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Rebecca
Master November 2015

NWR - How to get a dog to stay outside by himself

Rebecca, on February 19, 2016 at 10:17 AM Posted in Community Conversations 0 39
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Do any of you have ideas on how to train a dog to be okay with being outside by himself? For context, our dog is generally very well-trained and has no separation anxiety when we leave the house. He's crate-trained but we don't even use it during the day because he just sleeps on his pet bed all day. However, when we're home, he wants to constantly be at someone's side. When we let him go outside, he'll run out there if he REALLY has to go, but usually he'll take a few steps out and then stop and turn around to make sure someone is coming with him. It's pretty annoying to have to go outside with him when it's cold or raining but we've at least gotten him to go out if one of us stands in the doorway.

He's a very social dog so as a general rule we don't leave him alone for long periods of time other than for work, but it'd be nice to be able to leave him out on a nice day if it's going to be 9 or 10 hours and him be ok with it. cont in comments...

39 Comments

Latest activity by Sherri, on January 24, 2020 at 5:23 PM
  • Rebecca
    Master November 2015
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    I'm pretty sure if we had a doggy door he wouldn't even use it but we might need to train him for that if we can. I'd just like to leave him outside and not have to worry about him scratching at doors. Any ideas? Hiding treats around the yard? Crating him but in the backyard?

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  • mrs.ford
    VIP August 2016
    mrs.ford ·
    • Flag

    I would maybe try leaving him out with some toys or something to occupy him?? My dogs stay outside while me and FH work but they are ok because they are with each other. However one time we left our pitbull alone...(blaize was at the vet, roxy was at my parents) and he has HORRIBLE separation anxiety. But toy's always seem to help.

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  • mrs.ford
    VIP August 2016
    mrs.ford ·
    • Flag

    I just saw the other comment...hiding treats would be a good idea!

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  • A&C
    Dedicated April 2016
    A&C ·
    • Flag

    What kind of dog? My youngest (5 yr old cocker spaniel) is like that. A few years ago we found out she's allergic to grass, trees, and flowers so maybe there is a reason why your dog doesn't like being outside. Also, just from my personal experience I've noticed smaller dog breeds usually like to be indoors better where as bigger dogs like the freedom.

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  • Rebecca
    Master November 2015
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    A&C, that's funny, he's a 6-year-old English springer spaniel which were bred from cocker spaniels Smiley smile That's a good idea but he eats grass a lot and is fine so I don't think it's an allergy thing. He's mid-size, about 60 lbs.

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  • Leona
    Expert August 2016
    Leona ·
    • Flag

    Off topic, but A&C, how do you treat your dogs allergies? My pit has awful allergies, and the vet just keeps giving him steroids. It's adding up fast since there is a vet visit fee, med fee, shot fee, etc etc

    I've been looking in to allergy treatments, but those are also very costly and involve weekly shots administered at home.

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  • JadedRaven
    VIP September 2016
    JadedRaven ·
    • Flag

    My pittie has this problem Rebecca. We throw a (smallish) treat out in the yard and tell her to "Go get it". Her tail goes in circles and she loves the hunt. Then she'll take the time to pee and whatever else while she's out there. If she has toys she can chew, she'll even bring up upstairs onto the deck and chew away. The treat usually gets her excited about going out there though. The treat needs to be big enough for her to find eventually, but not so big she can see it easily. She usually sniffs them out. It keeps her entertained and I think lets her exercise some doggy skills.

    There are times where she just does just refuse. She just doesn't want to go outside by herself because what she wants is us to play with her. So ALSO, make sure your dog is getting enough play time with you guys.

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  • Caroline
    Master June 2016
    Caroline ·
    • Flag

    My American bulldog is extremely attached to FH and me and she is so much happier if we're outside with her. She would never, ever want to stay outside all day.... She loves to snooze in our bedroom while we're at work haha.

    But we've worked on her being a bit more independent outside by playing with her out there, leaving a toy outside and just generally trying to get her to like the backyard. We just moved and now we have a 1 acre ravine behind us... She has so much fun out there. But only for 20 mins at a time - she's still so attached! lol

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  • Kactus Kat
    VIP July 2016
    Kactus Kat ·
    • Flag

    My dog has a doggy door and I think that has helped a lot because he can let himself out during the day and so now it's not strange for him to be outside by himself. It has definitely helped with him scratching at doors. I almost always feed him outside so he is out there by himself while he eats. Hiding treats is a great idea, I do that when we are going to be gone overnight.

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  • Elizabeth
    VIP September 2016
    Elizabeth ·
    • Flag

    Hello! This is right up my alley! Okay so- have you ever tried clicker training? It's AMAZING and yields great results. Clicker training will take time (especially with this issue), but almost always works (esp. on dogs who are well balanced). Basis: if he does something you want him to do you, "click" the clicker and then treat. You'll need to teach him to associate the clicker as a positive thing first, though. So in the beginning you just sit there with him for about 5 minutes a few times per day for a few days (2 to 3 max) and just click & treat. This teaches him that the clicker is positive and that the clicker means "yes!" . Anyway, if you slowly teach him to "stay" outside as you gradually further your distance from him each time you practice (you may need to teach him to sit & stay if you haven't already). Eventually, you'll move to standing inside the door frame and then you'll move on to standing inside with the door closed. Watch him out the door and make him stay for a bit. Eventually he'll be able to stay outside as he will associate it as being a good thing rather than a bad thing... Anyway, hope that helps. Kind of a rushed synopsis of clicker training. If you research clicker training that will help too. Good luck- woof!

