Are you looking for a characterful dog, and you have plenty of time and space to invest in training? If so, then a Weimaraner could fit the bill. On a scale of 0-10 for exercise, the Weimaraner comes in at an 11 for energy, playfulness, and endurance. This makes the breed perfect for the active person who wants a dog to keep them company whilst hiking or running.
Will a Weimaraner fit into family life? Absolutely, as long as that includes plenty of time outdoors...and oh and be aware they are exuberant and inclined to knock young children over, so do better with older ones. Although the breed can be reserved with strangers, when you earn their trust they give affection freely and are loyal without fault.
Indeed this low shedding breed is easy to groom, just a quick slick over with a rubber brush and you’re done. But this belies their unusual looks with that silver-grey coat and light-coloured eyes earning them the appropriate name of “Silver ghost.”
Enough of their good looks, what of their intelligence? Well, the Weimaraner is a clever dog who catches on quickly (when he chooses to!) For the experienced owner who wishes to hone their training skills, then a Weimaraner is an exciting challenge. In addition, their reputation for fearlessness added to that deep bark, make them an excellent guard dog. Like two sides of the same coin, those features which make the Weimaraner such a great dog, can also make them a handful for the inexperienced pet parent. The easiest mistakes an owner can make are not giving their dog enough exercise and not understanding the importance of proper training. This owner can expect to be sussed out by the fur friend who then runs rings around them, both physically and mentally.
The under-exercised Weimaraner (and bear in mind they can run all day) is liable to create their own entertainment by barking, chewing, escaping, or demolishing the house. This is in addition to other character traits such as:
- Being head-strong and choosing not to listen
- A strong predatory instinct towards animals smaller than themselves such as cats or pet rabbits
- Thinking they are superior to all other dogs and trying to dominate them (without due respect for dogs that are aggressive.
- Acting aloof and reserved with strangers.
Call it a plus or a minus, but the Weimaraner likes to be around those thy trust. However, the downside is they can easily suffer from extreme anxiety when left alone and separated from those they love. This distress shows itself as barking (to the annoyance of neighbours), toileting in the house, or destructive behaviour such as chewing furniture. It’s possible to train a Weimaraner to accept solitude, but if the anxiety is well-established this can be a real challenge.
As for that predatory instinct, it’s what Weimaraners were bred to do so beware your pet cat or other small furry family members! And know that the Weimaraner needs plenty of space, so apartment living is not for the Silver ghost.
And finally, a word of caution about their health. The deep narrow chest of the Weimaraner puts them at special risk of the life-threatening condition called bloat (gastric dilation and volvulus or GDV.) Because of this it’s essential to feed a good quality, low fermenting food, and avoid exercise after eating. Other health problems the breed is prone to include hip dysplasia and joint problems, blood clotting disorders, and cancer.
Weimaraners have a seemingly endless amount of energy, and if your dog is fizzing like a lit firework he’s never going to concentrate on training. A basic requirement is to provide plenty of physical activity, with at least two, 45 minute energetic walks a day. Up the ante by playing Frisbee or fetch. If you can’t trust his recall then use a longline so he can stretch his legs but your still have control. Don’t overlook these exercise sessions are an opportunity to train. As your dog runs towards you, Frisbee in mouth, say “Come”, and give a reward. That way he’ll be trained to recall without even noticing.
Weimaraners are intelligent dogs so you need to out-smart them and stay one step ahead. Do this by reading about reward-based training, attending classes, and anticipating what your dog does and why. Then by having a strategy in place, you can instantly correct an undesirable behaviour and stop it become a habit. For example, know that shouting at a barking dog rewards him with attention. Instead, ignore the barking and distract him with a squeaky toy. You can then get him to sit and reward this good behaviour instead.
To train a Weimaraner means a combination of exercise and mental stimulation. To be effective you need to stick to certain basic rules, which include the 3Cs: Clear: Have a clear set of commands that everyone uses. Remember, English is a foreign language to your dog so using “Down” and “Drop” for the same action will confuse him. Decide on command words and stick the list on the fridge door so the family know the correct cues to use. Consistent: Apply all house rules consistently. No feeding from the table means just that 7 days a week, with no exceptions at the weekend. Cues: Use the tone of voice to guide your dog and give verbal cues to mark good and bad behaviour. Let your know he’s about to make a wrong choice with a short, sharp, “Uh no”, followed by a happy “Good boy”, when he does as asked.
Some behaviours such as running away or digging are self-rewarding. In other words, the dog enjoys the thrill of the chase and when he sees a cat, takes off without a second thought. The worst thing you can do is shout and shout, so he becomes deaf to a command, lose your patience, and then punish him when he eventually does return. Use training aids such as a longline (or even a muzzle if he’s liable to hurt what he catches) so you stay in control. This allows you to work on his recall, by asking once nicely, asking twice firmly, and then reeling the non-responder in.
here is a basic lexicon of commands which when properly learnt mean you can cope with most situations. These commands are: Sit Stay Look Come Leave It. When your Weimaraner has a firm grasp of these you can stop him dashing into the road, distract him from that cat, and stop him eating that bar of chocolate. How useful is that!
A Weimaraner’s active mind needs to be kept busy as he’s easily bored and he’ll make his own fun. Here are few ideas to provide much needed mental stimulation. Put a treat inside a cardboard box and let the dog chew his way in Wrap food inside a rolled up newspaper and tape it closed. Ditch the food bowls and use puzzle feeders instead Scatter his kibble over the grass so he has to go searching for it. Engage him in active play session for at least 20 minutes twice a day.
Weimaraners can be destructive so for peace of mind when you’re out, crate train. The crate is the dog’s den, a place of safety to call his own. Make it enticing with toys and treats, and heap praise on him when he goes inside. Feed him in the crate so he builds strong associations with good things. Once he’s regularly going inside, shut the door for a few seconds, praise calm behaviour and open the door whilst he’s quiet. Build up the amount of time with the door closed, until he’s accepting and can safely be left in there unattended.
Weimaraners hate being alone and are prone to over-anxiety when left which results in the dog soiling himself, chewing furniture, digging, or barking. Not only is the dog distressed in your absence but you come home to irate neighbours or destruction. Instead, slowly build the dog’s independence by not allowing him to follow you around the house. Have him stay in one room while you briefly visit another. Return when he is quiet and calm (not when he is crying, or you are rewarding the noise.) Also, vary your departure routine. For example, avoid always putting your shoes on immediately before leaving the house, and instead wear shoes whilst doing household chores. Do a similar thing with your coat, and carry car keys around but without leaving the house. All of which helps diffuse the cues telling him he’s about to be left.
Small children or the elderly are liable to be knocked over by a boisterous Weimaraner, so anticipate this and train them not to jump up. Teaching a solid “Sit” is a great start, as is keeping a lead on in the house so you can step on it when the dog goes to jump up. Get into the habit of taking a step backwards when he jumps up, and reward him for sitting. And don’t forget – plenty of exercise means less energy for bouncing.
Train every time you remember you have a dog. Keep treats on you and teach “Sit,”, “Stay”, “Down”, and “Look”, as you move around the house. And don’t be too proud to seek professional help if you’re struggling. The more you delay, the more established bad behaviour becomes.