Weims get a bad rap for separation anxiety. And while I don’t believe that it is a breed trait per se, I do believe that this breed has a strong tendency towards it.
Read a bit of Weim history and it really all makes sense. Weimaraners were developed as companion hunting dogs and specifically bred to work in cooperation with their master. They are people-oriented, and let’s face it, we love this trait! So, it’s really easy for us to accidentally nurture separation anxiety.
But it’s also very easy to prevent. This is a prevention article. If your Weim already have an issue with separation anxiety, try going here.
Alone Training is a Socialization Exercise for Your Weim
Being pack animals, it is abnormal for dogs to experience too much isolation. Isolation in the wild means high risk of death, so when you think of the dog’s heritage, it is understandable that isolation is so distressing!
Since our modern lives require most Weimaraners to spend time at home alone, alone training should be considered a preventative step and an integral part of your training regimen when you bring a new Weimaraner into your pack.
Just as we socialize our new puppies and dogs to all the stimulation that a modern dog needs to accept as normal, we also need to teach our dogs to cope with the lack of stimulation and bouts of alone time.
Some people just naturally interact with their dogs in a way that prevents separation anxiety. Most Weimaraner people are not naturally this way! (*Raising hand – Guilty right here!)
- They don’t coddle their dog (*I don’t know if I coddle, but I love to love on my Weims!)
- They separate themselves from the dog (*Nope, I want to be with them.)
- They reward their dog for being calm (*I often forget to do this.)
How to Alone Train Your Weimaraner
Consider this very typical scenario.
In anticipation of bringing home a new puppy, you take a couple weeks off of work and proceed to spend 24/7 with the new pup. (Who can help it, he’s soooooo cute!) Two weeks later, the day to go back to work arrives, and suddenly, your puppy has to cope with a big black VOID for 8+ hours.
In the wild, a puppy would be vocalizing to get back to the pack. His life would be in danger. He’ll be screaming in your house in the same way. And he may be tearing the place up while he’s at it.
You can’t expect a puppy to just accept isolation, you need to ease him into this. And rewarding your pup for being calm in your presence is a great place to start. I also like Ian Dubar’s suggestion of alternating play and calm times with your puppy.
All you need to do to prevent separation anxiety is to start your new Weimaraner on a schedule that allows for lots of coming and going on your part, so that he knows this is normal. With repetition of your short and varied absences, he will learn that you will always return. Varied absences means that you are leaving at unpredictable times.
The crate is the best tool to help you. Start by crating him with the door open and praising him for hanging out in there. Next, close the door for a second. Next time, go outside while he’s crated in the house for a few minutes. Extend the time each time, but be sure to return before he starts getting anxious. Putting him in a crate when he’s tired after playing would be a good time.
As you start leaving your Weim in his crate longer, be sure to leave good chew toys in his crate so he can stay occupied. A Kong with peanut butter frozen in it, some chewies, or a kibble dispensing toy (If you clicked through that link [aff], yes, I really do love Kong products. I still have one from 20 years ago, for reals!) are all good choices.
Before you go back to work, you should have incrementally extended his alone time to the full length of time he will be alone when you are at work.
You’ve also just crate trained your puppy!
You gotta love the efficiency, and moreover, you gotta love being able to leave the house knowing your pup is safe and relaxed. For a young puppy, remember that he cannot hold it all day and will need a mid-day break out of his crate at least.
A Word of Caution The Crate Along with Alone Training
Ever hear those stories where a well-meaning owner dutifully crate trains, and ends up with a Weim that still has separation anxiety?
I’ll bet ya dollars to donuts that these people only put their Weim in a crate when they left the house. Crate training can be sent to a backwards spin if the crate is only used during alone training! Almost all crate training problems I have heard of with Weimaraners have been caused by this association.
A properly crate trained Weimaraner that has had its exercise and potty needs met should sleep all day while you are at work (again, with appropriate breaks).
