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Canine Behavior/Dog afraid to go outside


Hi! My friend and I just moved into the city from the suburbs and she brought her dog with her. Her dog is almost a year old (11 months) and is a Jindo breed, she was 8 months when we moved downtown. Every time we take her out for a walk she is refusing more and more. She runs away and hides under the kitchen table when she sees us grabbing the leash and will be very scared. We live in an apt building so when we get to the elevator she will start to shake (more often now then before) because knows we are going outside. She never makes it out the door to outside, and sometimes not even the elevator. Recently she refuses to get out of the apartment and will pull on the leash. We always have to carry her outside, and she is always shaking. We feel bad for her but we don't know what to do, she only seems to be getting worse. We think it's the noise that she is bothered with, when we walk her at night time it's more quiet so she doesn't pull on the leash as much until she knows we're closer to the apartment. But during the day with cars and people strolling by she just panics and pulls and shakes! We don't know what to do and how to get her accustomed to the city life, she really hates going outside. What can we do to help her be less scared and be able to become comfortable going outside? Thanks so much! (by the way- she walked fine in the suburbs in the neighborhood where she lived and was not scared).

Your dog has not been habituated to the quite different environment she finds herself in.  Apparently, she is a "soft" temperament and fear can be an inherited factor (tendency toward fearfulness).  The best approach would have been to introduce her, in small "bits", to city life in a casual manner randomly for a few weeks, but too late now.  She is being what is called "flooded".  This sort of experience can aggravate a fear response and make it rapidly worse.  Your reactions (concern, attempt to calm, soothe, etc.) may have exacerbated her fear.

At this point you really need some veterinary assistance as well as the eye of an experienced positive reinforcement trainer.  Are you in NYC?  I suggest you call the Animal Medical Center and make an appointment with a veterinary behaviorist.  The dog may need some short term medication (I would suggest at least propanolol which is a beta blocker that truncates the rush of adrenaline) and they will also be able to direct you to a reliable, certified, educated trainer or, if you can afford a bit more $, a certified applied animal behaviorist.  Beware of any "forceful" methodologies.  Not only will they not work, but a person in dog behavior who suggests same is an idiot and not worth a dime.

Meanwhile:  make her night time walks extremely rewarding so long as she is NOT demonstrating ANY FEAR.  Observe her carefully and when you see she is obviously relaxed, stand in place (do and say nothing) until she gives you her full attention (or sits) and then have a "party" for a few seconds and pop a high value food treat into her mouth.  You MUST be certain she is NOT stressed or you will be reinforcing the fear.  We can hope to at least build some new associations but they may not generalize to daytime walks (most likely will not without expert assistance.)  At 11 months, the dog is physiologically changing (brain development) and this can be a "fear age" for some dogs to begin with.  If your friend's parents are willing to take the dog back (in the suburbs), I strongly suggest this is most likely the most humane approach and the least expensive.  You can't fix this by yourself, it's not simple, and it won't get better on its own.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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