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Why is my dog scared to go outside?

asked 2018-09-04 10:20:58 -0500

My boyfriend and I just adopted a 6 year old mixed breed - they think boxer/Great Dane? We are having a lot of difficulty getting him to go outside - it seems to be mainly at night. Yesterday during the day he was very responsive when called, followed us around and willingly went outside to use the bathroom. Last night, we tried to take him out and he got super shaky and scared. So we let it ride for a few hours and my boyfriend tried again - he went straight into the bathroom to hide and wouldn’t come out. Then, he finally came out and went to the door so my boyfriend took him out and he hid underneath our stairs for a good 10 minutes. His foster family did tell us he get anxious going outside and that they would just pick him up and put him out there for a walk and he’d be fine. But I don’t think this is right to do because it associates a negative interaction with the outdoors. He is on 100mg of trazodone daily, we gave him half a pill yesterday morning and he was fine all day - we gave him another half last night after 12 hours but it didn’t seem to do much other then make him tired. It’s been a good 15 hours since he’s peed and pooped and I can’t get him off the bathroom floor. He is not food driven, we’ve tried treats and all that - he’ll eat cheese but I can’t entice him with it. He is also not responsive to toys and doesn’t get excited when you say all the things dogs love like car rides, walks, etc. Does anyone have any suggestions? I realize we are new to him and it’s a new environment but I’m concerned about this behavior. Thanks in advance.

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If you haven't already, I would have him check out by your local Veterinarian. Sometimes older dogs can have a hard time seeing at night which in turn can make them scared to outside.

Erica M.'s profile imageErica M. ( 2018-09-05 05:29:16 -0500 )edit

3 Answers

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answered 2018-09-08 19:51:52 -0500

He may have a negative memory of something that happened in the dark or at night or something. One of our dogs refuses to go outside if she's recently heard a firework or crack of thunder, and she'll be wary for quite awhile after hearing it.
If it were me, I would start feeding my pup outside for dinner (in daylight). Then I'd progressively start getting closer and closer to sunset time. This would help build a positive association with being outside when it's not "bright as day", and you can try to inch your way towards feeding your pup when it's dark.
Another option is doing sunset walks - start when it's just bright enough that your pup isn't scared, and go for a nice, long walk so you get back when it's dark out. If he handles that well, try seeing if he'll go right back outside when you get back from the walk, still on leash, as if you dropped something outside and need to go pick it up (not "you wanna go back outside sweetie? Wanna go outside?!!!"). Just turn right back around and walk out the door. If he follows you, great! Keep doing regular walks so he gets used to crossing the barrier in the dark.
Good luck!

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answered 2019-04-04 10:52:21 -0500

Don't make some common mistakes in trying to get your dog comfortable going outside again: ... It could cause your dog to panic, in which case they aren't learning anything to get over the fear. Don't punish them: Never scold your dog if they seem scared to go outside.

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answered 2018-09-15 01:58:10 -0500

Anxiety-driven behaviors are a beast of a thing, and you've already got several things against you...a dog in new surroundings, in its adult years, with obvious fixed anxieties of unknown origin. It's going to take time, patience, and hopefully, maybe you can overcome these anxieties. My suggestions: 1. don't mess with the medication-it will help take the edge off as you patiently work with the dog. 2. Change the way you want to get her to go outside-she's associating certain behaviors from you as cues to go outside, you need to change those, because she's associating those cues with something bad (past trauma for ex). Check out this link, which has helped me learn a lot about the visual cues our dogs give and how we should respond: http://en.turid-rugaas.no/calming-signals---the-art-of-survival.html (http://en.turid-rugaas.no/calming-sig...)

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