For many adult Weimaraners brought up this way, full house benefits when you are at work may be in their future as a trust worthy adult that happily relaxes knowing that you will return later.
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How to Treat Separation Anxiety in Weimaraners
Separation anxiety in Weimaraners is a common problem! Here are tips on how to treat this problem backed by the most recent research.
Are You A Hostage To Your Weimaraner?
Owning a Weimaraner with separation anxiety is like being on lockdown. Why are Weims prone to separation anxiety? What can you do?
We have taken on a 1yr old Weimaraner because another family member couldn’t keep it. We live on 11 acres that is not fully fenced and she has recently discovered how to venture out. Any tips on training a Weimer to stay in its territory and to be afraid of the road?
Traditional fencing would be best with an electric fence as another option. The problem with Weimaraners is that sometimes deterrents will not work if they are chasing critters or there is a super enticing reason to climb the fence or go through the shock. Also with a newly acquired Weimaraner, you may not want to leave her out alone until she learns to accept being confined.
First an foremost, dig in and learn about Wiems. This might not be the breed/dog for you. If you determine he/she is for you, then you must finish the above ground fence. NO under ground fencing. Dogs learn by sight and hearing. The risk of equipment failure is not worth the physical and emotional outcome. Wiems. are sensitive. Equally important, underground fencing does not keep predators out. One could come in and chase him/her out and your Wiem. will be vulnerable and have no way to get home to be protected. Fear of the road?? That is never going to happen.
We had 2 Weims. Lucy died in July and now Ally cannot stay at home by herself. If we go out to dinner we take her and leave her in the car (Windows Open) … or we have a sitter. Lucy was 12 when she died and Ally is 6. Ally goes to the office during the day and is very well behaved. She used to go lay on the sofa when we left. But now that Lucy is gone she drools and barks at the back door. I thought of getting a puppy but I am concerned that won’t work and it will cause a bigger problem. Any ideas. I almost forgot. She does not crate.
Another dog should work, but you may create the same problem with the new puppy unless you actively crate and alone train the pup. Perhaps a better idea would be to adopt an older dog that has no SA instead. Good luck!
We had a similar issue with one of our elders passing a year ago. His partner, a year younger became a slouch. Wouldn’t move off the couch. We debated getting a pup; would it be too energetic for the elder, or would the elder get jealous? It was a tough decision, but after ten months, these guys are best of buds and the older girl who wouldn’t move acts like shes seven again. My two cents is, these guys are pack animals and need a pack – i say go for it.
Have a 11 silver female ( Lucy ) . Have a 10 year old male ( Norman ) . Lucy has cancer and is not going 2 be with us much longer . Will be picking up new blue male puppy in 2 weeks . I was looking for some advice about crate training and any other tips that can be given
Hi, you might want to look at our articles on puppies. You can do a search on the search page and a lot of stuff will come up! 🙂
Dog training? I do believe that one of the important keys to a successful dog training is making yourself the pack leader. Establish first your role as a leader and everything will be easy.
We recently rescued our second Wiem. We have had our first one for two years and is fully crate trained. The new one is about 2 years old and has to be with us everywhere we go. We want to crate train this one as well. How should we go about doing this?
The foster family that had him before us said when placed in a crate, he would bark all day and mess in the crate and thus be in it all day.
Oh my, you have some bad habits to overcome if he had a history of barking and messing his crate. Your crated trained dog could maybe help the one that isn’t. Is the new one OK if crated next to the other one? You can also try the same thing as you would a baby puppy and you might have to progress even slower due to his bad experiences in the past. I would give it a try… Let us know how it works out
I only crate trained for the purpose of an emergency. If I needed to load them up and get out in a hurry, I did not want them to be fearful of the crate. My one dog took months as she was terribly abused. I threw treats on the floor somewhat near the crate and eventually over a long period of time they were in the crate. I NEVER CLOSED THE DOORS AT THIS POINT. These crates were also their night time sleep place. Probably another month went by and one day I closed the doors, but only for 30 seconds. Now I could begin to have brief periods with the doors closed while I was home. Time is on you side. Don’t be in a hurry with crate training. You will regret it and quite possibly your animal may never really enjoy their crate. My other Weimaraner was much faster. He too had some small issue, but I took my time and he got past it. Same process, but he had the benefit of my other dog imitate.
