Fearful Fido: 13 Tips For When Your Dog is Anxious on Walks

Anxiety and fear are detrimental to your furry companion’s quality of life. If your , if your puppy is scared to go outside, or if your dog is afraid to go for a walk at all, it can be physically and emotionally taxing for both of you. 

Anxiety is caused by many things, some of which include lack of socialization, separation, aging, or genetic predisposition. If your pet is afraid, it can impact many aspects of their day-to-day needs, including exercise during those important daily walks. 

The team at Union Lake Pet Services addresses pet anxiety and what you can do if

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Symptoms of Anxiety

When your dog is prone to anxiety, you may notice behaviors that accompany the anxiety. Anxious dogs can be reactive, meaning that they are unpredictable around other pets and people, or in situations that lead them to fear. Reactive pets generally suffer from anxiety. 

Pets with anxiety display one or more of these symptoms:

  • Aggression 
  • Separation fears
  • Urinating or defecating in the home
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Destructive behavior like chewing
  • Excessive barking or whining
  • Shivering and shaking
  • Depression

These symptoms can reduce your pet’s quality of life and impact their overall health. The good news is that there are soothing techniques, medications, behavior modification, and other treatments that can alleviate anxiety in pets. Contact us if you’d like a behavioral consultation. 

Your Dog is Anxious on Walks: Triggers Vary by Dog

If you’ve ever experienced strong anxiety, you know it can be irrational and overwhelming. You can empathize with what your dog is feeling. Ignoring it doesn’t work. Some trainers advise an anxious dog to walk. We don’t agree with trying to force a dog to do what they fear. We believe in helping dogs overcome their fears with positive means. 

One question to ask–can you tell what triggers your dog’s fear? Is your dog anxious around other dogs? Is your dog afraid to walk on a leash? Are they frightened of people or loud noises? Maybe your dog is scared to go outside at all. Understanding what triggers your dog’s fear can help you in overcoming their anxiety. 

13 Tips for Walking an Anxious Dog

All dogs need exercise to relieve stress, maintain health, and prevent obesity. There are some key elements in reducing your dog’s stress in order to have a happy, safe walk with them.

  1. First, know your pet’s fear triggers. If your pet fears strangers, then walk somewhere that is private or without a lot of traffic or people. If they fear other animals, avoid busy parks or dog parks.
  2. Keep your pet close to you, crossing the street if people or animals that would trigger anxiety start to approach.
  3. If you can’t avoid passing people or other pets, you can give them a wide berth when passing.
  4. Routine is comforting to dogs. Choose a route that avoids their triggers as much as possible, then walk the same route every time. 
  5. Keep walks brief at first. Until your dog feels more comfortable, don’t overstress him.
  6. Treats are a great distraction, so buy some small treats for positive reinforcement. Choose something that your dog loves since fear can reduce interest in eating. 
  7. Choose lickable food like peanut butter in a tube or cream cheese since licking is soothing to dogs. The idea is to associate positive, happy feelings about eating a favorite food with walking, and it helps as a distraction. 
  8. Make sure they are on a sturdy leash or harness, with current identification tags (and make sure your dog is microchipped). Some anxious dogs will try to slip their leash.
  9. If possible, exercise your dog at home before you go, so they are a little tired when outside. This can help take the edge off of their anxiety.
  10. Unless your dog is anxious around other dogs, invite your friends’ dogs to go with you, since walking in a “pack” can help reduce your dog’s fears.
  11. You may want to try products like Thundershirt, flower essences like lavender or chamomile, Adaptil products, and Rescue Remedy which have calming properties. 
  12. Work with a professional trainer to learn techniques for a positive association with former fears or training a frightened dog to walk on a leash.  
  13. Work with an animal behaviorist to help your dog reduce anxiety and gain confidence.

Your dog won’t overcome his or her anxiety overnight, but they will bloom as they gain confidence and become less afraid of their walks. And if your dog isn’t ready for a walk yet, don’t feel bad. It’s okay to exercise and provide enrichment in the home and your own yard. 

If your pet has extreme anxiety, is too anxious for dog walks, or you just could use our help, contact us to sign up for a Quirky K9s training class, private training for anxious dogs, or schedule a behavior consultation. We’re here to help! 

— Update: 11-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Dog Scared To Go Outside? Discover Why And Help Your Pet! from the website regaldogproducts.com for the keyword why is my dog afraid to go outside.

Do you have a dog scared to go outside? If so, you’re not alone. Many dogs become fearful of going outside for a variety of reasons. In this blog post, we will discuss the most common reasons why dogs are scared to go outside and what you can do to help your pet feel more comfortable. We’ll also provide tips on how to make your yard more dog-friendly!

Why You Should Recognize Your Dogs Fear To Go Outside

Recognizing your dog’s fear is crucial and how you can help them feel more comfortable. Your dog’s anxiety may show up in basic ways, like when he or she refuses to walk or pulls hard on the leash to get back inside the house.

But a dog in trouble or a rescue dog might show his fear in more indirect ways, like kneeling down and strolling low to the ground, preserving the tail tucked, panting even when it’s not hot or active, yawning a lot, or shaking. Forcing pets with these kinds of stress signs to “face their fears” will only make the problem worse, so punishment and intimidation have no place in the rehabilitation process.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

What Causes Dog’s Fear To Go Outside?

There are many reasons why a dog might be scared to go outside. If you think your dog falls into one of these categories, there are things and products that can help them overcome their fear. With patience and proper behavior modification, you can help your dog enjoy the great outdoors!

They Were Never Properly Introduced To The Outdoors:

If a dog has never been exposed to the great outdoors, it’s no wonder they may be scared of it! It’s important to slowly introduce your dog to the outside world in a positive way. Start by taking them on short walks around the block and gradually increase the length and difficulty of the walks as they become more comfortable.

New Puppy Panic:

Many puppies are absolutely terrified of going outside because they are still getting used to their new surroundings.

When a pet moved to a different home with new family member. She becomes uncomfortable and are scared of what is going outside because of some adjustments such as slippery floor, noise, other dogs in the community. This can make the puppy afraid of almost everything, even the outside areas near her new home.

There are also times called “puppy socialization periods” that last until the puppy is 14 weeks old. If somehow the puppy doesn’t have wonderful experiences in new outdoor places before then, she may always be more scared or uneasy about the sounds and smells of outdoor places as an adult. During their fear periods, puppies may also be exposed to traumatic events outside, which could change how they feel about the outdoors.

It can be helpful to socialize your puppy as much as possible by taking them to dog parks, dog-friendly stores, and on walks around the neighborhood. With time and patience, they will become more comfortable with their new home and routine.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

Bad Experience:

Fearful dogs with bad experience while outdoors (e.g., a rescue dog from being chased by a car or getting into a fight with another animal), it’s understandable that they would be fearful of going outside again. In these cases, you’ll need to help your dog gradually overcome their fear by training.

This means rewarding them for good behavior when they are outdoors (e.g., walking calmly on a leash or staying relaxed in the yard) and ignoring them when they are exhibiting fearful behavior (e.g., cowering, shaking, or hiding).

Inadequate or Improper Socialization:

There are many reasons why your dogs scared to go outside.

