BRINGING A NEW DOG HOME
An adopted Weimaraner brings with it, his or her baggage from their former lives. They have often been through a lot, even if they have not been abused. They form strong attachments to their families, that when they are relinquished, they will go through a short grieving process. They may be scared, confused and/or depressed. They are individuals. They have their own personalities, quirks and histories, which have served to mold their character. What works for one, may not work for another. You just have to be patient, open and listen to their needs.
Determine where your dog will be spending most of his time. Because he will be under a lot of stress with the change of environment (from shelter or foster home to your house), he may forget any housebreaking (if any) he’s learned. Often a kitchen will work best for easy clean-up.
You should already have a crate setup in what will be it’s normal place. Weims do not like to be crated in the basement (even a finished one) or too far from their family. Try to find a place that is close enough that they can hear you breathing at night or see you.
Dog-proof the area where your pooch will spend most of his time during the first few months. This may mean taping loose electrical cords to baseboards; storing household chemicals on high shelves; removing plants, rugs, and breakables; setting up the crate, and installing baby gates.
Training your dog will start the first moment you have him. Take time to create a vocabulary list everyone will use when giving your dog directions. This will help prevent confusion and help your dog learn his commands more quickly.
Bring an ID tag with your phone number on it with you when you pick up your dog so that he has an extra measure of safety for the ride home and the first few uneasy days. If he is microchipped, be sure to register your contact information with the chip’s company, if the rescue or shelter did not already do so.
Do not let him off leash when not in a fenced in area until you are sure he is properly trained to respond. They love to run. No matter how much they may have bonded with you, they can be easily distracted by wildlife or other stimulus and take off.
Plan on being home for a few days to allow time for your new Weim to adjust to their new house and new family members. Do not come home and then leave them alone while you run errands or go out to dinner. Stay home. They need to feel a sense of security while they adjust to their new surroundings. On the second day, you can try crating them for short periods of time.
Establish your house rules immediately, but gently and firmly. Reinforce good behavior with praise or treats, but do not overly fuss or make a big deal out of it. Firmly establish boundaries like “off” for the sofa.
Each Weim will have a different timeframe for adjusting. You want enough time to introduce them to family members, the house, crating and the yard.
You should be able to move to what your normal workday routine is after the second day. If you wait too long to return to a normal routine, separation anxiety may become worse. It depends on the dog – work with the dogs foster family (if you are adopting) – have patience. It will take time to work out your relationship.
Have their bed, food bowl, water bowls all ready in their place. Have toys just for him or her. If you have multiple dogs, make sure you have new toys that are just for your new Weim. Do not allow other family pets to lie on the bedding or use the new bowls or toys. Allow your new Weim the 1st opportunity to scent his items.
Exploring and sniffing
Expect your Weim to check out everything in the house. They will sniff everything. They will poke into everything, investigate every inch of the house and yard. They are hunting dogs and search by scent. Sniffing is not always an indication that they are looking for spot to potty. Make sure they have had the opportunity to potty outside before entering the house for the first time.
Introducing them to their new family
Everyone should be home upon the arrival of your new Weim. Weims are very protective and family oriented animals. They need to know immediately everyone who belongs to the family. Children, spouses, and other family members should be in the home when you bring your Weim in the door. This makes it clear to the Weim who the family members are and establishes a family boundary with which they will associate.
Allow the Weim to approach each person on his/her own. Do not allow children to run up to the dog or yell or scream at the dog. Let them come to you.
When introducing a Weim to a multi-dog family, it is best that they meet on neutral territory.
Use a park, baseball field, or other outdoor facility that is not familiar to either dog. Keep both dogs on their leads. Allow them to sniff each other. If the weather is inclement, you can use a friend’s house where there are no other dogs, or dogs with which your first dog is unfamiliar. Ask the owner to keep their animals out of sight. This allows the dogs to meet in similar circumstances, where territorial boundaries are not established for either dog.
You can use a towel or cloth to introduce your dog’s scent to your new Weim. You can rub it on your dog or his/her bed and take it with you when you pick up your new Weim.
A Weim’s own space
Have a quiet time place for your Weim established BEFORE he/she comes home. It may be next to or near your other dog, or in separate rooms or his/her own bed in the family room. Their crate is an excellent place to start – it’s only used by them and no one else…it’s their own space.
Weims are very family oriented which includes another dog and seem to do best when they are placed with another dog.
Practice crating during times when it is not necessary. Ask them to go into their crate with the command that you choose. Have them stay for just a moment or two and then give a treat reward with an upbeat praise. Repeat and gradually lengthen the time they stay inside.
Make sure that family members, especially children know that if your Weim goes to his/her crate or bed voluntarily, they are NOT to disturb them. Do not allow children to crawl into their crate or wallow on their bed. Just like people, dogs need quiet time too. Respect their needs for a break.
Feeding and activities
Make certain that you follow a very solid routine for feeding your Weim, as well as an activity schedule. This makes potty training, quiet time and temperament so much more predictable. Sure there are times when schedules simply have to change – stash a few treats in your car, for rewards of patience while they wait in the vehicle on your errand runs.
