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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all. Been an active reader for a few years but first post.

I have a 3.5 yr old male gsd (neutered) who has all of a sudden become fearful of being outside. We've had him since a pup (10wks) and he's always been outside during the day in the back yard and inside at night. He was never restrained to being outside during the day, but if he was in, wanted to go back out. He is by himself but we have two young kids that have been raised with him (son is 4 and daughter is 2) so he get's to play with them a lot.

Anyways, now that you have a little background on him, I was out of town a few months ago for one night and my wife was home with the kids and animals. When I came back the following day, he just seemed a little different. He still went outside but just didn't seem to enjoy it as he did. Over the next few weeks it got worse and worse. I'm now to the point where he will not go outside without someone with him and if we leave him outside, he starts jumping on the back door, scratching like crazy on the house and even going under the fence to escape the backyard (very descriptive). When he get's out from the backyard, he doesn't run away, he just starts going to the other doors on our house trying to get in. I've talked to vets which have suggested is separation anxiety from us but I disagree as we can leave him in the house while we are gone and he just sleeps. I've contacted a few trainers who all say they want to take him and board and train for a few weeks which equates to a lot of $$$.

My thought is that something happened while I was away that my wife was unaware of. There's no way for me to go back in time to see what happened, but I do think that's the problem. I have tried to make the back yard a fun place for him which works sometimes. I play ball with him but at some point he just ignores me and goes and sits by the back door which if it's unlocked he can nose open and go inside. I do exercise him every day taking him on a 30 minute bike ride (weather permitting) which he loves, but no matter how tired he gets, he will still freak out when he goes back into the yard alone. He get's so worked up, breathing hard, drooling, won't eat or drink outside even if it's right in front of him but if he comes in, he eats and drinks like a maniac.

I'm to the point now where I'm just stumped on what to try next and maybe hear thoughts from others or if anyone has had this happen before. If you need anymore info, please let me know! Thanks for any help in advance.

Here's a photo of him also :)
 

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Welcome to the forum!

I have not had experience with behavior like this. My first instinct is the same as yours... that maybe something happened to him when he was outside.

Have you thoroughly inspected the yard? Is there anyway that something has taken up residence in the yard - snake, wasps, etc?

Any possibility of health issue that is making him feel less secure - vision, hearing, smell, etc.?
 

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Right now I am dealing with fireworks, not even 4th of July, so Apache stands at the doorway and listens. I also have that problem with thunder, he won't go outside . But if you dog doesn't have those fears it's hard to say what he's thinking. No recent problems with neighbors? The only thing I could think of is to stay in the yard and see what he reacts to.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the quick reply.

No, nothing in the yard has changed. The only thing that I can think of that might have changed around us is that new people moved in next door. They're in the military and both are men. They are always gone but this did start about the same time as them moving in. The only reason I say this MIGHT be the problem is that he has never tried to get out on that side of the yard even though it would be sooo much easier for him to. He is very weary of them too. Again, I have no proof about this theory, just a thought. I have asked them if anything has happened and both have said no.

I did take him into the vet and they did a full blood work test on him and nothing came back wrong. This is when they wanted me to put him on anxiety meds which I just didn't think was the issue. They also checked everything else. He's been a very healthy dog.
 

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I have tried to make the back yard a fun place for him which works sometimes. I play ball with him but at some point he just ignores me and goes and sits by the back door which if it's unlocked he can nose open and go inside. I do exercise him every day taking him on a 30 minute bike ride (weather permitting) which he loves, but no matter how tired he gets, he will still freak out when he goes back into the yard alone. He get's so worked up, breathing hard, drooling, won't eat or drink outside even if it's right in front of him but if he comes in, he eats and drinks like a maniac.
I would continue to make the yard a fun place and I would not let him out unsupervised.

I would observe very closely those times when he seems to really want to go back inside. For example, is there a specific area of the yard he seems to want to avoid? Maybe the neighbor's fence line? Are the neighbors going in or coming out of their house at that time?

It is interesting that this new behavior seems to have coincided with new neighbors. How is he around new people in general?

FWIW, I do not think that sending him away to a board and train facility is a good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hmm, okay, so trying to leave him outside alone is a no no? He's also lost all sense of behavior control when trying to come in. He will knock over my kids and even my wife while trying to get inside first so he won't have to stay outside. He doesn't do this with me but everyone else he does.

He is always very cautious with new people especially when the kids are around but has never been aggressive.
 

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Hmm, okay, so trying to leave him outside alone is a no no?
Well, I think it would probably be best to go out with him until you get a better handle on what is going on.

Being out there offers a couple of advantages:
1. May help you identify the "trigger"
2. Will likely help re-build his confidence and re-instill in him a positive association with the back yard.

Hopefully others will chime in with more thoughts : )
 

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I agree that something scared him outside..I also agree someone should go out with him until or if, you can figure out what it was that scared him..

Does not sound like separation anxiety..Could you have a bee's nest out there? maybe got stung/fire ants/ neighbor guys did something that they won't admit to?

If he's fine in the house when your gone, that's where I'd keep him..Hope you can get to the bottom of it!
 

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you don't say where you live....we have been having alot of reports of (young) bears foraging in peoples yard recently....and raccoons can be aggressive, they troll for garbage cans whose lids can be easily removed...???? a wild animal scare maybe?

No way of knowing for sure...but if these things happen around your area, there is a possibility he was threatened by something like this

Lee
 
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