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Canine Behavior/Sudden refusal to come inside


QUESTION: Hi, I have an Akita, German Shepherd, Chow mix that rescued 1year ago. She is perfectly healthy and has made huge adjustments nicely. She is likely about 2 or 3 years old. This morning she was very excited to go for our walk. Since then, she has insisted on being outside all day. Since6:00 am, she has spent approximately 40 minutes inside...a period of 10 hours. The temp here in Ny is mid 20's. There has been a snow storm all day. We have had several this year, but she has never reonded like this. There have been no inside changes that I can see. I've invited her in several times, but she won't enter. I am mainly concerned with her health in this weather. She does have a very thick coat. Quite like an Akita. Not even sure if this is a problem. Thank you!

ANSWER: Yes.  This is a problem.

1.  Can you define the FIRST time she exhibited reluctance to cross the threshold?
2.  Have you tried taking her in a different door from the one she "left" through?
3.  What do you mean by "invited her in"...
4.  What do YOU DO when she "won't enter".
5.  Do you know if this dog was found as a stray at large?
6.  Is she spayed?

While you answer these questions, I want you to do the following for this day and tomorrow morning:

Take her out on leash do not "turn" her out into the yard.  Go through the front door (if you have a fenced yard you can access the back door from).  BEFORE going OUT, stop.  Ask for "sit" (hopefully you have taught her this), step through the door FIRST and allow her to follow you.  Walk her, take her back (the first time) through the front door: stop, ask for sit, walk through first, as she crosses the threshold (AS she crosses it) pop a high value food reward into her mouth (string cheese chunk).  If she comes in freely without hesitating, use the back door the next time.  Keep the string cheese for the purpose of food reward (and quiet, calm praise) AS she crosses the threshold.  We might be able to turn this around easily.  We might not.  Worth a try.

Report back using FOLLOWUP feature please so I can see original Q & A.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi, thank you for such a quick answer. Before I answer your f/u questions, I will tell you that after 10 hours, she happily pranced through the door,  ready to come inside. Evidently she was either playing a game or having too much fun, to answer the questions, the first time was yesterday, I had not even thought of taking her in the front door, but it sounds like a good idea if there is a recurrence. "inviting"her in meant openi g the door and telling her to come in. Since she was refusing yesterday the word " invite" seemed appropriate. When she refused, I used a different ( softer, more playful, more stern etc.) tone of voice. She is spayed, and she was found as a stray at large.  I know you didn't need the questions answered as the problem seems to have resolved, but I felt it would be disrespectful not to. I very much appreciate your time and expertise, and I will print this to put in her folder, in case I need to act on this in the future.
Great fully,

Oh TY so much Todd, how thoughtful!!!

If she ever does this again...slam the door in her face.  Count to ten. Open it.  Give her five seconds to cross the threshold.   If she does not, close the door again.  Count to twenty.  Don't let the dog manipulate you.  Any further problems, ask away.

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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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