Weims usually drink lots of water, although they will adjust their water intake based upon activity levels and environmental conditions and water content in their food. Weims also have an unusual peculiarity about the manner in which they drink – they dribble water from the sides of their mouths when they raise their heads. Most Weim owners learn to live with their kitchen floors being wet all the time, but there are things that you can do to minimize the mess. Place a towel or tray under the water bowl. Using a long trough shaped dish instead of a round bowl give them a place to dribble. You can also teach your Weim to wait just a second before walking away from the water bowl, but it does take consistent, gentle reminders from you. Make sure that you provide lots of fresh water daily.
Try to include at least one hour of vigorous activity daily with your Weim. Running, walking or ball chasing are all great ways to get them exercise as well as yourself. Try to vary your activities if possible as Weims have a tendency to get bored because of their intelligence level.
If you rescue an abused Weim there are so many things that you will have to discover on your own. What makes them scared? What sets off retaliatory behavior? What keeps them from progressing in confidence?
Often they come malnourished, poor skin and coat condition and quirks in their behavior that may not make sense to you. It is important for you to be very patient. Start slow with introductions. Everything from meeting new people, giving them rich, nutritious food, certain toys and even your tone of voice can be scary and confusing to an abused Weim.
The number one cure all for an abused Weim is love; kind and patient love that surpasses all queer behavior. Our number one piece of advice is to seek the help of a professional, especially if you are new to owning an abused animal.
It is not uncommon for a new Weim to “forget” their house training and have an accident in the house, the first day or two. Make certain you show them where to go when they need to potty. They will not instinctively know which door to go to if they need to potty and you will not know what their usual actions are to let you know they need to go out.
Go into the yard with them and walk the perimeter. Show them any off limit sights and gently direct them away from the area by their collar with the command “out”.
You will have to be very alert to learn their signals. Older Weims especially, will have distinct behavior patterns already established for this need. The first couple of successful times you can use a treat reward to let your Weim know that they are doing just great.
It is normal for your new Weim to have anxiety the first few days. They may pace, pant, have excessive drooling or water drinking. Do not use common ‘Good Dog’ phrases like “It’s OK” or “It’s alright” – you do not want to reinforce unwanted behavior. Try distracting them or redirecting their attention using treats or going for a long walk or play a game.
Chewing and other destructive behaviors
Chewing, especially for an adult Weim is a prime symptom of anxiety. You should always have healthy, safe toys for them, which allows good mental distraction to work through their frustration or fear. Try Kong toys, which are hard rubber chew toys in a variety of sizes and shapes but all include the ever important secret chamber……the hole where the treats go! Smear the inside with peanut butter, fill with kibble or apple chunks or low calorie treats to provide hours of healthy chewing. This saves your furniture and belongings, but also relieves their stress.
We recommend some form of supervised and/or assisted obedience training for EVERY Weim. It is good to let your new Weim adjust to their new surroundings for a while, before enrolling them in a command-oriented training. You’ll know when it’s time. They will be restless or start new unwanted behaviors or even cease to perform simple commands they once mastered well.
Weimaraners are very active dogs. Chewing and destructive behavior is very often a lack of exercise, so it benefits both of you mentally to schedule regular, interactive exercise. It is recommended that you provide at minimum one (1) hour of physical activity for your Weim daily, if not more.. Physical activity is as vital to not only their physical health, but also their mental development as is obedience and task training.
There are a number of ways to provide exercise for your Weim – Walking or jogging daily with your Weimaraner is an excellent way to provide the exercise they need and get your exercise also. There are several wonderful products on the market that allow you to walk or job hands free – even with multiple dogs! SuperLeash carries couplers, that can be used when walking multiple dogs. There are belts that you can wear that the leashes attach to…..many more options are available at your local pet store.
Locate a secure baseball field or park near your home. Baseball areas are most accessible during the winter months when children’s leagues are off season. Walk to the park, secure the gates and let them go. It is amazing how fast our Weims can run! Take a tennis ball and a Chuck-it with you. The Chuck-It sails the ball across the field and prevents you from having to touch a slimy ball! These are available at your local pet store.
You can also practice obedience and agility moves during this time as well. Some areas have dog friendly parks, but don’t forget to scoop the poop. NEVER leash your dog to a bicycle or motor scooter. Exhaustion and over heating will occur rapidly and you will not be as aware of their status.
Play time in your own yard can be fun for both of you. Provided you have a large fenced area, you can work on retrieval, manners, obedience or just simply throw the ball. Weimaraners need interaction from their masters and this hour can be well spent as a bonding/play time.
NOTE: Weimaraners are susceptible to BLOAT. As of yet, no one is certain how or why this occurs but it is deadly! A reasonable and widely accepted practice is NOT to feed a Weim one hour before heavy activities or two hours after. This allows their system to be at a natural resting state while trying to process food. Watch for excessive water drinking directly after play or during times of anxiety. Sure they should be thirsty after play, but not in taking a gallon in one sitting.