Dog Afraid to Go Outside? Here’s Our Tips on What You Should Do

dog afraid to go outside

Dogs are often afraid to go outside, especially if they have never been exposed to the great outdoors before. This can be a huge problem for dog owners who want their furry friend to be able to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for a dog afraid to go outside. We hope that after reading this post, you and your dog will be able to enjoy outdoor activities together! 

Signs That Your Dog Afraid To Go Outside

dog love dog's favorite toys

Because we can’t simply ask a dog what the problem is, it’s important to pay attention to your pet’s stress signals and identify her triggers. This will help you identify when your dog is scared so that you can eventually desensitize and counter-condition her to gain confidence in the presence of things that scare her.

Canine body language usually indicates whether or not a dog afraid to go outside. Fear is frequently expressed by dogs in the following ways:

  • Panting
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Lip licking by a whale
  • averting one’s gaze
  • Freezing
  • Pacing
  • Drooling
  • Trembling
  • Depression
  • Defecating or urinating
  • Ears pinned back
  • Excessive whining or barking
  • Lying down and refusing to walk (pancaking)
  • Abruptly stopping while walking and refusing to move
  • Pulling strongly on the leash, possibly toward the house Aggression or reactivity
  • Crouching
  • Tail tucked

Observing these types of behaviors can help you determine whether your dog is afraid or stressed, as well as identify your dog’s triggers.

When a dog is afraid to go outside, it can have a significant negative impact on almost every aspect of her life. It can make potty training difficult and lead to obesity because there are fewer opportunities for exercise. It can also increase your dog’s stress levels, because dogs release a lot of mental stress by sniffing and exploring their surroundings through outdoor enrichment activities.

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Reasons Dogs Scared Of Going Outside

Dog Afraid To Go Outside| Dog Nervous Of Loud Noises

One of the most common reasons your pet may be afraid to go outside is because of loud noise or unusual scary noise. Dogs have a higher frequency range of hearing than humans. And the great outdoors is a great source of different sounds. As a result, a sound that appears to be soothing to one person might create intense fear to another.

If your dog is suddenly afraid to go outdoors for a short walk at the dog park, or if your dog is suddenly scared of the backyard, there’s a strong possibility they heard something unpleasant out there. This might be any number of things, some more evident than others.

Among the most prevalent causes of intense fear are:

  • Dogs barking
  • Lawnmowers
  • Construction sites and machinery
  • Fireworks or thunder?
  • Cars that backfire or have loud engines
  • Waste collection vehicles
  • Plow trucks for snow
  • Other animals or other canines barking dogs
  • Loud neighbors
  • Lawnmowers
  • Thunder, fireworks, and other unexpected noises

It just takes one encounter with loud noises for your dog to link going outside with anything undesirable. Sometimes pet parents might not even know which noise makes their dog scared to begin with.

same way positive associations

Fearful Dogs Have Bad Experiences Outside

Dogs may retain being afraid by loud noises for a long time, and they can also recall negative events. This might be anything from being bitten by an ant in the yard to meeting a vicious dog on a walk. This event draws the dog’s behavior to be uncooperative. Dogs may readily draw the link between a frightening experience and when/where it occurred.

If she’s afraid or if your dog feels reluctant or uncomfortable on walks, consider any unpleasant experiences they may have had. You may ask the previous owner to determine if another animal or human was involved in your dog’s fear. Once you know this you’ll obviously want to keep them away from the trigger.

A process called desensitization is also effective in treating this issue. We all know that not all dogs enjoy walking outside. If your dog no longer enjoys going for walks, begin cautiously with a walk around the block.

Many dogs will begin to perk up and settle down after only one stroll. Some senior dogs get tired easily while other dogs like those rescue dogs who have bad experiences before that trigger them to not to go out. Whatever their reasons maybe don’t give up and pay attention to your dog’s stress signs. Others may require more time.

