Separation anxiety in Weimaraners

General info, Health

Guide To Separation Anxiety In Weimaraners

When choosing a dog to buy or adopt it’s a good idea to get to know the breed and their characteristics. Weimaraners are known for being prone to separation anxiety.

Weimaraners are highly sensitive and are susceptible to being lonely when their owner is away, so it may be something to think about if you are likely to spend lots of time away from home for work or travel.

In this article, I’m going to outline how separation anxiety in Weimaraners manifests itself and how to deal with it!

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety refers to the fact that dogs will get anxious or exhibit restless behaviors when their owner is away from home for a long time. Weimaraners have a close bond with their owners and may feel abandoned when their owner is away, even just for a short time in the day.

Dogs that feel abandoned and anxious may resort to destructive behavior. Some Weimaraners may be more likely to have stronger separation anxiety than others and it all depends on their genetics, boredom, and stress.

What causes separation anxiety?

Some causes of separation anxiety include the following:

  • Change of routine
  • Change of location – moving to a new place
  • Change of owner – dogs being abandoned by their owner, adoption, etc.
  • Loss of a guardian

There’s no official study which explains why certain dogs develop separation anxiety and other don’t, even if they have similar background.

What Are The Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety In Weimaraners?

Weimaraner’s separation anxiety symptoms can range from mild to severe. With the most serious cases the dog can injure themselves when trying to escape wherever they’re confined in.

Peeing & pooping

If your Weim is potty trained but they pee and poop all over the house when you leave, it might be a sign of separation anxiety. Some pups also eat their poop when they’re anxious.

If they do their business inside the house when you are present, it’s not separation anxiety. Either your potty training needs some work or there are some underlying medical issues that need to be looked at by your vet.

Signs of distress

Some of the physical symptoms of separation anxiety include heavy breathing, rapid heart rate, hyperactivity, panting, and excessive drooling. Your Weim can also pace a lot, almost in an obsessive manner.

Barking, howling & whining

This is probably one of the most worrisome symptom. If you live in an apartment building (yes, Weim can live in apartments!), frequent barking and whining could get you in trouble with your neighbors and/or landlord to the point where you’d need to move out.

Even if you live in a house, your neighbors won’t appreciate your dog barking and howling for 8 or more hours straight.

Destruction, digging & chewing

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, separation anxiety can leave its mark on your house, your furniture and your garden.

Destruction is fairly common and can include but is not limited to doors, windows, furniture, pillows, clothes, blinds, walls, wallpapers, rugs, dog crates, potted plants, etc.

If your Weim has access to the garden when you’re out, they can dig or even try to escape in their panic. If your property isn’t adequately secured, your dog can jump the fence and roam around.

If your dog is crated, they might destroy her crate even if it causes them injuries.


It’s clear that these symptoms don’t have a positive impact on the dog’s health and can cause issues later down the line. You will be able to tell if your dog has separation anxiety if they act highly excited when you arrive home (to an extreme extent!) and if they act depressed or anxious when you start to do behaviors that indicate that you are leaving the house (such as putting on shoes and coats).

Is it separation anxiety, boredom or something else?

When it comes to separation anxiety and boredom in Weimaraners the end result may look very similar. Bored dogs can destroy and chew things as well. The only way to know for sure if your Weim is simply bored is to have a camera (either one you can control from afar or a simple camera where you just record) and record their behavior.

If your Weim seems agitated and keeps barking, pacing and showing signs of other anxiety behaviors in the first 30 minutes, your dog might suffer from separation anxiety.

If they bark for a few minutes, then go lay down and later they get up and start destroying things, they might be simply bored.

How Can I Prevent Separation Anxiety In My Weimaraner?

It’s not enough to treat the symptoms of anxiety as it won’t solve the underlying problem. You will need to train the dog as a puppy to deal with living in a home where they may be away from their owner for several hours at a time.

Adult Weimaraners may also start to exhibit separation anxiety symptoms if you have a drastic change in routine, so falling back on training as a puppy is essential. Separation anxiety can manifest itself in puppies if you start to leave them alone for long periods of time straight away.

Nellyt on a night vision camera

Dogs need to get used to their environment and rely on their owner to keep them safe. If dogs are allowed to get used to their environment alone, over time they will become more comfortable and less likely to exhibit separation anxiety.

First and foremost, you should not reward certain types of behavior when the dog is a puppy. If you reward a dog when it cries or pick up the dog when you let it out of its crate then you are sending the message that they will be rewarded if they cry out for attention.

Here are some techniques that can prevent from separation anxiety from occuring. Please note that these might not work for every Weimaraner.

Start crating early if it’s a puppy

Make sure your puppy knows that her crate is her safe space. Cover the crate completely with a blanket, it will give your Weim extra sense of security. Start feeding the puppy in her crate.

You will need to start gradually and reward behavior when the dog gets in the crate and then have them spend more time within the crate. It’s a good idea to put your dog’s favorite toys inside the crate as it will reward them and reduce stress.

Please note that not all Weims will be happy in a crate. Observe your puppy and decide what’s best for them based on their behavior.

