Author Topic: Fourth of July broke my dog - how to get her outside again?  (Read 1405 times)

Offline bit-bit

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I'm out of town for work, and my dog is home alone with my husband for a few weeks.  She was obviously a bit stressed at first by the change in routine, and had a couple accidents on the floor (which hadn't happened since the first week after we brought her home in January), but had been doing fine again until Friday.

I guess the fireworks really scared her.  It's odd, because we've had neighbors setting off firecrackers nearby all spring, and while she gets a bit frightened, her reaction hasn't been extreme.  But now, she's in complete meltdown mode.

She's refusing to go outside, at all.  She'll still wake my husband up at all hours acting like she needs to go, but won't come near the door.  He can pick her up and carry her out, but she'll cower and run for the house without doing what she needs to do.  She's making messes on the carpet because she isn't going out, but only when my husband is not nearby to correct her.

She's driving my poor husband crazy, and I'm sure this isn't too pleasant for her either.  There haven't been any fireworks since Friday night, but she can't seem to break the association of outside = terrifying.  If he could get her to potty outside even once, positive reinforcement might work to bring her back to her normal good behavior, but it's hard to know how to start that cycle.

I think he's going to carry her to the car today and try to hike at her favorite park.  I told him to bring treats and praise her heavily if she does anything there.  Not sure what else will help, though.

Anyone have pointers? 

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Fourth of July broke my dog - how to get her outside again?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2014, 09:40:18 AM »
I'd do positive reinforcement starting with coming near the door, walking out the door, standing outside. Obviously you can break it down into smaller steps than that, but you may have to basically reteach her that nothing scary is going to happen when she's near the door or goes through the door. I'd worry that carrying her through the door is just confirming her fear that something bad will happen if she walks through it herself.

A clicker would probably help if your husband is willing to figure out how to do clicker training. Associate the click with a high value treat and give her click/treat when she is anywhere near the door then narrow that field down to closer, closer. I'd start with it closed than open it, etc, etc.

Offline bit-bit

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Re: Fourth of July broke my dog - how to get her outside again?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2014, 04:25:41 PM »
Thanks, mutewolf.  I'll pass on the suggestion of baby steps to my husband.  It's tough to think about having to work so slowly for something as basic as going outside, but I guess it might be the only way.  I think it's more frustrating for all of us while I'm away, because I definitely understand animals better than he does, but I can't be there to see her body language right now.

She's not scared of being lifted and carried, though I know many dogs are.  She goes limp like a pup being scruffed by its mom, but is perfectly happy when we set her back down.  My husband carried her to the car for a trip to the park today - I think they're still there, so I'm not sure how it went.  Car rides are one of her favorite things, so we're hoping that's a reward in itself.

I wonder if she's been clicker trained before, actually.  We've never used one, but I know that if I click my tongue, it always gets her attention instantly.  She's also very responsive to her name and was incredibly well-trained when she came home, so it's actually something we haven't had to work on together.

We have a front and a back door, and she's used to going out both for walks.  She usually spends a lot of her day laying near the back door, because it has low windows where she can look out and watch the birds and rabbits outside.  Now she's just cowering under the couch or shadowing my husband around, so she's obviously still pretty upset.

Offline bit-bit

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Re: Fourth of July broke my dog - how to get her outside again?
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2014, 06:57:10 AM »
Well, he finally got her to go outside this morning of her own volition, with lots of encouragement and treats.  She didn't go to the bathroom (and he had to go to work afterward, so I'm sure it will be on the carpet later), but it's a step in the right direction.

It sounded like they had fun at the park yesterday, but I don't think she makes an association between that and just going out for a walk, especially since she didn't walk to the car on her own four feet.  Usually she runs to the car every time we take her out to potty, and we have to give her a bit of encouragement to walk the neighborhood instead, so I guess this was to be expected.

It sounds like it's getting better.  I just wish I could be there to help, you know?

Offline mutewolf

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Re: Fourth of July broke my dog - how to get her outside again?
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2014, 10:44:46 AM »
Yay! I'm glad she was able to get outside!

I totally understand. I hate being away from my bubs too, especially when something is wrong, even it's minor.