Dog’s fear may come from not having enough socialization when they are a puppy. It grow up to be afraid of going for walks. Before they are 14 weeks old, puppies need to be gently introduced to new things, places, and people in short, positive sessions. This helps them see the world as a friendly place. Those who don’t get this kind of experience are more likely to be overwhelmed by new things.

According to certified dog trainer, the most important thing you can do is to helping dogs overcome this fear by letting them feel comfortable and safe in their environment. With patience, you can help your dog overcome their fear and enjoy the great outdoors!

Never Walked On A Leash:

Some get scared when they have to wear a collar or leash, so it’s important to teach your dog how to walk on a leash.

Some people may feel anxious because they don’t know how to use this kind of walking equipment. This might be because your dog hasn’t spent much time on a leash, either because she is a young puppy who has never worn a collar and leash before or because she is an adult dog who has never or rarely been walked on a leash in the past.

In either case, it can be strenuous to use new gear.

Your dog may also dislike her leash or collar if anybody mistreated her while she was on a leash and she couldn’t get away or if she had been given harsh corrections with the leash.

Electric Fenced Yard Phobia:

Since the dog’s receiver collar on dog’s neck often sends a static shock when the dog gets too close to or crosses the fence line, some will be afraid to go outside because they think the collar will shock them.

Most wireless radio fences have a training mode that makes the collar beep or vibrate only when your dog gets close to or crosses the boundary. However this can still bring intense fear to your pet

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

Sensitivity To Sound:

Loud noises can scare them, especially if they’re not used to them. Dogs with this fear may tremble, hide, or try to get away from the noise.

Common sounds that might scare a dog include thunderstorms, fireworks, and gun shots.

If your dog is afraid of loud noises, you can help by desensitizing them to the sound. Start by playing the noise at a very low volume while your dog is doing something they enjoy, like eating a treat or playing with a toy.

Every time they hear the noise, they should get something positive in return so that they associate the noise with something good.

Eventually, you can increase the volume of the noise until your dog is no longer afraid.

Some Scary Noise That Can Frighten Dogs And Set Them Off Are:

Barking dogs


Construction sites and equipment

Lightning or thunder

Cars engines that backfire or are loud

Garbage trucks

Snow plow trucks

Injuries And Medical Issues

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

Not all dogs are healthy to go out. Pain in the paws or legs could make a dog hate going outside. These problems can be caused by something as simple as overgrown toenails or a cut on her paw, but they can also be caused by long-term problems that need treatment, like arthritis.

There are other things that could make your female dog less likely to go outside. For example, if your dog has an internal health problem, it might feel tired or sick in general. If your dog has a vision problem, it might be afraid to go outside, especially when it’s dark.

Changes seem to scare older dogs more easily and make them remember their fear longer than they do younger dogs. They can also get diseases like doggie dementia or “sunowners syndrome,” which can make them act strangely even when they are in familiar places.

Senior Dog

As they get older, their bodies and minds can change in different ways. A dog you’ve had for years may all of a sudden be afraid to go outside.

Older dogs are having a hard time getting used to new places and people. So, if you’re trying to figure out what’s scaring them, think about what you’ve moved or changed recently in the yard.

Senior dogs are also more likely to feel anxious if they associate being outside with something bad. If they were hurt or scared by another animal, it might be harder for an older dog to get over that fear than it would be for a younger dog.

Fear could be caused by one of the “normal” things that happen as people age. Many senior dogs develop eye problems. When they are outside, their anxiety can get worse if they can’t see well or if their vision is blurry. Even something called “canine cognitive dysfunction” can happen to some dogs.

This is a lot like what happens to people with Alzheimer’s. As you might expect, it can be scary for your dog if it can’t fully understand or remember what’s going on around it.

Veterinarians should check their health over the age of seven every year. By doing this, you can keep track of any changes in your senior dog’s health and help them get medical care if they need it.

How Can You Tell Your Dog Is Afraid To Go Outside

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

We can’t just ask a dog what’s wrong, so it’s important to pay attention to your pet’s stress signals and figure out what makes her upset. This will help you figure out when your dog is scared, so you can eventually desensitize and counter-train her to feel safe around things that scare her.

Dogs usually show us through their body language when they are scared. Some of the ways dogs often show fear are:

  • panting
  • enlarged eyes
  • whale lip licks eye
  • glancing away
  • freezing
  • pacing drooling trembling
  • depression
  • using the toilet to pee or poop
  • pinched ears
  • barking or whining too much
  • not wanting to walk and staying still (pancaking)
  • suddenly stopping in the middle of a walk and refusing to move
  • pulling hard on the leash, maybe in the direction of home Aggression or reactivity
  • crouching
  • tail tucked

How To Help Your Dog

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

Identify Your Dog’s Triggers 

If your dog doesn’t like going outside, one of the best things you can do is figure out what makes her scared so you can help her get used to them.

If you don’t know what she’s afraid of, it’s harder to help her feel better about going outside.

So, pay close attention to how your dog acts when she sees and hears different things. Watch her body language, and she will probably tell you what is scaring her.

Your Dog Needs To Be Desensitized And Counter-conditioned.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

You can help your dog feel better about her triggers by using desensitization and counter-conditioning. Since a dog can’t both like and be afraid of something, adding positive feelings to your dog’s triggers may be all that’s needed to help her get over her fears.

Your dog might not get better after just one day of using these techniques, but the work is well worth it because the changes in how your dog feels about her triggers will last.

Over time, your dog’s behavior and how he or she reacts to the trigger should change. Using training methods that involve positive reinforcement is also a great way to build your dog’s relationship with you and trust in you.

Desensitizing Your Dog To Outdoor Triggers

Dogs are wonderful companions, and most of them love spending time outdoors. However, some dogs can become anxious or stressed in new environments. If your dog is uncomfortable outside, there are a few things you can do to help them feel more confident.

First, start by slowly introducing them to the outdoors. If they seem nervous, try carrying them or holding their leash while you walk around the block. You can also help desensitize them to common outdoor triggers by playing recordings of common sounds, such as traffic or birds chirping. With a little patience and some positive reinforcement, you can help your furry friend enjoy the great outdoors.

Dogs can also pick up on our fears, so if you act like nothing strange is going on, it may help calm your dog down, too.

Over time, playing the recording of the storm louder and longer can help your dog get used to what was once a very scary sound

Read more  How Long Does It Take For CBD To Work On Dogs?

How To Stop Your Dog from Responding To Triggers

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

Counter-conditioning is another way to change how your dog reacts to scary things. Instead of just getting your dog used to a trigger, pairing it with treats will help your dog feel good about the trigger.

If your dog can’t handle hearing the storm recording without getting upset or scared, playing it softly while your dog eats can help. If her food isn’t enough to keep her attention, giving her lots of small, very tasty treats while the recording plays for a short time is even more effective for most dogs.

Once your dog seems less scared of the trigger, you can slowly increase its volume and length while continuing to pair it with good things, like treats, stuffed Kongs, or even playtime.

Counter-conditions Before Going Outside

If your dog is scared of going outside, anything you do right before you try to take her outside can also make her nervous. In this case, you might want to try to help your dog feel better about getting ready to go outside apart from the things that make her want to go outside.

Change the order of any pre-walk actions (like walking toward your dog’s leash, picking it up, putting it on your dog, or putting on your shoes) to help your dog see them as fun and positive.

