choice to lie down and be comfortable, or try to stand and be uncomfortable. When he is lying down, pet him gently. Stop if he is trying to stand. After the puppy lies quietly for a while, give the release command, let him loose click and reward and praise him. After he understands this command, he should be able to lie down and stay without the lead on, until released by you.


Guarddog
Aggression:


This is the most worrisome of all behaviors and must not be tolerated. If the dog is aggressive because he is fearful , you will need to get a very qualified animal behaviorist, and a lot of time and effort to help combat this problem. If the dog is aggressive because of his misunderstanding of the dominance hierarchy* in the home, then you will need to reestablish your dominance. Dogs should always be the lowest one on the totem pole, even below a baby. Many times a weimaraner will disagree with this and believe he is dominant, and therefore you may see some aggressive behavior (growling). One of the best ways to solve this problem is to act like a dog. When the dog shows dominance or aggression, immediately put the dog on his side and hold him down, or even lay on him. (This may take 2 people if the dog is large). Hold the dog down until he stops struggling. If the dog puts up a big struggle, you may need to growl or bark at him and stare him in the eye. Once he is calm then you can let him up. Even though this sounds very silly, it is the way dogs show each other dominance, and can be a very effective method for humans to also show a dog dominance. Keep in mind you may need to do this more than once before your dog finally gets the point.

It is very important before you attempt to reestablish dominance that you understand exactly why the dog is aggressive. If he is aggressive out of fear…the dominance roll will only make matters worse!! If you are unsure consult with a qualified animal behaviorist.

A Final Note:


One final very important note about training: there are a lot of different training methods available...some great, some ok, some not so good. It appears to me that many authorities on dog training tend to take their views to extreme. On the positive dog training extreme...absolutely no correction, harsh voice of any kind. All positive all day (and night). Another extreme is with the dominance hierarchy people...no cuddling, no praise, the dog is not allowed on furniture, beds, certain rooms, the dog cannot go through the door first, can never win a tug of war. You must never feed the dog unless he works for the food. In addition you must always be on the alert for the dog who is about to take over the house. Then there are several other camps and variations which I do not have the time and space to go over.

While the majority of the training I do is from the positive training camp...I do occasionally borrow from the dominance hierarchy people if the situation warrents. I do occasionally correct my dogs with a strong "No" or a snap on the lead in the show ring for a distracted dog. I have had occasion to use the dominance roll, and it worked. I do strongly support positive dog training and the majority of time with the majority of dogs it is all you need. But taking it to extreme in every circumstance with every dog will severely limit what you can do, and may end up giving you an out of control dog. Start with the positive training methods, but adjust to what is needed. Consult with a trained professional if you are unsure about anything.

Ok...one more final final note: I admit, I do let my dogs win in tug of war occasionally, and I do NOT care if they preceed me out the door. I also let my dogs on the downstairs couches, and occasionally they even sleep in my bed with me!! I cuddle often with my dogs, and I have yet to have one of my dogs take over my house!

If you run up against any other problems that are not listed here feel free to contact me.

Phase I: Finding a Weimaraner Puppy
Phase II: Preparing for your puppy
Phase III: Training your puppy (or dog)
Phase IV: Handling Problem Behavior
Phase V: Grooming