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Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16554
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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I adopted a 1 1/2 year old German Shepherd Mix. A lady had

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I adopted a 1 1/2 year old German Shepherd Mix. A lady had adopted and returned her after two weeks and kept her outside all the time. She is in my house a lot, day and night, but have difficulty in getting her outside. Treats and toys, standing outside, don't work, and eventually, seeing me sit out there, she will come out cautiously. If she does come out, she heads back in before I can close the door. I need to have her stay outside for an hour in the morning while I get ready for the day. She jumps on the sliding glass door, once I do get her out, but when I don't respond, she is usually stops after a minute, there is lots of green grass to roll in, a dog house, toys, etc. but she has this fear that once out, she won't be let back in.
She is too big to pull or pick up. After one week, she sits, will lay down when I tire of petting her, and even comes as she learns her name, as long as it is not to go outs
Hi there! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm happy to help you with your question today! Just like an in person consultation, I have a few questions to help figure out what is going on with her.

So how long have you had Skylar?

Is she crate trained at all?

Does she only get worried about the back yard, or does she hesitate at the front door too?

Do you know anything about her life before she was returned to the shelter by her last adopter?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We have had SKylar one week. I have had dogs all my life (80 years old now) and think there is no reason to use crates as once trained the dogs have always obeyed me as to lying down on their bed (which she is starting to understand. I think keeping dogs in crates is cruel and if someone is afraid of my dog I will put her in another room.

Once outside she is fine in the yard, plenty of place to run, she wags her tail, we play with her, she has a place to curl up, no problem.

Just getting her outside when she does not want to go as former "adopter" had her for two weeks and kept her outside all the time. I think she has worries that she can't come back in, but once outside she is fine.
I just can't move a 55 pound dog.

She was originally living with a couple, that divorced, since June and one lady did try her, the one who kept her outside but she was returned.

She had her tail between her legs when we saw her at the adoption center outside Petsmart and took a couple of days to adapt to us but her tail is up in the air and she loves it here.

It is just that she is stubborn about getting out sometimes and treats, going outside the door, throwing toys, will not get her out if she does not wish to as there is that old fear, she may not come back.

So any suggestions to get her out?


I appreciate all the great information you've given me. I have only one more question...

Do you feel like maybe she has a phobia about being left outide??
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, of course. When we put her out at first, she would jump against the glass doors and kept looking in. For fear of our glass doors getting scratched or jarred out of place, we closed the curtain. We do it every time now and she jumps a couple of times and then stops. I will not let her in when she does that since she will presume this is the way for her to always get in.

I watch from a window, and when she gives up after three or four tries, she wanders around the yard (big yard, lots of nice green grass that she then rolls in), she chases the squirrels, is not sensitive to loud noises, seems quite content, and lies down in the yard. I call her and then she comes into the house.

This morning, I got her out by putting her food outside and since it was later than usual (8 instead of 7) she went right out. I closed the curtains and she did not even once, jump against the window.

However, late last night when I wanted to take her out for her to do business, she refused to come out at first but then mother nature called and she came outside to me, did her business, I rewarded her with a treat and "good girl", and put her back in. She is completely housebroken.

I am sure that part of it was being outside all the time at the other house, however, in the afternoon she does not have the problem. I do think part of it is plain stubbornness, because she does other things which I am having problems with (like jumping up when excited, etc) and with patience I can solve those but I need to overcome this stubbornness as there is nothing that she fears in the yard itself and I want her outside a couple of hours a day (once in the morning and once in the afternoon so she can be assured that I will let her back in.

I just believe that having had dogs in my life, for 75 years, that I understand the phobia but also see the stubbornness a bit.

I leave her outside for about an hour each time (afternoon and morning) and she never comes back to the door once she leaves it.

Thanks so much for the additional information. I really appreciate it!!

I do agree that perhaps she's being a bit stubborn, and it seems like you're working out ways to get that to stop. The fact that she will go out when she feels like it tells me it's likely just an insecurity issue, rather than a phobia. In dogs, if they're phobic about something, they simply won't do it ever...and since she will go out from time to time with no problems makes me think this isn't an issue that's going to last forever.

So far your years of owning dogs is really helping. You are doing absolutely everything that I would do...I'd force her to go out...reward her when she does...not let her back in when she's jumping at the door....I'd do one more thing though...

I'd add an over-the-counter product to sort of take the edge off of these other times that she's hesitant to go out. A couple things you could try would be:

Melantonin is an over-the-counter drug that can be used to treat some anxiety issues in dogs. The dose you would give would be up to 3 mg given orally whenever necessary up to every 8 hours. More information can be found here: , which includes risks, warning signs to watch out for and other bits of useful information.

Try a DAP collar. These are collars that are impregnated with a man-made version of the dog appeasing pheromone, which is a pheromone that nursing bitches give off to their pups to help them feel calm and secure. It's something that humans can't smell, but it has an amazing effect on dogs with anxiety and other issues. Although you can find them at your vet's can also find them online at places like and Ebay for much cheaper. Just make sure they're DAP brand, as they seem to work better than some other versions.

If it were me...I'd try the collar. It really sounds like she's just a little anxious, but on her way towards getting over it...this will just speed things up a bit.

And of course, it's always good to keep in mind that she's only been with you a very, very short time, and in that time you've already made great strides with her. I think a little more time for her to sort of get comfortable and become confident in the environment will get her over this issue.

I hope this helps.
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