As you get ready to take your dog out, look for common signs of stress in her body language. This will help you figure out what you are doing that is making her nervous. Then, try to randomly pair each of these things with a treat a few times a day without taking the dog outside.

Trips Outside Should Be Short And Fun.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

One of the best ways to help them be more confident outside is to keep outdoor excursions brief and positive. Dogs are naturally curious creatures, and they’re often most comfortable in familiar surroundings.

Going for a long walk or hike in unfamiliar territory can be overwhelming and may cause your dog to feel anxious or stressed. However, shorter excursions in familiar areas can help your dog feel more confident and relaxed.

Plus, if you make sure to keep things positive by offering treats and praise, your dog will associate going outside with happy experiences. As a result, he’ll be much more likely to want to go on future outings.

Make a treat trail or a row of reward stations with plastic plates (that further make the treats more visible) to help your dog keep moving forward into and out the door on her own. This is a great way to get your dog to move toward something that scares her, like the front door.

This can make it easier for your dog to walk up to and through the door, making her less anxious when she gets outside.

Make Your Dog Exercise Before Going Out

Have you ever noticed that some dogs seem to be totally confident when they’re outside, while others seem apprehensive and even scared? It turns out that there’s a reason for this.

Dogs who have a lot of positive experiences with different types of environments are more likely to be confident when they’re outside.

On the other hand, dogs who haven’t had much exposure to the great outdoors or who have had negative experiences outdoors are more likely to be scared of new environments.

So, how can you help your dog feel more confident about going outside? One way is to make sure that you exercise them at home before you go outside. This will help them burn off any excess energy and also help them get used to the idea of being in new surroundings.

Once they’ve had a chance to calmly explore their own yard, you can take them for a walk around the block. If they’re still feeling nervous, try carrying them or using a harness and leash. With time and patience, you can help your dog overcome their fears and enjoy spending time outdoors.

Keep Triggers Away From Them

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

When it comes to keeping your dogs feeling confident about going outside, one of the best things you can do is to keep triggers away from them. This means anything that might make them feel scared or anxious, like other animals or people.

If you live in a busy area, try taking your dog for walks at off-peak times. Also, avoid particular places that tend to set your dog off (like the dog park).

It might take a little extra effort on your part, but by keeping triggers away from your dogs, you’ll help them feel more confident about going outside – and that’s certainly worth it.

Stay Close With Your Dog When Going Out

Have you ever noticed that your dog seems to be more confident when you’re around? It’s not just in your head – studies have shown that dogs are more likely to approach and interact with people and other dogs when their owner is present.

This is because dogs form strong bonds with their owners, and they feel safe and secure when we’re close by. When going out on walks, try keeping your dog close to you at first.

This will help them feel more confident in new environments, and they’ll be more likely to approach other dogs and people. Over time, you can start giving them more freedom to explore, but always be sure to stay close enough that they can come back to you if they need reassurance.

With a little patience and lots of love, you can help your dog build the confidence they need to enjoy a happy and fulfilling life.

Choose A Route That Avoids Their Triggers And Doing This Everyday

Have you ever noticed that dogs sometimes seem hesitant or even scared to go outside? This is because they are picking up on our cues. If we are anxious about something, they will sense that and it will make them feel anxious too. The same is true for if we are feeling confident.

When we are calm and relaxed, they will be too. So, what does this have to do with choosing a route? Avoid certain triggers that make your dog anxious – like loud noises or lots of people.

And the more you do this, the more confident they will feel going outside in general. So next time you take your dog for a walk, try to choose a route that avoids their triggers and see how much more confident they are!

Leash Walking

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

One of the best things you can do to help your dog feel more confident is to practice leash manners. This includes walking calmly on a leash, sit and stay while you’re talking to someone, and not to pull or lunge at other dog or people.

This will help your dog feel more confident and relaxed when outside. Also, it will make walks and trips to the park more enjoyable for both of you. And as an added bonus, well-behaved dogs are often welcome in more places than those that aren’t, so practicing leash manners can help expand your dog’s horizons.

If you are looking for a leash, I highly recommend the Regal dog. It has a comfortable grip for you and is made of high-quality materials that won’t break easily.

Invite Your Friends Dogs When Walking With Our Dog Outside

Unless your dog is anxious around other dogs, invite your friends’ dogs to go with you. Walking in a “pack” can help reduce your dog’s fears. A dog’s natural instinct is to protect its pack, so being with other dogs will help your dog feel more secure.

This is especially helpful if you have a small dog that might feel intimidated by larger dogs. Walking in a group can also be a great way to socialize your dog and help them make new friends.

Look For Simple Solution To Solve Your Dogs Problem

The best choice isn’t always the most complicated one.

If your dog is afraid to walk across your slick floor then place a non-slip mat near the door. This will help her feel more confident and make it easier for her to get outside.

If your dog is scared of loud noises, then use a sound machine or white noise app to help drown out the scary sounds. This will make her feel more at ease.

If there are a lot of stairs, help your dog feel more comfortable by putting treats on some of them. Then put her down on the stairs so she can practice going up or down the last few stairs on her own.

Work With Professional Trainer

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

Dogs are social creatures, and most of them enjoy going for walks and spending time outside. However, some dogs can be hesitant or even scared to leave the safety of their home. This is often due to a lack of socialization or exposure to different environments.

Fortunately, working with a professional trainer can help dogs feel more confident outside. Trainers can help dogs get used to being around people and other animals, as well as new sights and sounds.

Dogs who work with trainers are less likely to be scared or hesitant when out in the world. So if you want your dog to enjoy all the benefits of a life spent outdoors, consider working with a professional trainer. It could make all the difference in your dog’s confidence level.

Work With An Animal Behaviorist

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

Have you ever seen a dog cowering under a table or behind a couch when someone comes to the door? Or maybe your own dog is afraid of going outside, and you’re not sure why. If your dog is displaying signs of anxiety or fear, it may be time to consult with an animal behaviorist. Working with a behaviorist can help your dog feel more confident and secure in all kinds of situations, including going outside.

A behaviorist will help you understand your dog’s specific fears and needs and develop a plan to address them. This may include help with socialization, desensitization to certain stimuli, and obedience training. With the help of a behaviorist, you can help your dog feel more confident and secure!

Be Your Dog Advocate

One of the best things you can do to help your dog feel more confident is to be a good advocate for them. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, help them by slowly acclimating them to the noise.

Start by playing recordings of the noise at a low volume, and increase the volume gradually over time. Stay with them in new environments until they feel comfortable.

Be their advocate by letting people know that your dog is still getting used to the surroundings and needs some time to adjust. By being patient and helping your dog feel secure, you can help them feel more confident in new situations.

