Solo outside time for puppy
January 4, 2010 4:09 PM   Subscribe

How can I get this dog to go outside without humans?

I have a 3 yr old former street puppy, who I've had since month three or four of her life. She is fairly well-trained and housebroken but will not go outside unless people accompany her. I used to live in a house without a backyard, but now have a fenced in backyard.

She enjoys the backyard - there are dogs on the other sides of the fences that she runs and interacts with. She has many toys out there. She just will not go outside by her lonesome. If we're doing projects in the house with noisy tools, something which upsets her, she still will not go outside and wait it out.

I'd really like to not have to stand outside in the freezing ass cold every morning while she does her dirty sinful business. I do take her for walks and play with her, but would like to be able to just let her out periodically while I have other things to attend to.

She does in general seem very attached to me and the gentleman companion, and prefers to kick it with us instead of, I don't know, chewing a bone in the other room or whatever, so is this just a part of her personality? Are there easy ways of getting doggykins outside?
posted by palindromic to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
Just to clarify, so this has been going on for over two and a half years?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:18 PM on January 4, 2010

This may sound harsh, but what you do is put the dog outside, go inside, and come back in an hour or so. If this impedes your work schedule, start on the weekends.

In inclement weather? maybe not, but anything over 30 degrees is fine.

this may take a while, but it works, there is an art to ignoring dogs.
posted by Max Power at 4:21 PM on January 4, 2010

My wife and I had the exact same problem with our dog. What we did was once spring came, we tried to leave the back door open all day. Our house is in a safe location and we don't use the AC so that was how we were cooling the house down anyways. In the mornings I would go out with him, and I would do the same in the evenings. It took all spring and summer, but eventually he came to realize that the back yard was part of his space and he was free to go out there unsupervised. Our dog still prefers to be with us like 99.99999% of the time. But in the morning I just let him out and close the door and he does his business without my company, and if i'm working on something loud in the house, he knows the back yard is a quite safe place for him.
posted by phelixshu at 4:22 PM on January 4, 2010

If your dog is like my dog, it ain't gonna happen. I know it's not very dog-like behaviour, but it's pretty common in shelter dogs.

I actually got my 45lb boxer go out two days in a row with phelixshu's method but then OH MY GOD THERE WAS A CAT! A CAT! A CAT! and that was the end of that.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:32 PM on January 4, 2010

Response by poster: A Terrible Llama:
It wasn't a 'problem' until recently, because I would have to go outside with her because of the nature of our living situation - no backyard and living in Detroit = you attend to your dog. Now that I have a backyard, I would like to be able to do so, like a normal suburban dog owner.
posted by palindromic at 4:41 PM on January 4, 2010

I find it's common in most dogs. They are pack animals that thrive on companionship and are most content when they are with their pack (that's you). Being isolated from you does not make them feel safe.
posted by cecic at 5:21 PM on January 4, 2010

Oh, I see. I have a scaredy dog too. She's six years old now and much better than she used to be, but she still has these weird neuroses.

At any rate, we've made great strides with her over the years, and most of it has come from not making an issue of anything, letting her try things out and feel brave, so she accomplishes things on her own and gains confidence. She's really almost unrecognizeable.

It's hard because it's winter so you don't want to leave the door open or anything, so it might be a wash for the winter time. Ideally, you leave the door open and mind your own business. At least, that's the sort of thing that worked for us.

At any rate, to deal with the immediate problem of standing around waiting to pee, we've found bribery at the end of the pee to really facilitate the quick nighttime pee. So we wave a piece of leftover steak (bit of hot dog, cheese, whatever we have) in front of her nose, go outside, saying 'gopeegopeegopee', and she's so enthused she pees in thirty seconds.

Then we go in and she gets the steak. Learning to do this really improved our lives -- we can't let her out alone or unleashed at night, we live in a woodsy area with coyotes. It's ritualizing so it takes some time, but in terms of your immediate problem it might be worth it and the fastest route to your goal of getting the hell back inside.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:36 AM on January 5, 2010

I just realized you're referring specifically to mornings, but everything still applies.

Also, dogs like bacon as much as the internet does. Bacon = powerfully motivating.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:37 AM on January 5, 2010

My friends had a similar issue. Their dog had separation anxiety and wouldn't go at all in the backyard, only on walks. It completely disappeared when they got a second dog who knew the drill. You could try another dog to teach your dog that it is ok to go in the backyard, alone.
posted by Gor-ella at 9:42 AM on January 5, 2010

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