Dog’s Fear Is Rooted From Improper Socialization

If your puppy or rescue dog is hesitant to go outside even for just one walk, it might be because they aren’t accustomed to viewing the world in a positive light. As a result, it might feel overpowering and frightening.

A dog should be introduced to the outside world before the age of 14 weeks. This covers various locations, people, and other canines.

Exposure to the outside world should be done gently to reassure the dog that there is nothing to be afraid of. Sessions should be brief and full of encouragement and optimism.

Puppies that do not receive this socialization may develop anxieties of being outside or certain components of it, such as humans or other dogs.

A dog may be socialized at any age. However, it can become much more difficult to accomplish if your dog is older and has formed an opinion about the world and its inhabitants. Teaching an older dog socialization might take time and care, but it is possible.

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Dog Afraid To Go Outside| Other Dogs Are New To Leash Walking

It’s possible that your rescue dog is frightened to go outside or doesn’t appear to enjoy walks with you since they aren’t used to it.

Dogs that aren’t leash trained may find it frightening at first if they have to learn about it later in life. They may have had negative experiences on a leash if a former owner tugged too hard on them, for example.

If your dog is new to leash walking or has a bad association with it, you may retrain them to make it a pleasurable experience for both of you.

Going gently is the best strategy. Begin with a stroll around the block and gradually increase your distance. You may even want to consider purchasing a harness to prevent your dog from choking or gasping for breath if they begin to pull.

Dogs Absolutely Terrified To New Location or New Community

Have you just relocated from a rural location to the city, and your dog now refuses to relieve himself outside? Is your new yard bigger or smaller than your old one? Were there any other dogs there before?

When you relocate with your dog, there are several issues to consider. It may take them some time to adjust to their new environment.

You could notice them battling with anxiety and uncertainty as they go. This might be due to how different the surroundings are from the prior residence. You probably know that new and strange noises might make your dog uncomfortable.

If another dog previously lived there, your dog may become frightened when they walk outside and scent the old canine. If there are other dogs next door or nearby, their dread may be exacerbated.

A new dog in the household might have the same impact on your pet. However, it may not be limited to simply going outside. Making the shift to a new home may be difficult for a dog, and they may appear to be terrified of everything.

Slowly introduce your dog to different sections of your new yard at their own pace and demonstrate that they are safe. After marking their territory a few times in that chosen outside area, your dog should begin to feel more at ease and at ‘home.’

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Dog Afraid To Go outside| Is Sick Or In Pain

If your dog is in discomfort, they may exhibit a range of signs. It might be as basic as overgrown toenails at times. Alternatively, they may have a problem with their paw that makes it difficult for them to walk.

They might possibly be suffering from a serious internal health problem like an upset stomach. Fortunately, there are frequently additional symptoms that accompany health concerns. If your dog appears sluggish and isn’t eating or drinking, take them to the vet to be checked out.

They may also be afraid to go outside since something happened to them when they were out. Perhaps they were bitten by an insect or another animal, or they walked on a stick, thorns, or anything similar.

Again, the best thing to do in this situation is to gradually and calmly reintroduce them to going outdoors to demonstrate to them it’s a safe environment.

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Dog Afraid To Go Outside| The Adult Dog

Some dogs love to go out however senior dogs might experience mental and physical changes as they age. A dog you’ve kept for years may suddenly become afraid of going outside.

Older dogs may have a more difficult time adjusting to new environments and situations. So, if you’ve just relocated or modified something in the yard, keep that in mind while determining what’s scaring them.

Senior dogs may be scared of going outside when they associate something bad with being outside. If they were harmed or startled by another animal, an older dog may find it more difficult to overcome that fear than a younger dog.

Fear might be prompted by one of the ‘normal’ aging concerns. Many older dogs experience vision issues. Blurred or impaired vision might make individuals uneasy, especially when they are outside. Some canines may acquire a condition known as canine cognitive impairment.