Veterinary Advice: What To Do And What Not To Do

Why is my dog afraid to go outside


  • Slow down and let your dog get closer to her triggers at her own speed. Use lots of cool treats to show her how proud you are for being brave. This will also help her feel better about her triggers.
  • Have short excursions and gradually increase the length of time you’re gone. This will help your dog get used to being away from home and help build their confidence.
  • If your dog is scared of going outside. Provide plenty of dog love when your dog is behaving well outside. This could include treats, petting, or verbal praise. Finally, avoid forcing your dog to do anything they’re uncomfortable with.
  • If they’re hesitant to approach other people, respect their wishes and give them some space. By following these simple tips, you can help your dog enjoy their time outside and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed or afraid.
  • If your dog is likely to run away, make sure she wears a harness or other item. Use two pieces of equipment, like a martingale collar and a front-clip harness, just in case she gets out of one of them.
  • To get used to going in and out of the door, make a treat trail. As she moves around with less fear and stress, you can give her treats farther apart.
  • Gradually move your dog’s food outside. This is great for pets that are afraid of the backyard.
  • Put some of your dog’s favorite toys or treats outside for it to find. This is a great way to use nose work games to keep your dog’s mind busy and get her to check out a scary place.
  • Play a game you like with your dog outside. Dogs love doing something she enjoys. She will start to have positive associations or good feelings with the environment, which can help lessen her separation anxiety.
  • When your dog gets suddenly afraid or triggered you should desensitize and counter-condition him. By making your dog feel better about things that scare her, you’ll help her become more brave over time.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside


  • Do not try to push, pull, or drag your dog closer to her triggers. Do not use hot treats or food as a way to show your dog how proud you are. This will make her feel more anxious. If your dog is displaying signs of anxiety or stress, it’s best to consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist.
  • If your dog acts scared, you should never hurt it. It won’t make her stop doing those things, and she may even start to be afraid of you.
  • Don’t make your dog go outside or face her trigger if she doesn’t want to. Scared pets panics or act mean when scared. Let her move into and out of scary situations at her time. This can keep her from getting hurt or hurting herself.
  • Don’t give your dog too much or “flood” it. Let your dog approach things that scare her at her own pace. Make sure she knows she can always leave something that scares her by walking her away from things she finds scary.


Why is my dog afraid to go outside

What can we do to help him when he needs to go outside to empty his bladder?

One option is to use a dog door. That way, the dog can choose when to go outside and won’t have to be forced. Another option is to take the dog out on a leash and stay with him until he goes to the bathroom. Praise him and give him a treat.

If your dog is still hesitant to go outside, you can try using a dog stroller or baby carrier. This way, he will be used to being in the outdoors without feeling overwhelmed. Finally, if you need to, you can use an enclosed area like a fenced-in yard or dog park. This will give your dog the chance to explore at his own pace without feeling like he has to go far from home.

What if they are afraid of people or other animals?

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

If your pet is scared of people or other animals, you’ll need to do some extra work to help him feel more comfortable. Start by socializing your pet with as many different people and animals as possible. Take him to parks, pet beaches, doggy daycares, or even just on walks around the neighborhood. The more exposure he has, the less fearful he’ll be.

You can also try desensitization and counter conditioning exercises at home. For example, if your dog is afraid of people, then ask people to come over to your house. As they get more comfortable, you can have the people come closer and closer until they’re able to pet him.

If my pet is afraid to go outside, should I carry him instead?

No, you should not carry your pet if he’s afraid to go outside. This will only make him more anxious and could cause him to panic. If you need to, you can use a stroller or baby carrier. This way, he can get used to being outdoors without feeling overwhelmed.

What can I do while my pet is getting used to being outside?

You can take him on short walks around the neighborhood. Also, let him stop and sniff as much as he wants. As he gets more comfortable, you can start taking him on longer walks and hikes. Finally, make sure to praise him and give him treats whenever he goes outside so that he associates it with positive experiences.

Whenever scared, always remain calm and patient. They can sense when their owners are anxious or angry, and this will only make the situation worse.


Why is my dog afraid to go outside

Dogs are scared to go outside. Also, anything you do right before you try to take her outside can also make her nervous. In this case, you might want to try to help them feel better about getting ready to go outside.

Change the order of any pre-walk actions (like walking toward your dog’s leash, picking it up, putting it on your pet, or putting on your shoes) to help you see them as fun and positive.

As you get ready to take your pet out, look for common signs of stress in her body language. This will help you figure out what you are doing that is making her nervous. If your dog starts to look nervous, try to do something that will help her feel better, like giving her a treat or playing with her favorite toy.

Finally, praise and treat her when she did something you want her to do. You can do this when walking calmly on a leash or going outside without being scared. This will help her associate good things with going outside. Therefore, making her like do it again.

By following these tips, you can help your dog feel more confident about going outside. Make walks and trips to the park more enjoyable for both of you. So get out there and enjoy the great outdoors with your furry friend

— Update: 12-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 10 Reasons Why Your Dog is Afraid to Go Outside Suddenly from the website www.petcarrierverdict.com for the keyword why is my dog afraid to go outside.

If your dog is suddenly scared of something outside, you need to find out why that’s the case. Once you figure out what might be scaring your dog, it’s likely that you can retrain their behavior so they’ll enjoy going outside again.

For some dogs, being outside of their home can cause fear and anxiety. This is normal for a puppy or a dog who has been through a traumatic experience, such as a rescue dog. If they used to like the outdoors until now, it’s likely that something recently happened to trigger their fear.

Dogs develop strong associations with items, places, sounds, etc. Something could have happened to them that you didn’t realize at the time, such as going for a walk when it was raining heavily.

But just as they learned to associate the scary thing with being outdoors, you can work to desensitize them to it. Then, they will associate going outside with something that is fun and enjoyable.

Spending time outdoors should be something to look forward to for your dog. The first thing to do is to recognize their fear and try to determine what caused it. Being able to remove that fear or associate it with something different can make all the difference.

How to Recognize Your Dog’s Fears

Not all dogs show fear in the same way. For example, your dog may refuse to go outside, no matter how much you encourage them (or try to tug on their leash).

Others may go out but will cower low to the ground or have their tail tucked between their legs. Some might even show severe signs of stress and anxiety, like heavy panting and restlessness.

There’s a certain process that needs to go along with retraining your dog to love the outdoors again. Forcing them to do so on your terms and time isn’t a good idea and can result in lasting trauma to your dog’s mental state.

Read more  10 Reasons Why Your Dog is Afraid to Go Outside Suddenly

Let’s take a look at common reasons why your dog might be scared to go outside so that you can find the solution.

1) Sensitivity to Sound

One of the primary reasons your pet might be reluctant to go outside is because of loud or strange sounds. Dogs hear at a higher frequency range than humans. So, a sound that might seem comfortable to a person can be deafening and scary to them.

If your dog is afraid to go outside at night, or if your dog is suddenly scared of the backyard, there’s a good chance they may have heard something out there that was frightening for them. This could be a variety of things, some of which can be more obvious than others.

Some common culprits include:

  • Other dogs barking
  • Loud neighbors
  • Lawnmowers
  • Unexpected noises like thunder, fireworks, etc.
  • Construction work

It only takes one instance of your dog hearing a scary noise for them to associate with being outside with something negative. You may not even know which noise caused the problem in the first place.

Thankfully, that doesn’t necessarily matter. If you do have an idea which noise caused your dog to become frightened, you can take measures to remove it.

But, if you think a loud noise is what caused your dog to be scared at night or scared of their backyard, introducing them slowly back into your yard is the best option. As explained by the Animal Humane Society, this is best done through a process called desensitization.

Desensitization is the practice of gradually reintroducing your dog to the yard instead of forcing them to face their fears all at once. It can take a lot of time and patience, but it’s a great solution for fixing the problem.

