Training the Weimaraner

Training the Weimaraner

In my opinion the Weimaraner, along with the other HPR breeds in the UK, has not suffered the schism common to some breeds of gundog in the other gundog groups, and become separated into distinct “working” and “show” types. Although it is true to say those who work their HPR will proudly refer to “working lines” within the pedigree of their dog.

However, I do subscribe to the belief that the natural aptitude for work within the weimaraner can be encouraged to emerge more readily from those dogs with a proven working heritage.

Any given Weimaraner pup has the potential, with the correct training and early exposure to situations where it can begin to utilise its inherited traits, and with due care, positive encouragement and reward, to develop into a useful working gundog.

There is a common adage used in the gundog world which states that “everything my dog does well is innate, its vices are entirely man-made”, and accordingly it is important not to rush the dog or place too much pressure on the dog during training.

“Proven” may simply mean that the dog earns its keep as a gamekeeper’s or water bailiff’s dog, or on shoots, on rough-shoots, and at grouse counting etc. or it may mean it has won awards in gundog tests and trials, and in particular field trials. Or even all of these activities.

Gundog Training:

It is the training for working to the gun, and for the various trials and tests of work as well as the actual working to the gun which enriches the daily life of the gundog and provides the necessary physical and mental stimulus that the gundog breeds, particularly the HPR and in particular the Weimaraner, need to fulfil their function

It stands to reason that the Weimaraner, being an HPR, will need training to hunt to a pattern across the wind, find and point game, be steady to shot and fall, and finally retrieve the shot game on command.

While much is made of the natural aptitude of the breed to be able to accomplish these things, training will be needed so that the dog remains under control and goes about its business in the most efficient manner. Structured training facilitates this.

If the dog has not marked the fallen game then a degree of directional control will need to be exercised upon the dog to get it into the general area of the fall so that it can then use its nose to complete the find. Directional training and confidence building will help the dog improve in this regard.

The dog may have to negotiate any number of obstacles such as ditches, fences, hedges, streams and rivers, or even have to swim to an island to retrieve the game.

The dog will also have to accomplish these tasks with any number of other distractions, such as other dogs, other birds falling and other shooters, particularly on driven shoots, less so on rough shoots and at field trials.

The dog will have to be trained to deliver the retrieve tenderly to hand, with confidence and efficiency, i.e. the most direct route with no deviation and no switching or dropping of game.

Training Aids & Scenarios:

The standard training equipment includes a 1lb canvas dummy (1/2lb for puppies), an Acme whistle (211.5 rating), a slip lead, progressing to starting pistol (for conditioning to the sound of gunshot), dummy launchers, rabbit skin and wings of traditional game birds for familiarising to scent and feel of fur and feather.

Finally the dog will move on to cold game retrieves and increasingly challenging scenarios, involving water, reed beds, woodland, nettles and dense cover.

The novice handler-trainer will himself need training so that his dog may be trained by him. Gundog training is a specialist task but not beyond the competence of the average dog owner, it just requires a degree of commitment and consistency.

Training Assistance:

The novice handler-trainer is not left in total isolation with his new Weimaraner as there are the breed clubs and specialist gundog trainers who provide suitable ground, training aids, experience and importantly like-minded people to help the novice dog and handler progress.

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