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Dog Behavior: Help! My Dog Won’t Come Back Inside

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Cairn Peeking In ImageYour dog will not come back inside. The more of a rush you’re in the more of a catch-me-if-you-can bozo he is. This dog behavior upsets you. Your stress is completely obvious to your dog; making it even less likely he’ll come through the door.

How does this happen? There are many ways; the most common is cause-and-effect. The dog comes back inside in the morning and that causes you to leave. Or that’s the math he does in his canine mind. Simple solution: Don’t come back inside.

No matter how it started, let’s just fix it. This is a fix that works for most people and dogs, most of the time. (Oh, and you can play it now to prevent this from ever being a problem, too.)

You’ll need:

Here’s what you do:

  • Put your dog on leash.
  • Let him outside (hold on to the leash!)
  • Close the door
  • Open the door.
  • Say your dog’s Name
  • THEN squeak the toy like crazy!
  • When your dog rockets to you (and most will) – toss the toy inside your home.
  • As your dog rushes past you, close the door so he can’t rush back out.
  • Praise wildly and play with him for 20-30 seconds.
  • Then retrieve the toy and stop playing. In every way become totally boring.
  • Wait a 10-20 seconds or so and let him back out as you did before.
  • Repeat.
  • After doing this a couple of times end the session. Put the toy away, out of sight. The ONLY time he gets it is when he comes in from the outside.
  • KEY: Squeak after you say his name. Not before and not at the same time. Just after.
  • When you and your dog get good at this, you can move up to a 10 foot longline. When that is going well, try off leash.
  • Have fun with your dog! Your joy and this game will be irresistible to him.
  • Oh, and during the training time, remove all other squeaky toys from his reach. The only one he gets, for now, is for coming inside.

Here is a favorite squeaky toy for such games: The Bad Cuz. Why? Just becuz…sorry, love a pun. Anyway – it bounces but doesn’t roll too far, has a sturdy squeak and most dogs seem to like it.

Bad Cuz squeaky dog toy Image
JW Pet Company Bad Cuz Dog Toy, Medium (Colors Vary)

  • Hard natural rubber ball with feet
  • Tough squeaker
  • Formidable bounce
  • Available in a variety of colors

Buy on Amazon

All Good and Bad Cuz Toys if you want to see some options.

Give it a try then let me know how things are going!

Author: Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, Dog Expert, offers experienced-based dog info with humor. Author of 8 books, seen on PBS, Sarah knows all about dogs. {Pip} is her rescue dog.

13 Comments

  1. Nice tip! I’ll have to keep that in mind. My dog stays outside for the most part but whenever he IS inside, it’s hard to get him outside again. Does it work both ways?

    • Absolutely. You can also put him on leash and stand in the open door. Really good treats in the outside hand. Have him sit then tell him OK and show him that treat. Praise as he walks out, then feed and praise some more. Then walk him back in and be quiet for a few seconds. Repeat. That can lead to you tossing a treat into the yard for him.

      That’s better than the toy going in that direction as you don’t have to attempt to get the toy back afterward. 😉

  2. My dad adopted a rottie from a rescue in TX (we’re in VA). She does one thing that we cannot figure out. His dog is 3 yrs. old. She’s in good health, with the exception of etropian in her right eye. She’s just had surgery from an opthamologist, and is doing quite well. Sadie defecates ONLY in his dining room randomly. Last weekend we were outdoors for an hour while I was using a furminator on my rottie, and within 30 min. of coming inside, Sadie used the bathroom in my dad’s dining room. She had every opportunity to go outside. It wasn’t raining or bad weather-warm and sunny. She does this at least 2x per month and we can’t understand what motivates her to do this. She knows it is wrong, b/c as soon as it’s discovered and he calls her name, she puts herself immediately in her crate. She won’t come in the dining room when called to “deal” with it-she puts herself in her crate. What’s going on with this?? Thanks, Debbie

  3. My mother and her partner got a rescue a few months ago. The dog is about 2 and had been abused and my mother is elderly, but fit. A couple of months after they got the dog, it was apparently shot by someone in the area when it was outside (they live in a quasi-rural area in Kentucky). The dog lost a leg, but quickly adjusted to being tri-pedal. A few weeks after that, my mother’s partner had a health issue that required him to start wearing a catheter. Before this, the dog hung out by his recliner when she was in doors. Afterward, the dog won’t some in the house at all and acts frightened when she is coaxed. I’m betting it’s the health of my mother’s partner, but would love your take. Thanks.

  4. Hi – I have a 16 month old Border Collie who only comes back into the house (after toilet) for a treat, and even that is not every time! Sometimes she barks or scratches at the door to come in but when you open it she just sits there. Sometimes she will then come in if I shake the biscuit tin, other times not – even if I leave the biscuit on the floor.

    I will give this method a try as something new but I don’t want her to only come in for the toy. Can the toy lure be removed after time successfully? and if so how long to wait?

    • Hi Dave –

      Border Collies are so smart. Okay – the trick to this trick is to use the toy (or the biscuit tin shake) after you have said the word. Not before. That way they are actually not being used as lures (which is a fine concern to have, btw). The routine is word then motivator. If you use the motivator without the word than that becomes the “command”.

      My guess that she’s learned that if she waits for a few seconds something more interesting will happen so, by mistake, not coming in the door has been rewarded. Happens a lot.

      Does that make sense?

      Sarah

  5. My dog is currently outside. He’s a rescue from a shelter that we got 2 weeks ago. We’ve had a bit of an issue since day one with coming back into the house but we were getting better. Now he will not come in at all. I’ve tried treats. Toys. Leaving the door open and leaving the room. Sitting outside. He won’t follow any of the commands were learning so I can get close to him. He just stands at the door or a few feet away and runs as soon as I move. I’m desperate for advice on how to get him in because at this rate he will be sleeping outside.

  6. Hello I have just rescued a pointer x lab 2 years old. I live in a appartment and to get him out the flat is sometimes impossible he wont walk through a door that is being held open for him he just stands there and shakes. Once he is through he is fine and happy that he is walking, what can I do?!

    • Sounds like some local, hands-on help would be best. Since he’s fine once he’s through, your task is easier. If he’s a food-focused dog, start feeding him near the outside door, then with the door cracked open, then a jar, then half open… etc. And for walks, simply lovingly but matter-of-factly take him out. He sounds too big to carry so, since going out is not optional, simply go. Praise him mightily when he has gone through the opening. Generally, a few days of this can make matters easier for everyone.

  7. I have a 10 year chihuahua who we just trained to go through the new dog door. However. He will go through when needing to go potty but will not come back through on is own unless commanded. I want him to know that he can come and go on his own. He will wait outside for hours till he hears the command and then comes through.

    • That’s a “mileage” issue. Prop the door open a bit and repeat, repeat, repeat. Or show him a new squeaky, put him outside, a quake inside. Encourage him. He’ll get it.

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