To practice desensitization in the backyard from loud noises, start with small steps. Open the door for your dog for a few minutes. If they choose to go out, that’s a good start. If not, close the door and try again later.

Take them out for a few minutes at a time, when the neighborhood is quiet. You should be able to pick up on their stress cues and if they’re feeling anxious. If they are, take them back inside.

The idea is to slowly and consistently show them there’s nothing to be afraid of outside. So, the next time they do hear a loud noise, they won’t be so frightened because they know they’re safe outdoors.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

2) Bad Experiences

Just as dogs can recall being scared of loud noises for a long time, they can also remember bad experiences. This could happen from something like getting bitten by an ant in the yard to encountering a mean dog on a walk. Dogs can easily make the connection between a frightful situation and when/where it happened.

If your dog is anxious on walks or seems hesitant, think about any negative experiences they may have had. Obviously, if another animal or person was involved, you’ll want to keep them away from that trigger.

Desensitization works well for remedying this problem, too. If your dog doesn’t want to go on walks anymore, you should start slowly with a walk around the block.

For many dogs, they may even begin to perk up and calm down after just one walk. For others, it can take a while. Don’t give up and pay attention to your dog’s stress signals for when you might need to take them inside.

3) Improper Socialization

If your puppy or rescue dog is afraid to go outside, it could be because they aren’t used to seeing the world through a positive lens. As a result, it can feel overwhelming and scary.

Before a dog hits 14 weeks old, they should be introduced to the outside world. This includes different places, people, and other dogs.

Exposure to the world needs to be a gentle procedure, to let the dog know there is nothing to be scared of. Sessions should be short and filled with positivity and encouragement.

Puppies who don’t get this socialization can have fears of being outdoors or specific aspects of it including people or other dogs.

You can socialize a dog at any age. But, it can become much more difficult to do once your dog is older and already has a particular view of the world and the things in it. Teaching an adult dog socialization can take a long time, and a lot of patience, but it can be done.

4) New to Leash Walking

If your rescue dog is afraid to go outside or doesn’t seem to enjoy walks with you, it could just be because they aren’t used to it.

Dogs who aren’t leash trained can find it scary for a while if they have to learn about it when they’re older. They might have bad experiences on a leash if a previous owner pulled on them too hard, etc.

Whether your dog is new to leash walking or they associate it with something negative, you can retrain them to make it a positive experience for both of you.

The best approach is to go slowly. Start with a walk around the block and increase it each time. You may even want to invest in a harness that keeps your dog from choking or gasping for air if they start to pull.

5) New Location

Did you make a move from a rural area to the big city and now your dog suddenly refuses to go to the bathroom outside? Is your new yard bigger or smaller? Were other dogs there before?

There are so many factors that come into play when you move to a new place with your dog. It can take time for them to get used to their new surroundings.

As they do, you might see them struggling with some fear and uncertainty. This can have a lot to do with how different the surroundings are from the previous home. If there are new and unfamiliar noises, you already know that can make your dog nervous.

If another dog lived there before, your dog might start to get anxious when they go out and smell the other canine. If there are other dogs next door or nearby, that can also affect their fear.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

Introducing a new dog to your family can have the same effect on your pet. But, it may not be restricted to just going outside. Making a transition to a new home can be tough on a dog, and it might seem like they’re scared of everything.

Introduce your dog to different areas of your new yard slowly and show them they’re safe. After your dog can mark their territory a few times in that designated outdoor area, they should start to feel more comfortable and feel more at ‘home.’

6) Pain or Illness

If your dog is in pain, they can have a variety of different symptoms. Sometimes, it could be something as simple as overgrown toenails. Or, they may have something wrong with their paw that makes it hard for them to walk.

They may also be dealing with a severe internal health issue. Thankfully, there are usually other symptoms that go along with health problems. If your dog seems lethargic and isn’t eating or drinking, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet to get checked out.

They could also be scared of going outside because something hurt them while they were out. Perhaps they were bitten by a bug or another animal or stepped on a stick, thorns, etc.

Again, the best thing to do if that happens to be the case is to slowly and calmly re-introduce them to going outside to show them it’s a safe place.

7) Old Age

Senior dogs can go through different changes mentally and physically as they age. A dog you’ve had for years may suddenly act scared of going in their backyard.

Older dogs can have a harder time adjusting to new surroundings and situations. So, if you recently moved or changed something in the yard, consider that when trying to decide what’s scaring them.

Senior dogs can also be more prone to anxiety when it comes to associating something negative with being outside. If they somehow got injured or were scared by another animal, it can be harder for an old dog to let go of that fear than a younger one.

Fear could be caused by one of the ‘natural’ issues of aging. Many senior dogs develop eye problems. Blurred or impaired vision can cause them to become more anxious, especially outside. Some dogs even develop something called canine cognitive dysfunction.

This is much like Alzheimer’s Disease in humans. As you might expect, if your dog isn’t fully capable of understanding or remembering what’s going on around them, it can be quite scary!

Dogs over the age of seven should have a yearly wellness exam with their veterinarian. By doing this, you can stay on top of any health changes in your senior dog, which will allow you to help them get treatment if it’s needed.

8) In-Home Factors

If you have a routine for letting your dog out, think about what it covers. It could be the routine itself that is causing your dog some fear. Again, it’s all about association.

Do you have slippery floors that lead to your door? Does your dog often slip on them? It could be the floors they’re afraid of and not being outside itself. Has your dog become scared of going up your stairs?

If your dog has ever been hurt, or heard a loud noise, or had a bad experience in your ‘going outside’ routine, it may be the routine that’s the problem.

Try switching things up or implementing a new routine. If you can take them outside through a different door, that could be helpful, too.

Thankfully, this is one of the most comfortable fears to break because by changing just a few simple things, you should be able to dissociate the routine with the fear.

9) Electric Fence

Electric fences are popular options for people who want to let their dog roam free in the yard but want to keep them within parameters.

They work by giving a shock to a special collar around your dog’s neck whenever they go over the invisible fence. As a result, they learn not to go past a certain point in the yard.

Electric fences can be useful, but they can be traumatic for some dogs. If your dog starts to associate going outside with getting shocked, they may begin to fear every inch of the yard, not just the areas they aren’t supposed to go over.

Dogs can react differently to this type of training. If you start to notice that your dog seems scared to go out or move about the yard, using an electric fence or a shock collar may not be the best way to keep them where you want them.

10) Thunderstorms

Maybe your dog seems entirely comfortable with a passing storm when they’re inside. But, if they’ve ever been outside in a thunderstorm, or even in the rain, it could create a negative association with the outdoors.

Not only can the sights and sounds of lightning and thunder frighten your dog and over-stimulate them, but the rain itself can be frightening.

Most dogs don’t like the feeling of rain hitting them. So, while it might be nothing more than an annoyance for people, it can be somewhat traumatizing for a dog, especially when they’re dealing with other stimuli, too.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

It’s not a good idea to let your dog out during a storm anyway. But, if they happened to be out when a rumble of thunder passed by, it could be enough to make them afraid of being outside.

The best thing to do in this situation is to be patient and slowly introduce them to going outside again when it’s quiet and sunny.

