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My Dog Won’t Go Outside Alone!

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Dear Paris, I have two questions actually. I got a 2-1/2-year-old rescue nine weeks ago. She’s been a great dog and is completely house trained. However around the 4th of July, she wouldn’t go outside without me. That seemed understandable so I went out with her. Now she won’t leave the deck unless I come too. Even after being crated all day. She sits and waits for me, sometimes for 10 or 15 minutes. Occasionally first thing in the morning she will go out without me.

I’ve tried everything, leaving her out there of 20 minutes and then letting her in. I don’t know if she’s afraid I will leave her or what. For the first two weeks I had her, this wasn’t a problem.

The other issue is she has a habit of whimpering and whining for no reason. I don’t know if I’ve given her too much attention and now she thinks she can demand it whenever she wants. If I tell her to lay down or bed. She lays down and pouts and I feel guilty.

I want to do right for her. She was a owner surrender and I fostered for a while, adopted out for three months and then returned to foster because she jumped their fence. – Trish

Hi Trish,

Thanks for your email. I wonder if perhaps she might have heard a loud noise that startled her around the 4th of July and since then she’s been afraid to go outside, especially by herself.

First, I’d recommend going outdoors with her and noticing her behavior. Does she stay right beside you or will she explore the yard as long as you’re nearby?

When she’s not with you, I’d take some extra high-value treats (perhaps bits of hot dog or chicken or extra good treats that she doesn’t get on a usual basis. Hide a few around the yard, almost to create an Easter egg hunt for her. You want her to learn that great things happen when she goes out in the yard! Hide the goodies then take her out in the yard, staying with her while she discovers the goodies. (You might have to do this a time or two, accompanying her while she hunts for the treats.)

After you see she’s more comfortable looking for treats with you nearby, next try letting her out on her own to discover the goodies. Perhaps start the hunt with you outside, then go back indoors for a few minutes, then return outside. Vary the pattern–sometimes come right back, sometimes stay inside for a while. That will help her realize that sometimes you’ll be inside without her for a while, but that it doesn’t always mean that you’ll be gone for long.

As for the whining, do you notice that she’s whining more on days when she doesn’t get long walks? I wonder if she might be bored. I know sometimes it’s just not possible to walk dogs as much as you (and they) would like–so something like an interactive toy can be a great tool to occupy her. Put her meal in an interactive toy like a Kong, the PetMate Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble, or JW Pet Interactive Toys. Put your dog’s meal in those toys to keep her busy and challenge her to get the kibble out of the toy (tiring her out like exercise in the process).

One more note: I’d just totally ignore behaviors that you don’t like (such as whining). Even requesting a different behavior from her gives her the attention she wants from the whining. Negative attention is still attention. I’d try to completely ignore the whining then, when she settles down, turn to her and provide attention. Just ignore the behaviors you don’t like and reward the ones you like!

Please keep me posted and let me know how she’s doing! Paris

Do you have a question for us? Drop us an email at editors@dogtipper.com – just please be sure to use “Ask Paris” in the subject line. We’ll do our best to answer questions in this space!

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About parisandjohn

Paris Permenter is an award-winning author of over 30 pet and travel books. Along with her husband, John Bigley, Paris is the founder and publisher of CatTipper and DogTipper.