This is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in people. It might be rather frightening if your dog isn’t entirely capable of understanding or remembering what’s going on around them!

As veterinary advice, dogs over the age of seven should visit their veterinarian for an annual wellness assessment. This allows you to remain on top of any health changes in your senior dog and assist them in receiving care if necessary.

dog scared loud noises

Dog Afraid To Go Outside| In-Home Factors

Consider what your routine includes for letting your dog out. It’s possible that your dog is afraid of the routine itself. It’s all about association once more.

Do you have a slippery floor leading up to your front door? Is your dog prone to slipping on them? It might be the slippery floors and not being outside that they are terrified of. Is your dog afraid of walking up the stairs?

If your dog has ever been wounded, heard a loud noise outside your front door, or had a terrible experience during your ‘going outside’ routine, the problem might be the habit itself. Dogs feel unsafe moving in a place where they had an experience of getting hurt.

Change things up or introduce a new regimen. It would also be beneficial if you could take them outdoors without passing your front door or through a different door.

Fortunately, this is one of the easiest anxieties to overcome since you should be able to separate the habit from the anxiety by changing a few simple things.

Dog Afraid To Go Outside| Electric Barrier

Electric fences are popular choices for folks who wish to let their dog run free in the yard yet keep them inside certain boundaries.

They function by shocking a special collar around your dog’s neck anytime he or she crosses the invisible fence. As a result, they learn to avoid going beyond a certain point in the yard.

Electric fences can be beneficial, but they can also be painful for certain dogs. If your dog associates going outdoors with getting shocked, they may come to fear every inch of the yard, not just the forbidden sections.

Different dogs will react differently to this form of training. If you discover that your dog afraid to go outside the house or wander around the yard, an electric fence or a shock collar may not be the best option to keep them where you want them.

In any case, letting your dog out during a storm is not a smart idea. However, if they were out when a thunderclap went overhead, it may be enough to make them scared of being outside.

In this case, the best thing to do is to be patient and gradually reintroduce them to going outdoors when it’s peaceful and sunny.

dog afraid to go outside dog park

Dog Afraid To Go Outside| Thunderstorms

When your dog is indoors, he or she may appear completely at ease with a passing storm. However, if they’ve ever gone outside during a thunderstorm or simply in the rain, they may have a bad connection with the outdoors.

The sight and sound of lightning and thunder might startle and overstimulate your dog, and might trigger your dog to get scared of going outside.

Most dogs dislike the sensation of rain falling on them. While it may be little more than an inconvenience for humans, it may be rather frightening for dogs, especially when combined with other stimuli.

Dog Afraid To Go Outside| The New Puppy Blues

Puppies enjoy moving around and getting excited about their walks. However, once you attach a leash, your pup may not appreciate being restrained in this manner. If your puppy dislikes the addition of this new gadget to its life, it may refuse to go for walks.

Not to worry. Going slowly is totally fine. Sometimes it is the best way to help a dog learn something new in your pup’s life. Try out a new leash on your dog at home for a few days at a time. Do this for several days, for a limited amount of time each day. By the time you’re ready to start taking your dog for leash walks, and your dog feels used to the idea.

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Dog Afraid To Go Outside| Depression

Humans suffer from depression quite severely. However, depression can be found in dogs as well. If your sad puppy is depressed, it will no longer want to play or go out. In depression, dogs become so withdrawn that they lose sleep and appetite.

It is difficult to pinpoint the cause of depression. However, if you notice that your dog has become withdrawn and has stopped participating in all of its usual activities, it’s time to take it to the vet.

Furthermore, depression in dogs is frequently associated with isolation. If your dog feels lonely and is frequently left alone for long periods of time, you should consider changing your routine. Your puppy is in need of your love and attention. Your attention and time can help your sick dog recover.