Things to Avoid Doing When Your Dog Won’t Go Outside

Most of the reasons for your dog’s fear can be helped with some retraining. But, you have to go about that retraining the right way. In most cases, it can take time and patience.

Don’t make some common mistakes in trying to get your dog comfortable going outside again:


  • Don’t force them: One of the main errors owners can make is trying to pull their dog out on a leash, or even carry them outside. You might get the dog out, but you could be creating an even more traumatic event for them in doing so. It could cause your dog to panic, in which case they aren’t learning anything to get over the fear.
  • Don’t punish them: Never scold your dog if they seem scared to go outside. They probably won’t associate the punishment with the behavior anyway. And, it could make the experience even scarier for them.
  • Don’t ‘flood’ them: As people, we’re often told to ‘face our fears.’ This is commonly called flooding. You should never flood your dog with whatever they might be afraid of outside. Dogs don’t respond to facing their fears by overcoming them most of the time. Instead, they need to be assured that they’ll be safe when they go out.

How to Make Your Dog Love Going Outside

Desensitizing your dog to whatever might be scaring them to go outside is a great start. For some dogs, though, it can take a little more coaxing to be comfortable in the great outdoors again.

Use these tips to make life easier:

  • Make a treat trail that leads outside
  • Scatter several of your dog’s favorite toys throughout the yard
  • Create a feeding station outside – start inside and move closer to the door until your dog’s food bowl is eventually out. They’ll associate going out with eating, which is usually a positive activity for any dog.
  • Make going outside a fun activity for your dog by going out with them for a while and engaging in play

The idea is to get your dog to love being outside again. Catering to their personality and introducing things they already enjoy to the great outdoors can make this easier on both of you. It will also help to reduce your dog’s fear even faster.

What to Do if My Dog is Scared of Going Outside

As you can see, there are many reasons why your dog might be suddenly afraid to go outside. Whether they won’t go in the backyard or refuse to take a walk, it’s likely something happened to them that they won’t soon forget.

But that doesn’t mean the fear has to last forever. Thankfully, in most cases, it can be reversed, and your dog will be back to their old playful ways again.

Remember that dogs respond to encouragement and positive associations. It was likely a negative association with something outside that triggered their fear, to begin with.

If you have a dog who suddenly won’t go outside anymore, take some of these reasons into consideration. By figuring out what it might be that they’re suddenly scared of, you can start counter-conditioning them to love the outdoors once more.


— Update: 13-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Why Is My Dog Afraid To Go Outside? (Explained) from the website www.oodlelife.com for the keyword why is my dog afraid to go outside.

Most dogs love being outdoors, and one of the greatest joys of having a canine companion is the feeling of being able to enjoy their company in some fresh air and sunshine. Whether it’s a walk in the park or just a game of fetch in the yard, dogs will happily hang out all day with you outdoors. 

However, some dogs head towards the door and then steadfastly refuse to go out. What gives?!

Why is my dog afraid to go outside
Why is my dog afraid to go outside? (Explained)

If you’ve noticed that your dog is afraid to go outside, you’re not alone. 

There are many possible reasons behind your dog’s fear of the outdoors. Once you have an idea of the reason your dog is afraid of going outside, there are various ways you can help your dog overcome that fear.

In this blog post, we are going to take a good look into the likely causes of the fear your dog is experiencing. We are also going to see some dos – as well as don’ts – when trying to resolve your canine’s fear. 

Signs Your Dog Is Scared

It’s important that you clearly understand the signs your dog is giving you. Different dogs show fear in different ways. Being familiar with common canine signs of fear will help you understand your dog’s triggers which in turn will help you resolve the fears your dog is experiencing. 

Why is my dog afraid to go outside
A dog is scared while looking up.

Here are some of the stress signals that could hint that your dog is scared.

  • Whining
  • Snapping
  • Pacing
  • Hiding
  • Clinginess
  • Lip-licking
  • Cowering
  • Pancaking (when your dog refuses to walk and lies flat on the floor)
  • Flattened/pinned back ears
  • Tail tucking
  • Aggression (includes snapping, excessive barking and growling, and even biting)
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Whale eyes (when you can see the whites of their eyes)
  • Urination or defecation

Why Your Dog Is Afraid To Go Outside ?

Here are some reasons that may be responsible for making your dog afraid to go outside.

Personality Type

Naturally, dogs tend to be quite excited about interacting with their environment. Most dogs are inquisitive and enthusiastic about even the littlest things. 

Why is my dog afraid to go outside
The dog is lying in front of the door.

However, just like human beings have their unique personalities, so do dogs. Some dogs are naturally outgoing and daring, throwing caution to the wind. On the other hand, some tend to be more careful about the things in their environment and about new experiences or people.

For instance, some dog breeds – such as Chihuahuas and Shetland Sheepdogs tend to be more fearful by nature. 

Puppy Panic 

Puppies that have recently left their mothers and littermates tend to be wary in the beginning of going outdoors. Moving into a new home with a new family is a significant change in the lives of puppies. It can be very overwhelming and stressful for them and this can manifest itself as a fear of just about anything, including the outdoors. 

Puppy panic is a very common phenomenon with all dogs, but especially with younger puppies.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside
A Chihuahua puppy barking and whining alone in a room.

Improper Puppy Socialization

Before a puppy turns 14 weeks old, there are key windows of time during which it should be introduced to people, places, objects, and other dogs. These time frames are known as puppy socialization periods and are the best times for the world to be introduced to your puppy.

When puppies miss out on this critical period, it tends to be more difficult to get them comfortable with certain things. If your puppy wasn’t properly introduced to the outside world during this period, it is probably having a hard time viewing the unfamiliar outdoors as a positive and safe environment.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside
Puppy rubbing it’s face on a carpet.

Sound Sensitivity

Sound sensitivity is a possible factor if your dog seems to have suddenly developed a fear of the outdoors. Because dogs receive sounds at a higher frequency than humans, sounds that may be tolerable for a human may be very uncomfortable and frightening for them.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside
Boston Terrier looks scared in a red blanket.

When some dogs hear a sound they consider frightening, they tend to associate that sound with the environment they are in when they hear the sound. So if your dog is suddenly scared of going into the yard, it may have heard a frightening sound there. 

The sound could be a variety of things ranging from loud neighbors, fireworks, a gunshot, or a car backfiring. You may not identify the sound in question as a dog’s hearing is four times more sensitive than ours. What your dog is hearing might be missed by you. 

If you live in a busy urban area, it’s also possible that your dog prefers the relative quiet that staying indoors offers as opposed to the noise of the activity outdoors.

Trauma From Negative Experiences

Sometimes, when some dogs have negative experiences outside, they become more reluctant to go on walks or to step outside. This negative experience could be anything – getting bitten by an insect in the yard, getting injured outside, encountering a mean dog, or even an unfriendly person.

Read more  Are You Ready to Get a Dog? 7 Cons of Having a Dog

Why is my dog afraid to go outside
Dog is being scared with his owner!

Using electric containment systems like radio fences for boundary training can also be a bad experience for your dog. Sometimes, instead of associating the pain with crossing a specific boundary, your dog may see the entire yard as an unsafe area. Because of the fear of getting shocked, your dog may decide to avoid going outdoors altogether.

