Our dogs are incredibly sensitive, nuanced creatures, but as we share no common language they have very few reliable ways to tell us when something is wrong or when they’re uncertain. Sometimes this means displaying reluctant or even fearful behavior when confronted with a seemingly innocuous task, like going outside to walk or relieve themselves.
My Dog won’t Go Outside Without Me?
Our world is a loud, overwhelming place to our dogs sometimes. It’s important to be attentive dog owners, and keep watch for new experiences or situations that might cause our dogs to feel frightened or unsure. While the outdoors might be one of those places with strange smells and scary encounters, you can desensitize your animal to those stimuli and ensure it feels safe and happy.
Why Does My Dog Want Me To Go Outside With It?
Like most canine species, dogs have a very strong pack instinct. This instinct fuels most of their decision-making processes, such as where to sleep and when to eat, and is an intrinsic part of their behavior. Having a pack, whether it is made up of fellow dogs, or cats or humans or even the family parakeet, gives your pup a sense of security. Naturally, your dog feels most comfortable when they have you nearby because they have established you as their pack member.
Why Does My Dog Refuse To Go Outside Alone?
There can be a number of reasons why your dog has decided that being outside alone is a negative experience. Medical reasons, odd sounds and sights, or traumatic past experiences might have taught your dog that the outside world is unsafe.
Perhaps your previously sleepy neighborhood has recently started construction nearby, and your dog’s powerful nose and ears can sense a variety of strange new noises and smells. Perhaps you’ve moved from a house with a tiny garden into a big acreage with far more open space than they’ve ever had before.
Perhaps your dog got stung by a bee in your flowerbed and is now fearful of a repeat experience. There are a myriad of explanations for why your dog may be refusing to go outside by themselves, and the important thing is to accept that to them, these are rational fears. Your next step is to help guide them through their reluctance so they can enjoy the outdoors without needing you.
How Do I Get My Dog To Go Outside By Himself?
There are a couple different ways to guide your pup into going outdoors on their own. The biggest and most effective way to deal with your dog’s fears or anxieties is through desensitization. By allowing your dog to gradually come to terms with anything that might be concerning to it (bees, loud noises, bigger spaces) they can learn to be as comfortable with their outdoor environment as they are with the indoors.
Make sure you know your dog’s stress signals, otherwise you may do more harm than good by overwhelming rather than desensitizing. Arm yourself with their favorite high-value treats and toys, and take time each day towards the desensitization process. Instead of long hours outside by themselves, start with five minutes out of your sight, and build up incrementally from there.
If it is safe to do so, introduce your dog to the reasons behind the strange noises or smells; say hello to the construction workers or to the next-door dog. All the while, continue to reinforce to your dog that they are safe and eventually you will establish the outdoors as a fun, exciting place to be.
How To Train My Dog To Go Outside With Others?
Alongside the steps listed above, you may find yourself unable to be the one taking your dog outside, due to work or other time commitments. In order to train your dog to go outside with someone other than yourself, you will need to establish the same pack security with the other individuals as your dog has with you.
Your dog needs to trust that others will keep them safe as much as they trust in you. Gradually expose them to the smells, sounds and physical behaviours of those individuals, and have those individuals practice the same gentling desensitization with your dog as you have done.
Why Does My Dog Hate Being Outside Alone?
If your dog’s pack instincts are heightened, whether over time or in specific instances, they will find being outside and away from their pack members a very stressful occurrence. This is because they have associated the outdoor space with unhappy memories and if you are not present to counteract this fear or unease, their instinct is to assume they are unsafe.
How To Train My Dog To Stay Outside Alone?
In order for your dog to stay outside by themselves, they need to feel as comfortable there as they do indoors, as well as feel secure without their pack member (you) by their side. This may be more difficult if your dog has a tendency for separation anxiety in general, but if they’re comfortable away from you when they’re indoors, then this will just be a matter of adding the outdoor space to the list of places they feel secure.
Start by allowing your dog to take an ownership of the outdoor space you want them to inhabit alone; let them sniff bushes and trees and mark their territory, and suss out any unfamiliar sights and smells to eliminate any surprises they might have later when you’re not there. Be ready with treats and toys to further associate the space with positive experiences. Additionally, you might create a restive spot for your dog such as a doghouse or dog bed, so they can spend some of their outdoor time in a state of rest as well as energy. This will make it easier for them to feel they can spend longer periods of time outdoors without you.
How To Get A Scared Dog To Go Outside?
If the reason your dog is refusing to go outside is obviously fear-based, then your job is to identify the source of their fear and condition your dog to overcome it. Never push or scold the dog, as this may teach them to see you as a source of anxiety as well. Above all else, do not flood your dog; to “flood” is to overwhelm them with the fearful situation in the hopes this may cause them to let go of their fear.
Instead, always give your dog exit strategies and ensure they know a lovely reward is theirs if they choose to be brave. Stand with them in the open doorway to the backyard, and keep your energy positive and encouraging. Give them a treat for every step they take independently away from the safety of the house, or for every time they hear a car horn without bolting away. If you ensure you are calm, focused, and positive, you will start to see your efforts bear fruit.
Should I Force My Dog To Go Outside?
Never use force with your pet, even when you feel frustrated or confused by their behaviour. This will only reinforce that going outside is a painful, stressful experience and instead of seeing improvement, you will only train your dog to display worse behaviour.
My Dog Won’t Go Potty Without Me?
Dogs are pack animals, and like most pack animals their sense of security depends on knowing they have an ally watching their back. This includes vulnerable moments like sleeping and relieving themselves. Have you ever experienced your dog pressing up against you while they doze? This is part of that instinct. When your dog is relieving themselves, it’s part of their natural instinct to keep you in their sight.
My Dog Won’t Do Anything Without Me?
This is a sign that your dog has developed a more severe case of separation anxiety, where their pack instincts have been set into overdrive. They now feel that if you are out of their sight for any reason, their safety and wellbeing is at risk. Whether or not your own behaviour has reinforced this (for example, never leaving your dog on their own for longer than twenty minutes or exposing them to loud animals and people) it is now up to you to gently train them out of their dependency.
Carter, Lou. “10 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Afraid To Go Outside Suddenly”. Pet Carrier Verdict, Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, 21 Sept 2021, https://www.petcarrierverdict.com/dog-afraid-to-go-outside/
Farricelli, Adrienne. “Why Is My Dog Scared Of Going Outside”. PetHelpful, Maven Media Brands LLC, 4 May 2021, https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Dog-Behavior-Why-is-My-Dog-Scared-of-Going-Outside
“Reasons Why My Dog Won’t Go Outside Without Me (And How to Help!).” Born For Pets, Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, 2021, https://bornforpets.com/2020/07/16/my-dog-wont-go-outside-without-me/
Schade, Victoria. “Why is My Dog Afraid to Go Outside?”. Pet MD, 10 April 2018, https://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/why-my-dog-afraid-go-outside