Dealing with Separation Anxiety

By Chris Conklin | Last Updated: July 22, 2021

Separation anxiety is a common problem with Weimaraners that can have many precluding factors, including but not limited: to genetics, litter rearing, dominance, submission and boredom or stress. The causes of separation anxiety are not nearly as important as is the need to overcome the behavioral manifestations of the condition.

Below is an ever-growing inventory of suggestions on dealing with these behaviors.

How to Leave Your House

The safest confinement methods must be used to prevent the dog from seriously injuring itself or doing severe property damage, often in the thousands of dollars.

The crate should become a ritual part of the pet’s day, consistently use the crate at scheduled times and often when you are home. If the crate is not an integral part of the dog’s day, the crate will soon become associated with separation.

A strong crate of the correct size is an important factor in helping anxiety prone dogs. Invest in a quality crate with sturdy welds; sometimes even a high quality plastic or wire crate may need further fortification depending on the dog, and there are various methods for reinforcing both types.

Many pets prefer the plastic kennels to the wire, as they afford a greater sense of security. In selecting a kennel, the height should measure taller than the dog can arch his back, and make certain you feel no give when you try to shake the door; the dog will frantically attempt escape through any areas it can feel movement. 

Position the crate in either the activity center of the home, the owner’s bedroom, or even have one in each area. The dog should not feel isolated; if you wouldn’t go there to sit and read a book, your Weim doesn’t want to be there either.

Never clean the kennel of his saliva or waste in his presence, as you will seem submissive. For bedding, use cheap blankets cut into quarters; if the dog destroys the blanket, little is lost. The dog should always have a blanket in his crate, even if he destroys it every day. The only exception is if the dog actually will ingest the blanket.

How to Feed Your Anxious Dog

Treats used in training should only be given outside the kennel; all other feeding, including regular daily meals and especially all extra treats are given within the crate. 

When kenneling the dog, use a specific command in a quiet, firm, authoritative voice; if you say “Aww, come on, you gotta get into your bed now…” the dog will become reluctant and refuse to go in his crate, as you sound as if you don’t really want him in there at all. If the dog won’t enter the crate willingly, physically put him into the crate without any delay or coaxing.

How to Depart Your Home

Try to wear the dog out physically and mentally before he is to be left alone; a 15-minute walk or out to go potty is not nearly enough. At least 20 minutes of real exercising or running, along with a 10-minute obedience drill works wonders on the dog’s attitude before you leave.

When you prepare to leave, complete at least three ritual behaviors before he enters the crate: the dog goes outside, comes in, does a short down stay, gets a treat for the correct behavior, and is then kenneled at least 15 minutes before you go.

When the dog is to be left alone in his kennel, several things can be done that may help thwart anxiety:

How to Return Home

Your Weimaraner should be left in the crate for five to ten minutes after you return home, and after you’ve had time to observe three ritual behaviors: take off your shoes, listen to messages, and pour a glass of wine, for example.

Ignore all unwanted behaviors he exhibits in his crate just as if he was invisible and you were deaf.

Then, if the dog is not barking, he is allowed out of his cage. If you are beginning training, a treat can be given to quiet him.

After he is out of the crate, he should then be ignored for two full minutes; if he refuses to be ignored and doesn’t remain composed, put the dog on a leash and stand on it where it hits the ground to limit his actions. Invest in a chain leash should the dog try to chew on it to get your attention.

Other Considerations for Separation Anxiety in Weimaraners

Weimaraners are very intelligent dogs and need outlets for their capabilities!

Enroll your Weim in some type of classes, or give him a hobby such as obedience, agility, hunting or therapy dog work. If Weims don’t have mental stimulation, they get overly fixated on their owners, often in such an unhealthy way as to create separation anxiety. Many of these dogs can benefit from doggie day care.

Also, many Weims have general personality traits common to dogs suffering from separation anxiety. Often it is an issue of owner management. When your dog knows what to expect from you and what your expectations of him are, he will have the greatest security, and at the same time unwanted behaviors are depleted.

Separation Anxiety Help

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About Chris Conklin

Chris was a long time dog trainer, and was especially adept at training the owners. She was also the founder of Michigan Weimaraner Rescue and bred under the kennel name Celestial Weimaraners.

14 responses to “Dealing with Separation Anxiety”

  1. yolande says:

    I do not have a weimaraner. I have a Yorkshire Terrier. Is that difference in breeds important in training procedures and in helping my dog overcome separation anxiety?

  2. Andrea says:

    So my boyfriend and I got a Weimaraner puppy in February , she has some separation anxiety and we have tried lots of things. We have seen a lot of improvement there is still some barking and crying when we leave for the day but she is getting better. The issue we have now is the Weimaraner we adopted from some co workers, he’s around 6 years old and gets into everything when we leave the house.

    We have tried using a crate and he breaks out unless we zip tie it closed. Even then he tries really hard to break out, he rubs his nose raw, and drools all over the crate. We have been feeding him in the crate and extending his time in the crate and he seems ok most of the time. I want to start leaving him in the crate while we are at work but I know he will be worked up a day. I feel like it’s safer for him in the crate even though he gets so worked up based on the things he destroys. Examples being : glass cups, anything cardboard, garbage ( we now have zero garbage in our house) anything on the kitchen counter that may at one point had food in it. He got a jar of peanut butter from the cabinet once, and was sick for a couple days. We shut every room in our house but it needs to stop, my boyfriend doesn’t want to keep him if we can’t break the habit. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Hi Andrea, if you have a break from work coming up due to the upcoming holidays, I would try to crate him while you are home. Continue to feed him in there, and give him very special treats in there as well. And then start going into a separate room while he’s crated and come back quickly before he gets anxious. If he’s OK extend the time, but with you in the house. Next time try going outside for a bit. Come back again. Then leave for a bit longer. It might be only a few minutes in the beginning. If this doesn’t work you might want to consider day care. Best of luck!