If you notice your dog responding this way during boundary training, try using another training method for a while and see if it makes a difference.

New Location

There are various ways that dogs may respond to moving to a new location. While some may be excited and enthusiastic, others may be more afraid or anxious.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside
Dog walks in an unfamiliar place with his owner.

If you just moved into a new location with your dog, it may take some time for your dog to adjust to the new environment.  

New unfamiliar noises, the smell of a canine that may have lived in the house before, the neighbors’ dogs, and many more factors than make your dog uncomfortable for a while at the new location.

House Factors

Sometimes, your dog’s fear of going outside may have more to do with the path that leads outdoors than the outdoors itself.

Could something in the house be scaring your dog? Also, if your dog doesn’t have much experience with stairs, it will be a problem for them if there are stairs on the way out.

Some other possible reasons your dog could be afraid of going outdoors include:

  • Bad weather – rain, cold, windy conditions
  • Pain or illness
  • Old age
  • No leash training
Why is my dog afraid to go outside
A newly groomed Maltese standing on the floor.

What Not To Do? 

Before we go into some practical steps you can take in helping your dog overcome its fears, it’s just as important that you know what not to do. 

  • Don’t punish your dog for being afraid. This will not make your dog any less afraid and may even make it begin to dislike or even fear you.
  • Don’t force them to go outside.
  • Don’t ‘flood’ them. Flooding refers to making your dog face their fears by exposing them to whatever it is they may be afraid of outside. This method may work for humans, but not for dogs.

These are some common mistakes dog owners are inclined to make when trying to resolve their canine’s fears. These actions may not be counterproductive, and they may even make the situation much worse.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside
Boston Terrier sitting with his owner on a couch.

What To Do To Help Your Fearful Dog? 

The best way to get your dog comfortable with the outdoors is through desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques.

Desensitization is slowly and gradually familiarizing your dog with the objects and environments that scare them. This is different from flooding because, during desensitization, the dog is exposed to the trigger at a level that doesn’t evoke fear.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside
Beagle is happy to receive a dog treat.

For example, a dog that is afraid of cars can be exposed to one parked at a distance so it can see the car but is too far away to react. If you’re unsure what the trigger is, you can start by placing your dog in front of an open or transparent door that leads to the yard.

As the dog is gradually and continuously exposed to the yard without entering it, they gradually become more comfortable. This may take a while, but you must be patient to understand the signs of your dog.

Counterconditioning is the process of training your dog to develop new associations with its triggers. For instance, if your dog’s trigger is cars, you can feed your dog with some high-value treats when he sees a car. Over time, you can repeat this exercise while bringing your dog closer to a car. 

You can also create a treat trail that leads just outside the door into the yard. Gradually, you can begin to increase the length of the treat trail further into the yard. 

Another thing you can do is to scatter your dog’s favorite toys throughout the yard. With time, your dog will begin to associate going outside with positive emotions, instead of negative ones.

Desensitization and counterconditioning, when used together, are very effective in resolving your dog’s fear of the outdoors.

Final Thoughts 

A fearful dog isn’t a happy one, so it is up to us to help them. With some patience and understanding, you can help your dog overcome its fears and enjoy the time outdoors with you! 

— Update: 13-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Why is My Dog Afraid to Go Outside from the website www.petside.com for the keyword why is my dog afraid to go outside.

Most dogs love the great outdoors! In fact, many spend hours howling by the door or nagging their owners to let them out. The more time they spend outside, the happier they are. But what if your dog is different? What if your dog is afraid to go outside? This can happen in rescue dogs and pups as they transition to their new home. Older dogs can become suddenly afraid even though they have been comfortable outside for years! Having a dog afraid to go outside can be stressful and upsetting and may indicate that your four-legged friend needs help. If your dog won’t go outside it can result in stress-related illness and obesity and other conditions caused by a lack of exercise. It also makes potty training a pup almost impossible.

That’s why you need to check our advice on how to discover what is causing the problem. We give you a detailed plan for helping your dog to feel more comfortable when they are outside with practical exercises and useful tips.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

How Can I Tell if my Dog is Anxious on Walks?

Your dog may not be able to talk to you but it is important that dog owners learn how to read canine body language and tune into their dog’s fear. This will allow you to work out when they are afraid and what is making your dog scared. Here are some of the telltale signs that your dog is stressed:

  • Pancaking. This is when your dog lies flat on the floor as you try to take them out of the front door. They may also freeze in one position and refuse to move or even pace around when they see you getting your things ready for a walk.
  • Facial expression. A nervous dog may have wide eyes (whale eyes) and dilated pupils, lick their lips and drool, glance away from you and pin back their ears.
  • Behavior on a walk. A dog that is scared of going outside may pull hard when leash walking but this will be back in the direction of your home! They may suddenly stop and refuse to move or adopt a crouched position with their tail tucked under them, for example, at the entrance to the dog park
  • Other signs of stress. Some dogs that are scared of going outside will poop or pee and others may pant a lot. You may also notice excessive whining or barking.

Why Does my Dog Hate the Outside?

Are you wondering why won’t my dog go outside and try to get to the bottom of what is going on? We’ve broken down the possible scenarios that can happen in this section.

New Dogs Scared of Going Outside

If your dog is new to your home, because they are a pup or because you have adopted an adult dog, you may have noticed straight away that your dog is afraid of going outside.

In a young dog, this could be due to something called ‘puppy panic’. When a pup first comes to a new home it can be very stressful for everyone. The stress that the humans feel can get picked up by the pup and generalized anxiety can develop. Everything is new to a pup and they can be very fearful of everything from vacuums to their human housemates.

Improper socialization can also be at the root of many cases of anxiety. If a pup does not get plenty of positive associations with the outdoors when a dog’s brain is developing in a critical way (up to 14 weeks of age) they may always be fearful of the outside. Also, young dogs can be super sensitive to negative experiences outdoors at this time and this can affect how they view the great outdoors for the rest of their lives.

Rescue Dogs and the Outside

If you have a rescue dog, the situation can be even more complex. There is not often an opportunity to speak to a previous owner about the dog’s fears so it is all a bit of a mystery. Helping an old dog overcome their fear is harder but not impossible. Getting to the bottom of what is making the dog nervous is a useful first step. Your rescue pup will need plenty of focussed training sessions to help them deal with their fears and you will need plenty of patience. The rescue shelter may be able to give you some specific advice.

Leashes and Collars Outside

Most dogs are more nervous when they are in a collar and leash and this could be the source of the problem as these are usually worn outside. For pups, this is unfamiliar and it can feel quite strange around a young dog’s neck. A harness may be less stressful for them to begin with.

Older dogs can feel vulnerable when they are on a leash and therefore not able to escape if they are attacked. Many dogs are more reactive and generally grumpy towards other dogs when they are on a leash and this can eventually lead to generalized anxiety about being outside.

Why do Dogs Suddenly Get Scared of the Outside?

A more senior dog that is suddenly scared of going outside has usually had some sort of adverse experience. This is often a loud noise that startled them and you may not even have realized that it was a scary noise at the time. These noise-related negative experiences can result in your dog being scared to go outside even though they were perfectly happy to do so in the past.