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Things to Avoid When Your Dog Refuses to Go Outside

Most dog’s fears may be alleviated with basic retraining. Helping dogs overcome their fear, means you must approach retraining in the proper manner. In most circumstances, patience and time are require

Don’t Push Them:

One of the most common mistakes pet parents make is attempting to pull their dog outside on a leash or even carry them outside. Thinking dog overcomes such fears right away.

You may be able to get the dog out, but you risk making your dog’s fear intensify and grow. the situation is much more painful for them. It may lead your dog to panic, in which case they will not learn anything to help them overcome their anxiety.

Please Do Not Penalize Them:

Never reprimand your dog for being afraid to go outside. Many dogs are unlikely to identify the penalty with the action in the first place. And that it may make your dogs feel more terrified because of it.

Don’t ‘Flood’ Them:

As humans, we are frequently urged to ‘face our fears.’ This is referred to as flooding. You should never expose your dog to something he or she is terrified of outside. Most of the time, dogs do not overcome their anxieties when confronted with them. Instead, slowly introduce the process they need to know. Most dogs follow and cooperate if they feel they are not pressured by their pet parents to go outside.

Helpful Tips to Overcome their Fear of Going out

same way slippery floor

A Vet Consultation

Assume you have a dog who enjoys playing and going for walks but suddenly refuses to go for walks. And the strange behavior continues. If you notice your pet isn’t sleeping well or eating properly, don’t put it off any longer. It’s time to take the dog to the vet.

You see, you want to be on the safe side and have your dog checked for any medical issues. If your dog is given a clean bill of health, you can rest easy knowing that he or she just needs to work on his or her attitude.

Determine Your Dog’s Triggers

If your dog is afraid of going outside, one of the most helpful things you can do is figure out what her triggers are so you can help her gradually feel less afraid of them. It can be more difficult to help her improve her feelings about going outside if you don’t know what she’s afraid of.

Pay close attention to how your dog reacts when she sees and hears different things, and she will most likely tell you exactly what is frightening her.

Constructive Exercise And A Healthy Diet

Yes, walks are necessary. However, you must understand that the goal of exercise is to channel all of that extra energy into healthfulness. However, if your dog is afraid of going outside, don’t force it. Your dog should feel relaxed and refreshed after walks, not traumatized.

So you’re wondering what you should do to provide constructive outlets for your pet’s energy. You can, however, provide your dogs with indoor games. There are many great interactive toys on the market that will keep your pet entertained. If you have a backyard and your dog feels safe there, that’s where you should play with him.

The more time, love, and attention you give your pet, the happier he or she will be. It is said that dogs recover from trauma faster when they have their owner’s undivided attention.

absolutely terrified overgrown toenails

Baby Steps Have Healing Power

As previously stated, do not force your dog to go outside if it feels threatened. It’s known as flooding. And you aggravate your pet’s distress. The goal is to desensitize your dogs to any stimuli that frightened them. So, every day, give your dog a snack and try to get closer to the door. Every day, you’ll have to take a step forward.

It’s a long process, but every day your dog will feel more at ease knowing you’re there for him. You will eventually notice that your dog will approach the front door or beyond without fear.

Always Do Your Homework Before Making A Purchase.

When it comes to animals, you should always do your research before introducing anything new to your pet. It’s a rule that applies to everything concerning your fluff ball’s health. The diet, training, vet, and equipment you use for your dog are all things you should be aware of before using it on your pet.

So, if you want to try out a new leash, a new brand of chewable treats, or even toys, ask a dog-loving friend, the vet, or do as much research as you can. That way, your puppy will not suffer any negative consequences from using something intended for it.

Keep Outdoor Excursions Brief And Enjoyable.

Making a row of reward stations with paper plates (which make the treats more visible) to help her move toward and out the door on her own is an invaluable way to gently encourage your dog to move toward something that frightens her (like the front door).

This can help your dog become more relaxed when walking up to and through the door, allowing her to be less stressed when she gets outside.

upset stomach feeding station

Practice walking calmly and focused toward the open door, through the door, turning around, and walking back inside a few times before attempting to walk further away.