  3. Connor says:

    We have just got a Weimaraner cross springer spaniel pup a couple of months ago, however she shows more of the weimaraner trates. she gets really bad separation anxiety, its so bad that when we try to crate train her, she has got her jaw caught on the crate, she also does this even if we are still in the room. she hasn’t got into the habit of destroying things around the house, however we fear for her safety more than anything.

    Any suggestions welcome for crates, tips as she is proving to be quite a handful

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Is she able to be in the crate at all without any anxiety? Start with her crate for a duration of time that she can deal with, and then work your way up in time. If she’s anxious in her crate even when you are in the room, you may need to start with the door open. You can also save extra special treats for her that she only gets in her crate, or you can also try feeding her in her crate (door open in the beginning if she’s very anxious). The idea is to get her used to the crate slowly, and not push past her comfort level.

  4. Laura says:

    My family and I just got a new male Weimaraner puppy and he just seems to be casusing havoc jumping up and biting onto our clothes then ripping them, also we keep him in the kitchen and he settled easily but when we let him into the rest of the house he’s going and and jumping up again and biting. It’s getting exhausting so any help would definitely benefit us!! We’ve already had a dog previous to this one but he was a black lab and he was so gentle and good it’s just this pup is such a contrast compared to the previous.

  5. Adam says:

    I got a Male Weim when he was about 10-12 weeks old. I crated him for a while then when my Girlfriend moved in with me, she had a male German short haired pointer that she brought with her. They are actually great together for the most part. We used to keep them both outside all day and let them in when we were home but lately they figured out how to jump the fence. So we decided to keep them inside since my girlfriend works from home now but every time she leaves to run errands or to just get out of the house while i am at work, my Weim tends to be a little destructive/ separation anxiety Such as (Eat plants, pull vinyl records off the shelve and eat/destroy the covers ETC…. Its becoming too much for us to handle. My question is since they were both crate trained when they were little, do you think it would be best to start crating them again? and if so, should we crate them together or separate?
    I am planning on getting a new taller fence in about a month or so that may be the best thing to do is to keep them outside once i make it to where they can’t climb up it anymore since they are active dogs.
    We try to play with them outside and make them understand its not play time when they come in…. looking for suggestions here.

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Hi Adam,

      Yes definitely crate them when you are not at home so that you don’t have to deal with all the destruction! You should crate them separately. The risk of having two pups or young dogs of the same age is that they can get overly dependent on each other, so they should “practice” being apart at times.

      Since it sounds like it’s been a while since they’ve been crated, you may have to reintroduce it again slowly but luckily you have someone at home, so I would practice when she is at home in the beginning. You do NOT want them to start associating the crate ONLY when being left home.

      Hope this helps!
      Anne

  6. Jen says:

    I have a 12 week old female weim. She Has no issue going into her kennel. She will sleep all through the night in her kennel no issues. When I work she is in her kennel for about 4 hours or less at a time. I thankfully work near home and can come and let her out. She occasionally pees in her kennel doesn’t matter if gone for 15mins or a few hours. Just this last week she started pooping in her kennel when we leave. Barks and howls until we return. When I tell her kennel for bed or when we leave she excitedly hops right in and sits. I fear she has the start of some separation anxiety. Any tips for us??

    Thank you,
    Jen

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Hi Jen, you should kennel her when you are at home during the day, not just during the night. And practice going out of the house in shorter increments when you kennel her during the day. Also, if you aren’t watching her potty, make sure you watch so you know that she has gone. A lot of puppies get distracted when they are outside and never potty, so often the owners are just assuming that they went when they didn’t. Is she barking and howling when you return? If so, make sure she calms down and is quiet before you let her out.

  7. Audrie Donahay says:

    I have a 6 year old female weimaraner. My family and I got her when she was about 8 weeks old. However, she has not been the easiest dog in the world and I feel like nothing I do is helping. We tried crate training her as a puppy but she has broken out of every single kennel you can think of. So we moved to a basket muzzle because she cannot be left alone in the house without one or else she’ll destroy the house. She has been leash trained since a puppy because we have never had a back yard. I take her to the dog park almost everyday. However we cannot get her to stop peeing and pooping in the house. She is 6 years old and just won’t stop. She pulls when you walk her, barks at other dogs and people. We tried putting a diaper on her before leaving the house recently and it worked for 2 months but now she’s pooping and peeing in it. I don’t know what to do anymore. I have to work for 8-9 hours in the day like everyone else. I feel trapped and i’m tired of paying a lot of money to clean up poop and pee.

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Hi Audrie, I’m sorry you are going through this. Is it possible to take her to day care? It may be difficult to try to change her potty habits at her age without someone home with her. Also 8-9 hours is a long time to “hold it” all day. It’s usually possible for most adult dogs, but if day care isn’t possible, how about a dog walker mid-day?

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