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Laura, Consultant
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 30
Experience:  39 years experience training, raising and breeding dogs. Internationally recognized.
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Our Dog is Afraid to Come Inside

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We rescued our dog Tin Tin in July. At first she seemed to have seperation anxiety, she always wanted to be with us, following our every move. About 2 months ago she decided she didn't want to ever come inside, we have to trick her to come inside now.

When she comes in she will let us pet her but really just wants to go back outside and sometimes even shakes when we come near her? Neither one of us have ever hit her so we don't know what to think or do at this point....we give her treats whenever we get in her inside. Help!


First I would like to thank you for adopting Tin Tin and giving her a forever home.

We are very active in rescue in our personal breed, the Toller and understand the difficulty you face.

Many times rescues have a sad past and it takes a long time (if ever) for them to come around. If you know you have never done anything to her for her to have this reaction it is something in her past. It might be something in the house. Think if there is anything specific she is afraid of. Is it a slippery floor? Or is it something you unintentionally did? Crate her when you left the house? Many times with rescues something that is acceptable for a normal dog will set a rescue off. Was Tin Tin a kennel dog and never in the house? Where does she eat? Is she kenneled outside or left loose in the yard?

Any kinds of details you can give me will help formulate a plan to help you make Tin Tin a wonderful family member.

Hope to hear from you soon,


Cinnsar Retrievers

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Laura's Post: She was with a couple who rescued dogs and had about 10 of them, all outside and only outside. I'm not sure if they crated her or left her out and about.

We have left her outside during the day since we got her from them. She has a doggie door and comes inside to get her food and water, another water is outside too.

Day 3 she ate all of the wood blinds because we left her inside, before doggie door. Day 4 she ran away and came back the next day. That day we crated her and she busted out of the crate. We never crated her again and she was fine....

For the first few months every time we came home after the above she was at the door waiting for us, excited to see us and followed us everywhere.

Then it suddenly changed, now she only wants to be outside. She comes in at night to eat when we are sleeping.

We get her inside and give her treats and affection, she sleeps with us at night with the door closed and doesn't put up a fuss but anytime she can get back out, she does...we close the doggie door when we bring her in so she doesn't get back out.

When I say get her inside I mean we can't just call her, we have to go outside and get behind her so she will run away into the house , away from the "bad" people, us apparently.

Are we better off just letting her live outside all the time, even when it's cold outside to see if she ever comes in on her own again?

I did give her a bath in the shower with me and we used the hair dryer to dry her but could that affect her behavior for 2 whole months?

We had lots of company for Thanksgiving and everyone tried to get her to come in...she's just very timid and the shaking is heartbreaking!


Thank You for the good information.

This is a very complex problem, but I feel in time (lots of time) and patience you will be able to cure or partially cure her and make her a house companion. While it might have been the bath and hair dryer, I to do not believe that it in itself would have traumatized her so. I think that she is unsure about if the house is a good safe place since she with the exception of yours never been in a house. Several scary things have happened when she has been in the house. I think this added up. Some rescues are very traumatized and you never know until they react what causes them to panic. I am not sure if she is afraid of you, thou it sounds like you can pet and praise her. But I think she is afraid or unsure of what you will do to her in the house.

Large family gatherings are very difficult fo her right now. I am not surprised she was frightened.

I would myself certainly do anything I could to convince her to be a house dog. It is very difficult for your dog to be a family member if she lives outside.

She is eating in the house which is excellent. Once she is in the house she appears ok, again excellent. The way you get her inside you are chasing her essentially and we need to change this. We need to try to develop a positive way to get her into the house and want to stay into the house. If she will walk on leash it is far better for you to walk her on leash luring her as necessarily with food into the house. As you walk her reassure with words, food and petting that all is good. If at some point she gets scared, stop. Talk and reassure her. I do not want you to force her into the house. Only go as far as you can. Do this several times a day in succession. Use only positive praise and treats to let her know what you want her to do. Also teach her to "come". Using a treat in hand, call her (Not toward the house, but to some neutral area) "Tin Tin Come". She should be pretty close and know you have a treat and when she comes give her the treat and LOTS of praise. After petting let her go walk off. Then call her again. Repeat this a half dozen times each day. If you read my training methods article: you will see that I believe in a balanced method of training that uses all reinforcer's. However in your case you have a traumatized rescue dog, and she only needs positive reinforcement. With the come command at first always give her a treat along with praise, but as she gets better only give her a treat once in a while. Then she will not expect a treat every time. Same with walking on a leash. Encourage her to walk with you, mainly with voice and petting, but with some treats. In time work up to calling her toward the house and walking her up to the house. Eventually you will be able to walk up to the house and walk her in. Then, while still in control walk her out. What a good girl. Go in then out, then in again. Sit with her on the floor. Pet her and talk to her telling her what a brave and good dog she is. Never just let her loose and allow her to rush out the door. Always gently walk her out the door, go to a comfortable place and then release her. At first do not turn her loose in the house, something, who knows what might cause her to panic. Keep everything under control. In time walk her around all rooms of the house. Note any particular rooms she is afraid of. Engage her in play if you can or sit on the floor and pet her. Eventually she will be happy in all rooms of the house. What you are doing is two fold. We are desensitizing and acclimating her to the house in only a positive manner and we are creating trust between the two of you.

In the meantime, You need to teach her a word to tell her it's dinner time. I would say to her "Tin Tin Dinner Time!" show her the bowl and set it down outside and you sit down near to it. Maybe 4 feet away. If she does not come and eat within 5 minutes pick it up and take it inside. Try latter in the day. The idea here is that you do not want her to sneak the food in the middle of the night. She needs to learn that you are the source of food. If she will not come up to the door with you there, do not feed her that night. Leave the dog door open, but no food. Don't worry a day or so without food is ok. Tomorrow morning she will eat at the door with you. Do not stair at her while she is eating. Try to feed her the same time each day and give her only enough food for that day. Always give the word "dinner time" so she knows when you say this it is time for her to eat. In no time I think she will get this concept. However you might have to start at more of a neutral place if she will not come to the door and eat. Once she is eating happily at the door with you present, now place the food in her normal eating place. You should again sit on the floor near to her. If it not too cold, I would leave the door open the first few times. Eventually you can open the door call her for dinner, shut the door after she enters or after if she does not come in right away and have her come in and eat. If she chooses to leave after eating let her. If she finishes eating and then looks at you for affection this is great and you can have an extra treat or if she likes toys engage her in play and petting. You want to try to engage her to play and sit with you.

The idea is not to do anything that might scare her. I know this is difficult because most things will scare her.

I think with these suggestions you can see the stages you will need to go through. Eventually she will stay on her own more time and once she will walk in the house with you for a short time, she will be comfortable enough for you to close the dog door all night. I know it is winter and I hate to have her outside at night or when it is raining or snowing. So it is important to get her happy walking into the house at night so you can have her in the bed room with you.

Be creative in you training, remember using only positive reinforcement.

This is a long term process. It will take many months of work to gain her confidence. A good friend's rescue took 6 months for the dog to walk on the kitchen floor.

Tin Tin does need an obedience class, not so much for the obedience, but helping her develop a good relationship with you and learning to socialize with other humans and dogs. You might want to find a private instructor for a few lessons, then start a class.

You should teach her that a crate is a happy place to be, but right now you have more pressing issues.

I hope this has answered your question. If it has not or you need more information, please write me back and I will gladly respond. Feedback is also very important to me, I want to know what you think. If my answer has answered your question please hit the Accept button. Bonuses are always a wonderful welcome.

Thank You,


Cinnstar Retrievers

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