I have a gorgeous weim who is very nice – to people but has turned into a dog attacker when off the lead. I am so saddened by this and as she needs plenty of off lean exercising I cant always keep her on the lead. HELP! (ps she was attacked by another dog a while ago and aggressive behaviour started since then slowly getting worse. )
What does she do exactly, go up to other dogs and then start attacking? Is it only certain dogs, or certain circumstances? Where are you located?
Was wondering if anyone could help me out: I’ve recently become the owner of a Weim puppy, she’s now 11 weeks old. I’ve alone trained her and she’s great with her crate. I work 5-6 hour shifts and I’m concerned that keeping her in the crate while I’m at work + the 8 hours while we sleep at night is too long. Would anyone with experience with this be able to give me some advice?
This is a pretty typical concern but I wouldn’t worry about it if she’s getting sufficient exercise otherwise. With the work you are putting in now, it will not be long before you can leave her with some loose house privileges so she will not be “cooped up” like that forever. Normally dogs sleep about 16 hours a day so you’ll probably find that even when she’s loose and you are at work, she’s probably sleeping. You may even be surprised to find that your dog will seek out her crate anyway as her own choice.
i have a four year old rescue weim that i’ve taken in this week. should i focus on bonding with the dog for the near future, or do i need to immediately start alone training — and would you crate a 4 year that grew up in the country?
That’s a great question. I would still crate a 4 year old that grew up in the country. You don’t always have to crate her, but if you train her, then at least you have the option in case you need to.
Also, I do think you bring up a good point about the importance of bonding with a rescue, but since alone training starts with really short spurts in the crate anyway, I think you’ll have ample time to bond.
I just got my new weim a week ago and I gate off a bedroom for him to stay in while I’m at work and he seems to do pretty good. My issue is that I let him stay in my bed at night for the first week. I tried putting him in the crate tonight but he got really vocal and cried and howeled. Do I need to spend more time getting him used to the crate? I had the door open during the day and he went in and laid down with no issue. He just hates it at night. Any help would be great!
Hi Brian, congrats on the new addition! Yes you probably need to spend more time with him getting used to the crate, and with the week he spent with you on the bed, it might be a little longer process in that he is going to try a harder than a pup who doesn’t know what the bed is like to get back on there. It’s not that he hates the crate at night he wants to be with you. So I would either out-stubborn him and you will have to be 100% strict with yourself to not let him up (or the training at night will just drag on and on) or you can choose to just let him sleep with you. I would encourage you to just crate train him at night and then allow him on the bed when he’s older. It is helpful to have a crate trained dog when you go stay over at someone else’s house for instance and not have to worry about a howling dog. Good luck!
We just got a 10 week old weim puppy less than a week ago. We are working on crate training him, but we cannot take time off of work to ease into this process, and so he is in the crate for 6 hours from the start. This is making it difficult for him to see the crate as a good thing and become comfortable with it. He cries and barks as soon as we put him in, and tries to fight going in the crate. We have also put him in for short periods of time while we are home to help him get used to it, but he cries and barks for the entire period he is in it. We always give him plenty of exercise before crating him. The first couple nights we also crated him at night, and he cried for about an hour before going to sleep. We felt bad having him spend all night and all day in the crate, so last night we let him sleep with us. Is 7 hours at night and 6 hours during the day too much time for a puppy to be crated, or would you suggest continuing to crate him at night? Any further suggestions on how we can get him to be more comfortable and calm in his crate? Since we don’t work weekends, we will try alone training in the crate for short periods of time then.
