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If you have been doing any research at all regarding crate training your Weimaraner puppy, you can't help but have noticed they have a reputation for separation anxiety. When you look at the fact Weimaraners were bred to be companion and hunting dogs and more specifically, to working closely with their human partners during the hunt.
It is important you understand that dogs are pack animals by nature. It is highly unusual for a dog in the wild to experience much in the way of isolation. In fact, being isolated in the wild leaves a dog open to attack, injury, and death. While this might not happen in your home (at least we hope not!), training your pup to spend time in his crate can be thought of in terms of simply just a part of joining your pack.
You took your annual two weeks' vacation and brought home your Weimaraner puppy. Then you spent the next two weeks getting to know him, fussing over him 24/7. But all good things must come to an end. Time to go back to work. Suddenly, your pup is stuck in an empty void for eight or more hours a day! And then you wonder why he suffers from separation anxiety and is destroying your home one piece of furniture at a time.
Your job is to train your pup to spend the time you are at work in a crate where he is safely out of harm's way. Once your pup has learned to stay in his crate, your house will breathe a sigh of relief. The essence of training your pup to spend time in his crate is to help him understand that it is his "den" or "safe place" and one that is all his own. Once he figures this out, you are just as likely to find him napping or simply hanging out there.
It all starts with buying the right size crate for your pup. Since Weimaraners grow to be relatively large dogs, you should start with a smaller crate and work your way up to the one your pup will use when he has reached full adult size. A crate needs to provide room to stand up, turn around, and stretch out. Having a little room to move around is also good, but not too big, your pup may see it as big enough he can pee in one corner.
Be sure to make his crate as comfy as possible; carpet the floor, put a nice big bed in it, a few new toys, even a blanket. The more enticing you make it, the more likely your pup is to adapt to it in a shorter period of time. As always, have plenty of treats on hand, along with an ample supply of patience and time.
The Crate First Method
The crate before the dog
For those of you who have never found the answer to which came first, the chicken or the egg, we have no answer for you. But, when it comes to a crate and your pup, the crate should come first. Set it up as described above and put in it a room that is central to your family. A good choice would be the kitchen, so you are close the back door and his potty.
In the bedroom
You may also want to consider adding a second crate in your bedroom, at least during the potty training phase.
Bringing your puppy home
Starting with the day you bring your pup home, let him wander around and explore his new crate. Put a new toy and a nice treat in the crate and let your pup wander in and out of it on his own. You may need to coax him in for the first few times, just be patient.
Repeat for several days
Repeat the above step several times a day over the course of several days. Be sure to give your pup lots of praise each time he goes in on his own without fussing.
The new toy
Now add a new toy to the crate, using it to lure your pup inside. When he goes in, close the door. If he fusses and whines for more than five minutes, use a firm voice and tell him "no" or "quiet" and let him calm down. Once he has calmed down for at least 30 seconds, go ahead and open the door, praise him, and let him out. Keep extending the time between going in and coming back out until he is old enough to spend the day in his crate when needed.
The Other Room Method
Your best tool
Your pup's crate is going to be your best training tool when it comes to dealing with separation anxiety. Start out by placing your pup in his prepared crate with the door closed and go into a separate room for a few minutes .
Repeat this step, extending the time until you can go away for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and your pup doesn’t fuss. Remember, when he whines, ignore him until he quiets down, then let him out.
This time, go outside for a few minutes with your pup in his kennel. Be sure he has a few toys to keep him occupied. He should also have a hanging water bottle.
I need an extension
Keep extending the time you spend outside. Again, if he fusses, let him carry on until he stops whining.
Keep working it
Keep working with your pup until he can stay in his crate for long periods of time. Bear in mind, puppies need to be taken out to go potty more frequently at first. You have just crate trained your Weimaraner.
The Zero Force Method
Get set up
Get started by setting your pup's crate up as described above and placing it in an area of your home where your family spends a lot of time. Toss a few treats and toys inside and close the door.
Hello, what's this?
Bring your pup into the room his crate is located in and let him wander around the crate. It won't take him long to catch a whiff of the treat. Once he starts scratching and fussing to get in, go ahead and open the door and leave it open. When your pup goes in, praise him and let him enjoy the treat. When he comes back out, praise him, but no treat. The idea is to make him realize he only gets the treat for going in the crate.
And further in
After a few days of this, start tossing the treats all the way to the back of the crate. As he enters, give him your command word. Use something simple like "kennel" or "crate" and praise him.
And when we get behind closed doors...
Time to start working with the door closed. If he fusses and whines, ignore him until he quiets down.
The long and winding road
The rest is all about working with your pup to extend the amount of time he spends in the crate. When he can spend the day in it while you are at work, you are all done.
By PB Getz
Published: 02/08/2018, edited: 01/08/2021