Why Outdoor Dogs are Nearly Impossible to Train
Thanks Gloucestershire echo. I think Dogs Deserve To Live Inside
I have recently had quite a few people that need help with their dog training; my answers are pretty standard, exercise, training, crate training etc.
But lately I have had a lot of people that want to train their “outside dog”.
Working with an “outdoor dog” is so much more complicated that working with an indoor dog.
However, I think that people who don’t work with that “indoor dog or puppy” end up with that “outside dog” because it becomes easier to leave the naughty puppy or adult dog outside and not interact with it at all.
Don’t Do It
Don’t fall prey to this problem!
All relationships take effort and work, the same is true for your relationship with your dog. Without thoughtfulness, kindness, patience, and obedience your relationship isn’t going to work.
So my first training tip is: don’t leave your dog outside!
Good obedient dogs live inside where they are sheltered from the conditions of the weather and where they can learn manners and obedience from their owner.
Back Yard Dog Syndrome
When I was training service dogs for people with disabilities we used to go to the shelter every week (sometimes a few times a week) to look for potential service dog candidates (one person’s trash can be another man’s treasure! For more on finding the right shelter dog click here)
But we would find many dogs with what we called “Back Yard Dog Syndrome”
The first part of our temperament test was to bring the dog, on leash, into a sterile room with no one else inside. We would sit on a chair and wait to see how long it would take the dog to interact with us.
We wanted a dog that would fairly quickly, jump on us, nuzzle us, rub on us, put their heads in our laps or bump our hands for attention.
*All dogs were given at least 3 days prior to testing to get more used to their environment.
Dogs that didn’t want to be touched or didn’t want affection (what we called Back Yard Dog Syndrome) did not pass.
We wanted a dog that was more interested in people than anything else.
Granted some of these dogs body slammed us or jumped on us, but their agenda was not to be “with us”.
You see outdoor dogs care about outdoor things, like sounds, and the smells of their environment. They haven’t always bonded to a human, but they are used to wandering and sniffing; so they choose this behavior even when taken out of a shelter run.
They care about sniffing and barking and squirrels and deer and all kinds of other things that the outdoors has to offer; because that is what they are used to.
Typically, as mentioned above, they don’t have a deep relationship with their owners.
After all, it is difficult to build a relationship, especially one where the other person/dog listens to you, if you don’t spend time together.
And being outside makes them reactive. They are listening for sounds and opportunities to bark.
I Have People Dogs
I have “people dogs” they don’t care for being outside for long, unless I am outdoors with them.
My dogs also don’t care for other dogs. They are not dog aggressive, but they have no desire to play with them either.
My dogs care about ME.
I’m am their world.
I carry their toys, their treats, and I know how to play the games they love.
And, I think that their living inside is strategic to our having such a good relationship.
I give them commands when they are naughty, I work on obedience for their meals, and I also spend a good deal with them in my lap and snuggling with me.
All of this time spent together helps our friendship, trust and relationship grow stronger. It helps ensure that they listen to me, and it helps me to understand and empathize with them.
People who have “outdoor dogs” often don’t choose to spend time with them.
Usually the only time they see them is for the occasional feeding or walking through the yard.
Again, it is difficult if not impossible to have a relationship when this is all you do.
You must make time to train. Train at least 3-5 times per day for 15 to 20 minutes a session.
You must make time to exercise. Your outdoor dog isn’t exercising himself no matter how much area he has to roam, for more on that read this
And, you must make time to snuggle him. Take time for petting and massage and down time. Not everything you has to do should be “uber” exciting. Your dog should learn to relax when you are around, just like he should learn to listen.
If you are EXCITING every time you see your dog, your dog is more likely to jump on you and get over excited.
Outdoor dogs need to learn to be calm around you as well as all of the things mentioned above.
But ultimately I am a believer in indoor dogs and the relationship you will have when you learn to live and love one another.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.