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Canine Behavior/Lab puppy afraid to go outside


Hello there.

We recently got a black lab puppy from a breeder in Ontario. We got Django at 8 weeks old and he is now 11 weeks. He has a clean bill of health and is a happy and loving puppy.

Up until yesterday Django was fine going outside. He was pretty much all housebroken unless we didn't stick to his schedule. Yesterday, on our morning walk, Django heard and saw 2 large trucks pass by and make a lot of noise. He got really scared and ran back to the main door. Since then he doesn't go outside anymore. When I pick him up and put him out he cries and tries to run back home. I even tried using treats and he gets distracted for a second but gets scared again right after and runs back home.

I should also mention that we live right in front of train tracks which pass by our back yard so even there he doesn't want to go... I don't know what to do... He wants to pee and poo but he doesn't want to do it outside...

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you


Ok.  Knee jerk reaction:  Take the dog to the car (even if you have to carry him).  Give him tiny treats and drive a few blocks from home.  When you get out of the car, have a "party": laugh, sing a little song, observe the dog's body language.  If he begins to show fear (tail set, ear set, hackles up), start circling: large circles left, right.  JACKPOT every urination and defecation (two to three chunks of FAT FREE string cheese).  Put him back in the car, bring him home.  BUT...don't carry him back into the house.  Take him out of the car and prepare to wait.  For a long time.  If he freezes, stop everything.  Stand still.  If he tries to frantically pull, stop everything.  Stand still.  Be absolutely CERTAIN he is wearing a BODY HARNESS and not attached to the leash by a collar (to avoid damage to his trachea if he pulls).  I'd like you to try this for two solid weeks.  I don't care how long you have to stand there until he moves NORMALLY toward your door but, as he does does, have a "party", sing a little song, clap your hands and BE HAPPY.  

Meanwhile:  when train goes by (dog is inside), have a "party", clap your hands, OH HOW WONDERFUL LOOK A TRAIN IS GOING BY OH MY WHAT FUN, squeak a toy and throw it for him.  He's looking to YOU right now to determine what is safe and what is not.  YOU must be calm, YOU must be TOTALLY CARE FREE, YOU must demonstrate how wonderful, safe and happy this is.  At 11 weeks, he is in the middle toward the end of a fear phase that is natural to the domestic dog.  WHAT YOU DO about this complex problem will determine how quickly he "forgets" the conditioned fear response (it's called "extinction").  Consistent, upbeat, care free and joyful approach should eliminate the fear.  Report back using followup feature.  Never address the fear: ignore it.  Reward normal behavior.  This is a "soft" dog (meaning his temperament), he may very well be more easily frightened than other dogs.  Frankly, the Labrador Retriever is a "gun" dog (intended as companion in hunting birds) and should not exhibit frank fear in the presence of loud noises unless, of course, his breeder has no field experience and therefor is not breeding to type.

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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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