I have an 9 month old weim that I had previously crate trained (unfortunately I made the mistake of only putting her in it while we were out). Whenever she was alone she would bark, she never got use to being alone. Recently we started watching a second dog for a family member during this time her barking stopped. However, she started destroying things. I am not sure how to proceed with her, would you suggest starting over with the crate training? She is very smart and catches onto things quickly but she has some bad habits that need to be addressed. Me and my partner both work 9-5 type jobs so she spends a good chunk of her day alone. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Hard to say with this… It depends on how bad her anxiety is, but if she was previously crate trained, it might be worth trying again. Does the second dog crate up? You might be able to crate them side by side in the beginning. I would definitely try different things to see what works. What you want is to get any kind of relaxed behavior in there in the beginning. Get it whatever way you can in the beginning – use food, another dog, a bigger area, whatever. Then systematically make small changes, so fade out the food or other dog or start making the space smaller (if you want to). Good luck!
This is a very encouraging blog I must say! Thank you 🙂 We have just got a new female Weimaraner who is 10 weeks old. I have wanted a Weim since I was a kid. We have no children and we have a family sized house and a small/medium sized garden. I work 9-5 weekly (but can work at home from time to time) my partner works part time. So there will be at least 3 days where she (Gwen) will be by herself for 8 hours. We have only had her three days and already she is (thanks to this blog) happily spending time in her crate quietly (after crying for 10 mins). I have another two weeks off work to give her the best T&O aiming start I can before she spends a few days in the crate alone. This blog gives me hope that we can raise a happy healthy Weim that wind be too anxious or destructive as an adult. Most Weim enthusiasts would shoot us for having her I’m sure, but we want to make it work! 🙂 sorry for the lengthy post… It feels good to share with likeminded fellow! Ash.
Thank you so much for sharing Ash! I hope your comments will help others see that crate training can be of great benefit! Give Gwen some belly rubs from me! 🙂
I have a 9 week old bella and she cries as soon as placed in her crate she then chews the metal and has cut her mouth …..she has messed in her bed in the crate and often uses the bed as a toilet,she really doesn’t like the crate . We have tryed to train he in small doses just conserved about her ..
I think your articles are marvelous.i just bought a Weim puppy and Im trying to train him. Ive read the fundamentals article however I really dont know where to start. He is very obedient but i think this is because he fears me. He sometimes wont come when I call. He also seems sad at some times, im not sure if it is separation anxiety. Please help me start the right way,
Hi Pedro, thank you for nice comments! Is your boy about 8 weeks old? I would start with socialization and get him used to experiencing new things to bring his confidence levels up. I don’t know if your puppy has separation anxiety, but in general I do believe that there is a temperament component to it, so I think the best thing to do is to focus on his confidence rather than “obedience” per se.
I have a 8 month old weim and he is great when we leave him in his crate. He is not so good when he’s out though. He’s VERY hyper and it seems like nothing can get him to calm down. He is also very attatched to my husband and only listens to him. We are expecting a little boy in September and I am worried our weim is going to be very jealous of our new edition. Any advice on how to get him to calm down and do you think he will be ok around a baby?
I would be sure to spend time with your dog when he is out of his crate and exercise him both physically and mentally so that you don’t have to rely on the crate to calm him down. Make sure you are the one interacting with him, and feed him as well. All that will help establish your place as the boss in his mind. Most Weims do great with new additions but only if they are kept a part of the family. If you put him in a crate all the time due to his hyperactivity, a new addition that may require more crate time could potentially cause problems, so my suggestion is to work with his behavior out of the crate before the baby arrives.
Thank you for your wonderful tips! I am wondering , do you have tips on better establishing myself as the alpha female in the house? My Weimaraner is 8mo old and I am still having trouble getting across to her who’s in charge. My kids seem to get it, but Bailey is probably the most hard headed alpha dog I have ever, EVER, owned!