Training Weimaraners with a Clicker
Every dog has its quirks – little things they do that other breeds do not that could either make the training process far easier or infinitely more complicated. When it comes to training Weimaraners, the biggest issue is that they are so energetic.
Originally bred as hunting dogs and since then used for agility and outdoor exercises, they are loaded with more energy than a dog rightfully deserves. So, training can be especially rough if you don’t have the right tools.
Training Weimaraners with a clicker works especially well because of how intelligent and attentive they are when properly exercised and socialized. Clicker training can start as young as 10 weeks, though a puppy will have far less patience, so training sessions should be as short as possible.
How Clickers Work
A clicker is a small plastic or metal device with a button on it. When you press that button, it creates a sharp clicking sound. The human ear can pick it up easily, which means it will be very distinct to a dog’s far more acute sense of hearing.
When you use a clicker, you relay a single sharp piece of feedback to a dog – something so simple they can clearly understand it. Basically, after some initial training, Weimaraners will learn that the clicker means “perform this act for praise”.
Once you’ve taught the dog that the sound of the clicker means praise or treats are coming, they will work hard to identify the command you’re giving and respond to it.
The idea is simple. Dogs are conditioned to perform certain actions. Humans can think through a process and recognize benefits of performing far down the road. A dog cannot. A dog needs immediate feedback telling them that sitting when you say “sit” is good. A clicker provides that instant conditioning feedback.
Training Weimaraners with Your Clicker
To start, you need to train your Weimaraner to recognize the sound of the clicker as a sign of positive feedback. This is classical conditioning – when you combine two seemingly unrelated things to solicit an action.
In this case, you will use the clicker and then give your dog a treat. For each Weimaraner, the amount of time it takes to make the connection varies. In my experience, though, they figure it out pretty fast – usually in no more than an hour over the course of a day or two.
Once the dog knows that the clicker means “yay!” they will immediately respond when they hear it. So, now you need to get the dog to perform the action you’re aiming for. You can lure them, help them, or coax them – whatever is necessary to make them sit, lie down, or speak. Sometimes, they will do it naturally.
Training Weimaraners gets far easier at this point. Whenever the Weimaraner performs the action you’re targeting, you will click your clicker and then reinforce their behavior with a treat or reward.
Once the dog recognizes the behavior they are supposed to perform, you can start generalizing it by having them perform it in different places, for different lengths of time or farther from you.
Finally, add a command to the process and teach the dog to follow a verbal cue – in this case “sit” or “speak”. Over the course of a few days, the dog should be able to perform the trick without needing to hear the clicker.
Remember to only do one command at a time. Training Weimaraners with more than one command at a time can be confusing. Don’t worry – they will remember. You’ve just planted a seed deep in their brain and it’s unlikely to dislodge anytime soon.