Canine Behavior/Routine


This is a followup because I couldn't find the button so here's the followup questions upon request to be answered. My Aussie began breaking her routine to do her business by going outside about two weeks ago. She began cowering immediately when I tried to get out of the door. When it's time to do her business, she would run down the hall into the bathroom where she a sit down or b laid down when I approached her. When she refuses to go outside to do her business, I have to hook her up to the leash and walk her out to go outside. When she cowers, I reassure her by petting her and telling her everything is okay. However, there is another door which is the front door for her to go out and do her business. In addition to having to walk her out, sometimes she sits and refuses to move however she will eventually get up and walk after I move a few step forward on the leash. When upon getting outside to unhook her, she tries to fight me by pulling away and tries to get free. At this time, I have to hug her to calm her down to tell her nothing is going to happen pet her then release to go do her business. After she does her business, I open the door and call for her and then she bolts in like a rocket to her crate.

You have to change your responses to your dog's fear.  She looks like an Aussie hybrid, if you have AKC papers then she is purebred; otherwise, we don't know the true parentage.  Some hybrids are more complex in behavior than others.  However, Aussies can be quite fearful (and I have treated many with fear aggression!)  

Always use the leash to take her out; do NOT turn her out by herself for at least ONE MONTH. Use the other door (front door?).  Keep a house tab on her (short, lightweight leash) when you are at home so you do not have to touch her physically or grab her collar to attach the outdoor leash.  Pick up the tab casually during the day, now and again, and pop a treat into her mouth, then drop the tab.  Use high value food reward: string cheese bit, chicken hot dog bit.  If she refuses the "bait" (food reward) continue to offer it until she has learned that your picking up the house tab is highly rewarding and does not immediately lead to a leash replacing it to take her outdoors.  About 35 trials (incidents) where you casually pick up the house tab and offer treat IMMEDIATELY AFTER you have it in your hand should establish a conditioned response to your picking up the house tab.  Spend a few days creating that response; do not use the house tab to "catch" her to put on her outdoor leash until she is CLEARLY anticipating reward and not fearful.

Now:  When she has that conditioned response and allows you to pick up the house tab for food reward, switch leads: remove house tab, put on outdoor leash, offer jackpot reward (several bits of high value food).  She will most likely refuse this at first since she has an acquired fear response.  HOWEVER, all YOU are doing to comfort her is actually 1. rewarding her fear (petting her to console her) and 2. establishing a dominant position she does not construe as loving ("hugging" a dog is a very dominant thing to do; it is RESTRAINT to a dog and does not convey comfort at all):  STOP.  Take her to the door (the front door, the door you do not normally use) on leash and step out.  Keep your back to her.  No matter how long it takes, since she does eventually step out and follow you, wait.  The moment she does this, calmly and in a low voice verbally praise her and begin to walk forward.  If she balks or struggles, turn your back to her and ignore it; wait for her to stop, and she will most likely take a few more steps.  No matter how long it takes for her to "do her business", you must be patient, you must ignore ANY sign of fear, you must ignore ALL attempts to back away from you, and reward each step forward with calm praise.  No direct eye contact, no bending over her, nothing but accompanying her.  As she urinates, say "Go pee" over and over again; it will take quite a while for her to obtain a conditioned response to those words since there is something about this entire scenario that is terrifying to her, but eventually what WILL happen is you will have a command for her to urinate: when you say "Go pee" she will do it (as I said, this could take weeks, maybe more).  As for defecation, if she is fed twice daily (morning and late afternoon) she will most likely defecate first thing in the morning and during her 2nd or 3rd walk (she should be taken out four times a day).

I would like you to learn how to teach your dog "attention" by seeing the following:

This is an important tool since it accomplishes two things:  1. It gives the dog confidence in your leadership and helps her to feel more secure;  2. she knows how to please you with very little effort and you are then in a position to teach her other things.

I have no idea why this dog has acquired this fear response (can't see anything from here) so you must be very vigilant on your walks to "do her business": observe what is going on around you and read her body language.  You might just spot whatever it is that has created this problem. Reading body language:

At this point, I do not advise you close the door of her crate so she can't get into it when she feels the need; however, at some point (as you see improvement), you might try this.  I call this "And now for something totally different" and, in this case, what it translates to is:  you do not get to hide in your crate but something wonderful will happen instead.  That "something wonderful" is a very short game of "chase the large rubber ball" or "find the hidden cookie".  Whether purebred or hybrid, she is clearly at least first generation Aussie.  This is a working breed and it requires a JOB.  Once this problem has cleared, I suggest you learn how to teach your dog some "tricks", such as you see here:

To use FOLLOWUP FEATURE:  keep the email you received that has the link to this answer.  To use followup, go back to this link and scroll down to the end of the answer.  You will see:  "Rate the Expert" and "Ask Followup Question".

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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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