Sorry in advance that this is so long.
I have a 6 month old female shepherd who is wonderful in almost every way, but in the last month she has become OBSESSED with the backyard.
So, about a month or so ago, my mom put out a bird feeder that the dogs can see from the back door. It attracts a lot of birds and squirrels and my puppy was just coming into her KILL ALL SQUIRRELS phase at this time and was understandably excited about all of the new critters to chase.
Unfortunately it has gone from her running out to the feeder when we open the door to her becoming EXCESSIVELY obsessed with going outside. If anyone walks in the kitchen (where the door is) she starts whining and jumping around. If someone touches the door she SMASHES it with her entire body in attempts to get out. When she came home and the screen door was up she "punched" it and knocked it out of the frame, and if we are not near the door she comes to us and insists she HAS to go out (which we often comply with since she COULD have to go potty)
When I do let her out she runs top speed, leaps off of the deck, and does a crazed circle around the yard, barking and doing unnecessary jumps and a few times she has hit the back wooden fence so hard that she has come away limping.
Now, when we are coming back from walks (walking or in the car) she starts crying about a block away because she knows she is almost to the door. I open the car door and she runs to the front door, ignores the family/ other dog and runs and sits at the back door crying until we let her out.
To answer some of the most likely questions...
1) Exercise: We generally do 2-3 walks a day. 15 minutes, 1 hour, 15-25 minutes. We do 2-3 short training sessions and basically every other moment I am not eating, showering or sleeping I am entertaining her in some way. We have an older dog who plays with Maya constantly (intense running and wrestling). Weekends and days off we go to the dog park and go for very long walks and hikes. She has been through puppy kindergarden, is VERY smart and we are training for CGC and eventually want to train her for agility.
I realize this exercise plan still isn't enough to truly kill off her excess energy and we have been trying to get into several new training classes, one begins in about a week. So, more exercise would certainly help, but I am not entirely sure how to fit it in, since if she had her way we would be playing EVERY SECOND.
2) There is no reason why she CANT go outside, I just do not like that she is OBSESSED with it to an extent where she cannot enjoy other things, and I am worried she is going to get hurt by the way she SHOOTS out of the door. While I tried to "ignore" the behavior at first, this became difficult because we HAVE to let the dogs out when they ask because they may need to go to the bathroom. To come in the front door she has to sit and wait until I give a release command and she is really good at that, so I tried it at the back door, but it had the opposite reaction and she complied, but acted more like I said READY SET GO than wait.
3) Lately I have been working with her by opening the door, holding her collar, walking outside and making her sit and stay on the deck. I then give a release command and she runs off. It does seem to lessen her extreme race around the yard, but my mother (who is with the dogs for several hours during the day) is not willing/ able to do this technique when I am not home, so it is hard to be consistent.
It is a little unrealistic to do this EVERY TIME, although I have been trying to for the last week. Also (while it may be silly to think this way) she takes her squirrel chasing job VERY SERIOUSLY and I hate to take that away from her.
4) Our older dog is also very annoyed by her behavior and when they are going out together he will nip her before the door is opened. She does listen and crouches down and slinks past him before running.
5) I have also tried to incorporate NILF from the start (before these problems) and always make her touch before she can go out. She will still listen and do touch when I ask her to, but then she is body slamming the door to go out.
6) When the door is left open she will do one circle in the yard and then come inside and lay down. She is only insane when the door is closed with the possibility of being opened.
So.. thank you for reading my very long post. Aside from more exercise, what can I do???
Last edited by Maya27; 12-26-2012 at 08:46 PM.