Start feeding her treats from your hand rather than her picking them up off the ground as she gets better at exiting the house, and gradually increase the distance she has to walk to receive each treat.

If your dog is afraid of the backyard, feeding her meals there by gradually moving her bowl out the door and into the yard (between meals don’t move her bowl while she eats) is a great way to add positive feelings to that space.

Try New Techniques or New Solutions

Don’t overlook simple techniques for overcoming your dog’s anxieties! Sometimes the most straightforward solutions are the best.

For example, if your dog is afraid of stepping over your slick floor to go outside via the door, add a carpet runner to make her journey simpler, or outfit her with some hardwood floor socks. Alternatively, simply exit through a separate door.

If there are a lot of steps, try to assist your dog gain confidence by placing goodies on some of the stairs or carrying her part of the way (this is one of the only situations in which carrying a scared pooch a little is OK). Then, place her on the stairs so she may try going up and down the last few steps on her own.

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Desensitization is the inverse of flooding in terms of behavioral therapy. Instead of forcing the dog to confront his or her fears, which is traumatic. The dog should be gradually expose to keep anxiety and fear below the fear threshold. The threshold is an invisible line that separates fearful reactions from non-fearful reactions or, at the very least, reactions in which the dog is more in control.

Distance is frequently what makes the difference. As a result, if the dog is carried outside and placed in the middle of the yard, he will almost certainly be over the threshold, causing him to panic. Whereas if the dog is placed in front of the open door leading to the yard, he will feel more relaxed and will be under the threshold.

new dog scary noise

Gradually Exposed Your Dog To The Noise

The dog is gradually expose to the yard and its noises through a desensitization process. This procedure takes some time, and great care must be taken to ensure that the dog stays below his threshold level.

Dog owners must be able to recognize early signs of stress in order to avoid asking for too much at once. If the dog is exposed to too many intense stimuli, he may become increasingly sensitive to his fear. So, for example, you would avoid practicing desensitization if your neighbor was outside with a chainsaw.


While desensitization is an effective behavior modification program on its own, combining it with counter-conditioning doubles its effectiveness. Counter-conditioning is the process of altering a dog’s physical and emotional response to a specific stimulus. 

We are flipping the dog’s emotional response and attitude toward the outdoors by using counterconditioning. In other words, we want to replace negative associations with positive ones. So, instead of yard = fear, we want yard = fun! No need to be concerned; dogs do not require a math degree to comprehend this equation!

Be Patient and Effective Canine Advocate

When trying to improve your dog’s confidence in the outdoors and give her with an evacuation strategy, always take your time. If your dog can only confidently go to the end of your driveway and back, don’t urge her to walk any more than that.

You should never put your dog in a position where she is not at ease. Patience and encouragement for tiny accomplishments are the most effective ways to achieve achievement!

Take some delicious goodies and encourage her to stroll a bit further down the sidewalk each day until she feels comfortable walking in unfamiliar areas. Just make sure her walking gear is escape-proof so she doesn’t flee in a panic.

If your dog is becoming more courageous around her stressors, reward her bravery, pay attention to her stress signs, and be her champion.

dogs process called desensitization

Advocate On Behalf Of Your Dog

Above all, be sure you can assist her in leaving a situation if she becomes overwhelmed.

You may never know what happened outside that terrified your pet so much. However, if you can identify her triggers and then gently and pleasantly reintroduce her to the things that terrify her, while also assisting her in having other outside experiences that are enjoyable and not scary at all, you’ll be well on your way to helping your pup overcome her outdoor concerns.

Different Exercises Pet owners May Practice With Their Dog

Exercise 1 and 2:

Love Outdoor Noises!

Determine what makes your dog afraid. If you know your dog runs for cover when he hears a noise, try to imitate it. It would be prudent to record the noise and then play it back at a low volume (desensitization).