Physical and mental exercise

Weimaraners are high-energy breed and need a lot of exercise. While physical exercise is great, employing your Weim’s brain will tire them out quicker. Weim owners often say that a tired Weim is a good Weim. They’re less likely to develop separation anxiety if they’re tired.

Most Weimaraners love water, so it’s easy to get them tired that way. I have an article about how to teach your Weim to swim here.

Get a second dog

Getting your dog another doggy companion is a great way to prevent separation anxiety. However, this is not always possible and it might not work for some Weims.

How Do I Address Already Present Separation Anxiety?

Maybe you’ve adopted an older dog and she’s exhibiting some signs of separation anxiety. While separation anxiety in Weimaraners is easier to prevent, there are still techniques that you can try to fix already present anxiety.

The effectiveness of these methods might depend on how severe the separation anxiety in your Weimaraner is. Bear in mind fixing this won’t happen overnight, it’s a long process for most Weimaraners. Yes, you will get frustrated, yes you will fail and give attention when you shouldn’t but remember that we’re all human and we’re doing the best we can with our pups.

Please remember that scolding your dog or punishing them won’t help matters. Separation anxiety in Weimaraners is something that’s not done in spite or due to lack of obedience. It’s a stress response and if you punish your dog for it, their separation anxiety may get even worse.

Crate training

While it’s best to teach dog behaviors when they are puppies, it’s still possible to crate train as an adult. It may be harder so a gradual rewards-based approach is needed. As I mentioned above, not all Weims will be happy in a crate regardless of what you do, so it’s better to let them free roam. Every dog is an individual.

Human behavior

We don’t think about it much when we get ready to leave the house but our dogs notice these cues and they’ve been conditioned that doing all those things mean you’re going to leave, thus triggering their anxiety.. Putting on shoes, grabbing your purse and keys are all triggers that need to be counter-conditioned.

How to counter-condition to human pre-leaving rituals:

  • Grab your keys, put them in your pocket and go watch television.
  • Put your shoes on but go relax on the sofa.
  • Associate the cues with something good from you – high value treats work great!
  • Give them a puzzle toy (like a stuffed Kong) that will take them 20-30 minutes to go through. Alternatively you can get them a licking mat.
  • Don’t make a scene when saying goodbye – best is to leave when they’re not looking without a word.
  • I know it’s hard, but try not to give attention to your dog a few minutes after you arrive.
  • If you have a house with multiple exits, you can try leaving through the backdoor. Your dog doesn’t associate that door with you leaving, so they will think you’re just in another part of the house.

With more severe cases, it can be much more difficult, though it’s not impossible. If your pup is highly anxious, they won’t be interested in food at all. Your Weim has to be desensitized to your leaving.

You definitely need to work on counter-conditioning to human cues as well as making them comfortable being alone. Baby steps is the way to go, start with 10 second intervals (5 seconds of the separation anxiety is severe). Leave without acknowledging them, count to 10, then come back but don’t pay attention to them.

You’ll be sick and tired of going and leaving but you’re doing something good for your dog (and your house as well if destruction is a problem!).

But what if these tips aren’t working? Well, there are other things you can try.

Simulate human activity

Leave the radio or TV on. If that doesn’t work, try recording a conversation in your family, or even just your own voice as if you were on the phone. Leave it playing on a loop in a closed room. Pair it up with your scent by putting worn shirt into their crate or their bed.

Some people were so desperate they made a stuffed dummy dressed in their clothes to make sure their doggo wouldn’t suffer from separation anxiety! You can see the article at The Dodo here. Their dog is a Weim too! 🙂

Consult a professional

There are a number of reputable behaviorists that can help you make a plan for desensetizing and counter-conditioning your pup. For this you should contact a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) and/or Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (ACAAB) in your area.

Doggy daycare & dog walkers

Night vision camera with microphone option

Try to see if there is an available doggy daycare in your area or someone who is able to check up on your dog and/or take them for a walk. Alternatively you can ask if a friend or relative can take your dog for the duration you’re going to be away.

Medication

Most people don’t want to try medication for their Weim’s separation anxiety but it can surely help. If nothing else is working, ask your vet about your options, including CBD oil.

Finding the right medication can be tricky because not all CBD oils are the same. It’s similar with regular medication – what works for one Weim might not work for yours. Some medications might alter your dog’s personality and drive, so make sure to ask your vet.

Take your dog with you

I know it’s not always possible to bring your Weim to work or on your errands. However, if you can do it, it’s a great option. Not only will you eliminate separation anxiety, you will also spend more time with your dog. If you want to learn how to spend more time with your dog, I wrote an article here.

Conclusion

Before you purchase a dog you should always research to see if the breed fits well within your lifestyle. At the end of the day once you own the dog it’s your responsibility to give it a stress-free, comfortable life.

Hopefully, these tips have given you an insight into separation anxiety in Weimaraners and how you can prevent and treat it. By following through with training as a puppy you can ensure that your dog is trained in non-destructive behaviors and can be comfortable with time spent alone for hours during the day.



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