Some sounds that can make a dog suddenly refuse to go outside include:

  • Noisy garbage truck. Garbage trucks are particularly distressing for some dogs. They are large, have very intense smells, and have a variety of noises at different pitches and volumes. The noises coming from garbage trucks are also quite unpredictable which can make some dogs absolutely terrified. Snowplows can have a similar effect.
  • Loud engines and lawnmowers. Often dogs feel anxious when they hear loud noises from engines – this could be from a car or something like a lawnmower. A sudden noise, like a car backfiring or a horn blowing, is even more startling.
  • Thunder and fireworks. At the top of the list of scary noises are thunder and fireworks. Not all dogs are scared of thunderstorms and fireworks but many of them are. Some people notice that their dog gets more concerned about these as they get older.
  • Barking dogs. A barking dog can sound very threatening to a human so it is not surprising that they are scary for fearful dogs. If your pooch has been suddenly startled by a barking dog it can set up an ongoing fear.
  • Unfamiliarity. Most dogs feel some anxiety when faced with things that are unfamiliar. New slippery floors can trigger anxiety as can a new barrier such as an electric fence or radio fence. Getting stung by an insect is pretty scary too!
  • Medical issues. There could be an injury or medical condition that is affecting how your dog feels about going outside. Something as simple as overgrown toenails can cause a lot of discomforts but it could be something more serious such as a sprain or even arthritis. Senior dogs can develop dementia which makes them behave differently. It is always advisable to seek veterinary advice if you are concerned.

Sometimes, the fear is not related to one individual noise or experience but the dog is overwhelmed by all the sounds, sights, and smells associated with being outside. It is simply too much for them to take in all at once and they decide that they would rather stay inside!

Why is my dog afraid to go outside

Dos and Don’ts of dealing with a dog’s fear of the outside

You need to be careful about how you tackle this issue because, despite your best intentions, you could end up making things worse. That’s why we’ll start by looking at what you should NOT do:

  • Punishment. This is one approach that you can take that is guaranteed to make things worse. Your dog will associate whatever is making them scared with punishment and that will make them even more scared of it. Never punish a dog for being scared of something.
  • Force. Confronting stressful situations is something that must not be forced on a dog. It can lead to panic which presents a risk of injury for you and the dog. This approach also re-enforces the fear which makes it even harder to tackle in the long run.
  • Over-intervention. As a caring dog Mom or Dad of course you want to do all you can to reassure your pooch but there is a danger of doing too much! It is possible to ‘flood’ the dog and make a huge deal out of it. Constantly taking them outside, fussing over them, and blocking escape routes can make a dog’s brain shut down and they gain nothing.

So, now that you know what to avoid, here are some basic principles that you should bear in mind whilst you are tackling this issue: Here are the things that you should DO:

  • Identify the trigger. This will not always be possible but if you can identify exactly what your pooch is scared of (e.g. heavy traffic noise) this will make the process a lot quicker to deal with.
  • Make it a pleasant experience. Everything about this must be fun! Watch your dog closely and learn how to interpret their body language. If they are not enjoying it – stop!
  • Go at your dog’s pace. Some dogs respond quicker than others. If the behavior has been going on for a long time it could take months to rectify. It can be a particularly lengthy process with rescue dogs.
  • Take safety precautions. Be aware that both you and your dog could get injured. You need a secure harness and you may need to use a collar as well. Your dog must be micro-chipped in case they escape.
  • Keep training short. The most successful training sessions are short and frequent. So, focus on short walks, to begin with. It is important to end the training session on a positive so if things are going well, try to end it when things are positive instead of waiting for them to go wrong.
  • Get help if you need to. There are plenty of dog behavior experts and trainers who have a lot of experience in dealing with these sorts of issues. Your vet should be able to give you recommendations. Some dogs may never get to the stage where they love the outdoors but you can help them reach a point where they are not terrified.

Tried and tested steps to help a dog’s fear of the outside

Here are the main methods for how to ease dog anxiety on walks that canine behavior experts recommend:

1. De-sensitization

This is the initial step in helping your dog to feel less afraid of the outdoors. You will expose your dog to whatever they are finding stressful but at a very low level. So, if they are scared of everything outside, you would simply leave the front door open and allow them to look outside and take it all in. Place a leash on them in case they run outside. If it is heavy traffic, go and stand several yards away from a busy road but if your dog is starting to react, you are too close!

2. Counterconditioning

Counter conditioning is recognized as the most effective way to help fearful dogs. The theory is that you build positive associations with whatever is making your dog stressed. It helps if you know exactly what this is and a force-free trainer may be able to help with this. Here are some exercises for you to try. You’ll need some high-value treats, a food bowl, a toy that your pooch loves, and a tape recorder/smartphone.

Exercise for noise anxiety

Record the noise that your dog is scared of or find a similar noise online. Our dog was scared of the sound of children playing in a playground so we used a recording on YouTube. This allows you to control the volume and duration of the exposure. Inside your home, start playing the sound and give your dog some super tasty treats. Stop the sound and stop giving the treats. You want your dog to associate the sound with awesome treats so they learn to love it rather than hate it.

Now, repeat the process outside several times until your dog is totally comfortable with the noise. It’s now time to tackle the real thing! Go and sit with your dog several yards away from a playground and give them plenty of treats. Your aim is to eventually walk past the noise and all your dog will do is turn to you for a treat. This process can take several weeks or months and be prepared for some setbacks along the way.

Exercise for general anxiety of outdoors

An outdoors feeding station can be very useful in this situation and it works best if you break down the exercise into stages. Start by feeding your dog a few feet away from the door but with the door closed. Over a period of a few days, start opening the door a little more each day until it is fully open. Then start to move the feeding station closer to the door until it is on the threshold. Eventually, you will be able to move the bowl outside and start the process of moving it farther away from the door. Do this until your dog is completely comfortable outside.

A treat trial is another approach that you could try. Simply lay a trail of high-value treats leading to the door. Over a period of a few days, extend this trail out through the door and into the garden or yard.

If your dog is not at all food motivated you could substitute the treats for a favorite toy. Another approach is to stop feeding your dog in a bowl and hand-feed them their meals whilst carrying out the counter conditioning. Playing fun games outside is also very useful.

Why is my dog afraid to go outside


Q: Should I carry my nervous dog outside?

A: This is actually a method of force and will not help the situation at all. It could even result in your dog feeling anxious about being carried in any situation. Whilst they are in your arms, your dog has no control, and being carried can make a dog feel even more vulnerable. They may react with aggression which is dangerous for you or leaping out of your arms can result in injury for them.

Q: Why is nighttime scary for some dogs?

A: Dogs have excellent night vision so this is not down to them not being able to see. However, their vision will be reduced at night which means that their hearing and sense of smell are heightened.

They can get overwhelmed by the smells and noises, especially in an urban environment. There could be flashing lights, strange shadows, and sounds that they do not hear during the day. All of this can make a dog scared to go outside at night.

Q: What causes sudden anxiety about the outside in dogs?

A: This is nearly always associated with a negative experience. It could be triggered by an unpleasant physical sensation (a slippery floor, being stung by an insect), a loud noise (a trash truck or another dog barking). It could also be something to do with your pet’s health such as an injury or dementia so you may want to talk to your vet.


  1. Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA, Why is My Dog Afraid to Go Outside? – Pet MD


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