Incorporate some counter-conditioning. To make this process more efficient, try feeding your dog while the recording is playing or providing tasty treats every time you press the “play” button and the recording begins (counterconditioning). Do this until your dog starts looking at you for a treat as soon as it hears the noise recording.

Increase the rate of desensitization and counterconditioning. Open the yard door and repeat the exercise, but instead of using the recording as a prompt for treats, use the actual noises.

Keep your dog inside with you at first. Toss a treat as soon as you hear a noise. You can even put the noise on cue after a while by saying something like “good noise!” The noises will eventually become a friendly reminder to get a treat, and the dog will become desensitized.

Create a Feeding Station

  • To make the outdoors less intimidating, place the food bowl near the door and gradually move it outside.
  • Feed a few feet away from the door, but with the door open this time.
  • Feed closer to the door while it is open. As your dog adjusts, move the bowl closer.
  • Feed your dog while the food bowl is facing the outside but he is still inside.
  • Extend the bowl’s reach outside gradually.

other animals food motivated

Exercise 3 to 5:

Treat Trail

Leave the door open and create a treat trail that leads outside; the end of the trail should contain increasingly high-value treats and conclude with a pile of treats or a valuable bone or pig ear. Do this on a regular basis, and when your dog is outside, make sure he sees a slew of toys scattered around the yard.

It’s Playtime Outside!

If your dog enjoys playing, scatter a variety of toys on the lawn and entice him outside with squeaking toys or bouncing balls. If your dog is shy, sit on the lawn and use an irresistible toy to call him in a happy voice.

Tie it to a string and move it erratically like prey if that helps. If your dog comes outside, lavishly praise him, have a fun, upbeat play session, and then invite him back inside.

Make the day boring once you’re inside. In other words, make sure your dog understands that all the fun is outside and that nothing really exciting happens inside. Allow your fearful dog to see how much fun he is missing if you have another dog.

Use Clicker Training In

Create a target to click-treat and gradually move the target outside. Give out prizes when the dog goes outside.

To the best of the author’s knowledge, this article is accurate and true. This is not to replace a veterinary medical professional’s diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice. Veterinarian should see animals displaying distress symptoms as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Afraid to Go Outside

suddenly scared other animals

Question 1

She is not afraid of anything outside, except for the noisy apartment complex. She is OK if she understands it is a vehicle journey; she is okay with my mother’s dog or a friend’s children with us. But even if she only needs to pee, she refuses to step into the corridor.

She is normally OK once in the hallway and wanders downstairs and outside to potty. How can you get her out the door without having to pull her?

Answer: You should not pull her since pulling dogs forces them to confront their concerns in an ineffective manner, which leads to her using the brakes more frequently.

Instead, I’d attempt to develop methods for her to stroll by on her own through pleasant connections. For example, you may try chatting to her in an enthusiastic tone of voice while dropping high-value goodies near the place she is hesitant to walk.

Question 2

Since the dog afraid to go outside, what can we do to help him when he needs to go to the bathroom? He doesn’t hold his waste for many days while we try to teach him to go out again. We let him use the bathroom by getting him going inside.

There is no doubt that these are tough situations. When this happens, temporarily put pee pads near the door so the dog can learn to use them. Then, as the dog gets more confident and goes outside more and more, slowly wean them off the pads and praise and reward them with high-value treats for going outside.

Since the pee pads are close to the door, the dog will find it easier to learn to go outside to use the bathroom. This should make it easier to train the dog to use the bathroom outside. We can’t let the dog hold it if the fear is so bad that the person can’t go outside.

Question 3:

Why Should You Treat Dogs afraid to go outside?

According to Coren, a certified dog trainer consoling a dog afraid to go outside actually makes the pet more likely to be fearful the following time. Many canine behaviorists and veterinarians recommend that you should not acknowledge your dog’s fear in any manner. “Trying to soothe your dog when she’s anxious may reinforce her fearful behavior,” the Humane Society of Greater Miami warns. So to help your dog overcome 

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