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  • Briana
    Expert March 2019
    Briana ·
    • Flag

    I'd be hesitant to leave him out for that long. Especially if he eats grass. If he gets bored he might dig up your yard. Who knows what he could get into outside while you're not home. And there's always the possibility that somebody could steal him. I just wouldn't risk it.

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  • lovin' life
    Master March 2016
    lovin' life ·
    • Flag

    Rebecca- I love English Springer Spaniels! Awesome dogs. Dogs are pack animals, and you and DH are his pack. He is also a very social breed that loves to "work". I would put that nose of his to work. Hide treats and toys with your scent on them and let him find them. Get him one of those treat balls. You put treats in them and the dog has to roll it around to get them out. Give him something to do while he is out there. Things to explore, like a playschool tunnel. Your breed was bred to work with people and other dogs. The more affectionate they are, the more they hate being alone. I am not sure he will ever be happy being alone outside for long periods of time. You could get another dog for him to pal with. Smiley smile Good luck!

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  • kai
    Devoted October 2016
    kai ·
    • Flag

    I would be afraid to leave my dog outside for 9-10 hours with nobody home. Does your dog have a dog house or other shelter?

    Re: getting them used to being outside by themselves. What does the dog do if you don't follow him outside? If it isn't dangerous or destructive, I would just shut the door. Let him sit out there for 5 minutes then bring him in. Leave the door open on nice days so he knows he can go out there whenever he wants without needing you. Gradually, increase the time you have him outside. But I wouldn't ever leave the dog outside with nobody home for longer than a hour. Too much could happen and you wouldn't even know until it was much too late.

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  • Rebecca
    Master November 2015
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    Katie - did your dog start using the doggy door naturally when you got it?

    Briana - I worry about digging too. He loves being in enclosed spaces so I wonder if a dog house would help him. I would normally worry about stealing but we're a little out in the country in a more secluded neighborhood (only one way in and out) and almost all the other dogs in the neighborhood are regularly left outside.

    lovin' life - yes, they are amazing dogs! I would never leave him outside alone consistently since he is so social but it would just be nice to have the option every once in a while so that he can use the bathroom more easily. I like the idea of treat balls, I think he would like that a lot.

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  • Rebecca
    Master November 2015
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    Kai, I'm wondering if we should get a dog house. We wouldn't leave him out if there were any chance of bad weather or if it were too cold or too hot. In general we wouldn't even leave him outside while we're at work, it would just be nice to have the option. We're in a small, secluded neighborhood so I'm not worried about someone stealing him. The only thing I would worry about is him digging to get out if he gets anxious, or scratching at the door.

    If he REALLY has to go, like first thing in the morning, he'll go by himself and stay outside for a few minutes. But in general, if we don't follow him, he stops and turns around and sits at the door. Eventually he'll start whining and after that he starts scratching at the door.

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  • lovin' life
    Master March 2016
    lovin' life ·
    • Flag

    @Rebecca- I would not let him outside when you are not home. Your breed can suffer from separation anxiety if left in that situation. So many things could happen or go wrong. Do you have a way to enclose a small ,secure area by the door he uses? If you put in a doggie door that he could use that enters into a small,secure area, that would be better than leaving him out alone all day. You could also contact the English Springer Spaniel club of America for advice. They would give you some good ideas and thoughts on the subject. I still vote for a companion. Smiley smile

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  • Mikayla
    VIP September 2016
    Mikayla ·
    • Flag

    I would not leave a dog outside for 9-10 hours ever for any reason. Especially this dog who sounds like he already has a hard time being without you.

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  • Rebecca
    Master November 2015
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    Lovin' life - we've been thinking about a second dog but we're hoping to conceive soon and aren't too keen on having a new dog and a baby at the same time. Someday though hopefully Smiley smile

    We actually have two doors to the backyard, one upper level and one lower level, but one leads to a deck and the other is concrete. I think getting a doggy door and training him to be ok using that will probably be the way to go Smiley smile we still would never leave him for more than about a typical workday, 9 or so hours, but it'd be nice if he could use the bathroom more regularly on his own.

    ETA: He has zero separation anxiety when being left alone inside, for context.

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  • Rebecca
    Master November 2015
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    O&S not even just letting a dog go freely back and forth with a doggy door (the kind with the magnetic lock obviously)? Why not? I'm just curious, there are lots of outdoor dogs in our neighborhood - I don't like it as a primary place, especially when people are home, but a lot of people I know leave their dogs outside on nice days.

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  • Sara
    Super November 2016
    Sara ·
    • Flag

    Our dogs love it outside! Give him a reason to want to be out there that way he associates it with fun

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