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Canine Behavior/dog afraid to go in backyard bc of birds

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Question
There is a bird that began dive bombing my dog every time she'd go out back to potty.  This began few weeks ago and my dog will now only go out back when I'm with her and even then she sits right next to me. she will not go potty in the backyard anymore. She is fine on walks and also in the front yard. My dog does not bark so the bird isn't afraid of her. I don't want to have the bird killed. I can't keep taking the dog for multiple daily walks just so she can go to the bathroom.  How can I get my dog to go the bathroom in the backyard again?  thank you for any direction you can provide.

Answer
Well that's a tough situation - trying to balance your dog's needs and comfort while respecting the local wildlife. The likelihood is that the bird is protecting a nest and so is feeling more defensive. I've been dive-bombed by humming birds at my house, which sounds like it wouldn't be a big deal given how little they are, but boy they have a very loud buzz with those fast moving wings as they swoop past less than a foot from your head! It can be disconcerting. I feel for your dog.

How can we address this? Well, we can adjust the times of day when the dog goes out back. The bird is likely to be gone searching for food for large portions of the day, so if you can pay attention to the bird's schedule, you can begin taking the dog in the back yard when she's not there and then play games, give super tasty treats, snuggle and cuddle out there to help your dog re-associate the space with good things and not scary things.

You could potentially put up some large screening or awning like fabric to create a covered area in the yard so that the dog can go to a place that feels more protected. Perhaps one of those canopies that can be purchased at a Home Depot or Lowe's. Something like these:
http://www.homedepot.com/s/canopy?NCNI-5

This would provide some protection and disincline the bird to charge your dog. Take the dog out there for her meals and play time and give her very favorite treats only outside under that canopy. Doing these things will help create good associations for her and if we're preventing the bird from attacking, then we can undo the fear and instill the pleasure again. It's only been happening for a few weeks, so there's a good chance we can quickly help your dog feel more secure again in a relatively short time.

Birds do tend to move on as the seasons change, so as we get to the end of the summer, the bird is likely to leave anyway, which will then give you the rest of the year to help her feel better about her back yard again. And then, next year, you can put the canopy up again at the start of the summer and just have it in place through the season. This also provides your dog with a good shaded area so if she wants to be outside, but out of the sun, she has that opportunity as well.

Another option would be trying to scare away the bird right now, rather than wait for her regular migration. There are several options from reflective ribbon tape that can be hung out to fake owls to units that put out sounds like birds of prey or supersonic pitches that are uncomfortable to the bird. These are all humane options which don't harm the bird, but will incline all the birds near your yard to vacate.

The only caution is with the supersonic options - make sure it's not a noise that bothers your dog as well...

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dlawngarden&field-key

I hope one or more of these options prove helpful. Please feel free to followup if I can be of further assistance.

Jody, CPDT-KA, APDT
Los Angeles Behvaiorist
http://NutzAboutMutz.com

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT

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IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com/ If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.

Experience

I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

Organizations
I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications
http://NutzAboutMutz.com ; http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

Education/Credentials
I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

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