Thursday, August 25, 2011

Separation Anxiety in Weimaraners & Basil's New Collar

Basil begged us to post pics as he proudly wears his new collar.

If you follow along with us on Facebook, you may already know that just over a week ago, we returned home to find Basil had wriggled out of his old collar and actually ate a good portion of it. Lucky for us, it appears he only ingested the fabric and webbing, chewed on the plastic parts and didn't mess with the tags. Even luckier for us he was OK - we knew better than to leave Basil much less any dog alone with a collar, definitely a careless mistake on our part.

What remained of Basil's first collar.

We loved his old collar so much - we had gotten it back in March from Etsy seller JuliaCuster. It was made from a recycled cotton feed sack which we thought was so up our alley. Julia even featured Basil in her item listings after he sent her a photo of himself sporting it. After contacting Julia the night Basil ate the collar for a new one, she let me know unfortunately they had been a limited edition.

So, the search for a new style was on! It didn't take much thinking to know we wanted to try out one of the famous dog collars from Hande of Silly Buddy & Etsy celebrity. We decided the olive green tartan collar would be the perfect new accessory for Basil.

Opening a package from Silly Buddy was an experience in itself in that every detail was beautifully and thoughtfully accounted for. We couldn't be more thrilled with our new Silly Buddy collar and Basil also approves. He went about a week without wearing one at all - and we think he actually missed it.

Basil was so excited when we tried the new collar on him - wagging his tail and then literally sprinting all over the house excitedly once it was on. He looks quite dapper if I don't say so myself.

Not long after ordering Basil's new collar, the ingested remains of the old one "passed," so to speak. TMI?

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The whole reason behind Basil eating his collar stems from separation anxiety. We studied up on Weimaraners long before actually looking at dogs and knew it was one of the tendencies of his breed, but I think Tim and I both underestimated the degree to which it was. We thought with consistent training we'd be able to help him be confident enough to leave him for up to a couple hours at a time alone.

Our goal in bringing a dog into our family was to spend the majority of our time together with him - while we are home, bringing him to the market, day & weekend trips, the river, and most everywhere where it's appropriate for dogs to come along. Since the beginning of our relationship, Tim has always wanted a dog but thought it would be unfair to get one with him being away at work all day - so when I moved in we thought my working from home situation would make for the perfect solution.


I'm not sure if it helps or hurts that I work from home and am around the house all day with Basil. I take him on a mile walk each morning for exercise and when we know we will both be away for extended periods of time, we take him to a doggie daycare where he can play with other dogs and be around people all day. We've even been known to ask my dad to babysit him while we go out to dinner.

We do all of this because we've tried leaving him in his crate and when we are gone he panics to the point of escaping the crate, working himself up into an anxious frenzy, and injuring himself (or eating a collar). While we bring Basil along with us most everywhere we can, there are those times we need to be away from the house for between 1-3 hours at a time where we'd like to be able to leave him there alone without worrying that he is in a state of anxiety.

We've tried and considered many options for helping overcome the separation anxiety including training, thunder shirt, medication, and getting another dog. Right now, we are still focusing on trying to train but are thinking Basil might be the type of dog that needs a companion at all times. The funny part is, he really is such an amazing dog - he simply loves being around people. The only time there's ever any issue is when he isn't around people or other animals. We've been through beginner training courses which he loved and excelled at and now we are working with an advanced trainer in our home who specializes in separation anxiety.

We'll keep you posted as we hopefully find our magic answer - we realize every dog and every home is different. Have you experienced a dog with a pretty strong case of separation anxiety? We'd love to know what worked for you.

P.S. If anyone thinks his new collar looks a little tight in these pics - we did too! We've since loosened it up and he's still loving it the same.

7 comments:

  1. Basil! You look so good in your new gear! Thank you very much for your kind words and I am happy to hear that you guys love it :)

    Sometimes I think the same thing about me being home with Buddy all day. Because he is so used to it, feels like it hurts him more when Emre and I leave the house together. But just like you guys we make sure to take a long walk in the morning and another later in the day if I can wrap things up on time. Our trainer always says "A tired dog is a happy dog"

    Hoping to hear more good news in the future regarding Basil's anxiety. And we're also sending him hugs and wet nose kisses :)

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  3. Please excuse my spelling errors above! Here's what I meant:

    Hande, thanks so much for your kind comments and even more for our favorite new collar! We will continue to exercise Basil - maybe I need to do an afternoon walk as well.

    On a side note - Tim and I have been debating all night on that last photo I posted of him. Tim thinks it looks like Basil has something in his teeth or hanging from his mouth and I swear it's just air and the back of his ear showing through his open mouth. He had been slightly panting during this photo.

    It's been bothering us all day - what do you think? haha

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  4. Hah! You guys are funny!

    I see what you mean but I can definitely tell that, that is his ear. The little grayish white spot there looks funny because his tongue is curled up and his ear is showing from behind. No worries - Basil is lookin' good, especially his shiny coat, I can tell he has an excellent diet. And I am a complete sucker for big floppy ears - I fall in love with Buddy's over and over again everyday :)

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  5. Hi Mary!
    I found your blog today and have enjoyed reading through your posts. This one *especially* caught my eye. We have a Weimaraner too, and we too have dealt with the separation anxiety.
    Our Riley (now age 10) once tried to chew through a door during a thunderstorm. We were gone, and she must have thought we were waiting just on the other side of that door.
    It's a good thing she is so very sweet and loving! Here's a picture of her on my blog: http://bellalulublog.blogspot.com/2010/03/funny-thing-happened.html
    Your Basil is so beautiful, and I do love his new collar!

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  6. Jill! Welcome!

    Your weim is gorgeous - is she a blue?? I would absolutely love to know how things have settled (or not?) over the years with Riley. What solutions have you found?

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  7. Hi Mary- yes, our Weim is a blue. It is such a pretty color; silvers are so beautiful too! Let's see...we first tried doggy Prozac, and it probably did help a little. That was when I was working full time away from home. After having kids and me being home most of the time, we took her off of the Prozac. As she has gotten older, she has grown more fearful of thunderstorms (which are plentiful here in OK). Our vet gave us acepromazine (a tranquilizer) to be used when we are going to be away from her during a thunderstorm. We don't like to have to give her that, but sometimes we have to and it does relax her considerably. She isn't bothered by storms if we are home though. It is quite a task to figure out all of the quirks of a Weim, but of course after almost 11 years, we still think it is worth it! :)

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Thank you for taking the time to read and comment here in our corner of the world.

P.S. Any comments from the animal kingdom will be forwarded to Basil in a timely manner.