Is Your Dog Scared of Going Outside? Here’s How to Help Her
Does your dog get anxious or scared when you take her outside? Does she run back home or freeze in terror when you want to let her outdoors? You’re not alone – dogs can feel anxious or scared for lots of reasons, and sometimes it takes some help to understand why and to come up with solutions to help them get more comfortable outdoors.
Understand the Causes of Anxiety and Fear
Before you can help your dog become more comfortable going outside you need to understand the possible causes of her anxiety and fear. It could be that:
- She had a negative experience while she was outside that reinforced her fear. It could be that something startled her – such as a loud noise or approaching people or animals, or that she got injured.
- The environment outside is overwhelming for her. It could be that she’s overwhelmed by the smells or loud noises, or that she’s not used to going out.
- She’s in an unfamiliar territory. It could be that she’s used to confined outdoor areas and she’s scared to explore new locations.
Train your Dog to Enjoy the Outdoors
Once you’ve determined the cause of your dog’s fear of going outside, you can start to work on building his confidence in the outdoors. The following tips will help to get your pup accustomed to the outdoors:
- Start slow. Take your dog outside in short bursts and focus on rewarding behaviours like staying close to you and exploring while on the lead.
- Be calm. It’s natural to be excited when you go outdoors, but if you’re too excited or loud it may scare your dog even more.
- Reward progress. Praise and reward your dog every time she does something brave outdoors and give her treats for staying calm.
- Don’t push the issue. If your dog seems scared or anxious, don’t force her to do something that’s making her uncomfortable.
- Avoid stressful environments. Avoid areas that may be overwhelming for your pup, such as busy parks or streets.
Create Positive Experiences Outside
Creating positive experiences outside can help your dog to start feeling more comfortable and adventurous when it’s time to go outdoors. Here are some ideas of activities to try:
- Take a leisurely stroll. Taking your dog on a slow and enjoyable walk can help her to become comfortable with the new environment and it gives her time to take in all the smells, sounds and sights.
- Tire your dog out. Taking your dog for a long and active walk can be relaxing for your pup and it can help to release some of the built-up energy and stress.
- Explore new paths. Exploring different neighbourhoods and parks can help your pup to become more familiar with the outdoors and it will help to keep things interesting.
- Play fetch. Fetch is a great way to help your pup build her confidence outdoors and it’s also a lot of fun for the both of you.
- Teach obedience commands. Teaching your pup basic obedience commands like sit, stay and come can help her to feel less apprehensive when you’re outside.
Signs of Anxiety and Fear
The signs of anxiety and fear in dogs can be fairly subtle, so it’s important to pay close attention your pup when you go outside. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Excessive panting. Panting is an accurate early warning sign of stress.
- Trembling. Trembling is another sign of fear and anxiety.
- Clingy behaviour. Your pup may be more clingy than usual and seem to be ‘attached’ to you.
- Barking or howling. This can be a sign of fear or uncertainty.
- Pacing or circling. Pacing or circling is a sign of an anxious or fearful dog.
- Drooling. If your dog drools excessively, it could be a sign of fear.
- Lip licking. Lip licking is also a sign of fear.
Be Patient with your Dog
It takes time to train a dog that was scared of the outdoors, but with patience and consistency, you can help your dog to become more confident and comfortable outdoors. Be patient and understanding – a soothing voice and a few treats can go a long way towards making your pup feel safe and secure when you go outside.
Fear of the outdoors is a common issue for many dogs and it can take some patience and training to help them be more comfortable with the idea of going outside. Understanding the causes of their fear and trying to create positive experiences can help your pup become more confident and adventurous in the outdoors. With some time and effort, you can help your pup to overcome her fear of going outside and enjoy the great outdoors with you.