If your dog is afraid to go outside, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do to get it to stop. 

So, why is my dog afraid to go outside? Possible reasons why your dog is afraid to go outside are that it thinks it won’t be allowed back in, it has separation anxiety, it’s too wet, cold or hot outside, it hears other animals or it hears noises outside. 

Since there are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it. 

Reasons why your dog is afraid to go outside

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason. 

It thinks it won’t be allowed back in

The cause could be that it thinks it will not be allowed to come back inside. This would be more likely if you tend to shut the door, when it goes outside, and do not open the door for a number of hours. In this case, it could help to temporarily leave the door open so that it can come back inside when it wants to or to try to make sure to open the door back up when it wants to come back inside. 

Separation anxiety

The cause could be that it has some separation anxiety. This would be more likely if it does go outside when you go outside and if it shows signs of anxiety when you are about to leave it. 

Coldness, heat or wetness

The cause might also be that it thinks that it is too hot, cold or wet outside. This would be more likely if it does go outside when the weather is nice but not when the weather is not nice.

Other animals

The cause might also be that it hears other animals outside. This would be more likely if it does go outside during the day but it is hesitant to go outside at night when other animals are more likely to be in the backyard.

It hears noises

The cause might also be that it hears noises outside. This would be more likely if it only refuses to go outside when it is noisy outside. 

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it. 

What else happened when it first started doing it

If your dog has not always been afraid to go outside, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started avoiding going outside. If it stopped going outside suddenly, it might be due to things such as making it stay outside for a long time or something happening to it while it was outside. 

What is different when your dog does go outside

If there is a certain time that it tends to avoid going outside, it would also help to consider what is different when it does not go outside. For example, if it only refuses to go outside when you are not outside as well, it might be due to separation anxiety. 

The body language it shows

It would also help to consider the body language it shows when it does it.

If it shows signs of being anxious by doing things such as crying, avoiding eye contact and making itself appear smaller, it would be more likely that it is doing it due to something causing it to be anxious such as being fearful that it won’t be allowed back inside.

What to do about your dog being afraid to go outside

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior. 

Positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training is where you encourage the behaviors you want to see by rewarding your dog when it shows signs of displaying them. To use it to get your dog to be more willing to go outside, you could go outside and reward it whenever it shows signs of coming out with you.

Don’t force it to do so when it does not want to

If it often has to wait a long time to come back inside, it would likely help to allow it to come back inside whenever it might want to. It would also likely help to avoid forcing it to go outside since it will likely just cause it to be more hesitant to go outside. Instead, it would help to reward it whenever it shows signs of being willing to go outside.

Get help

If you cannot get your dog to stop doing it or it has been behaving very unusually, it would likely help to get the help of a professional dog behaviorist in your area. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog and to see what you can do to get it to stop.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.