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A couple of weeks ago, I adopted a stray dog. He's a big, young (about 1.5 years) nice and very tame animal. We have two other dogs, much older (boy and girl) and inter-dog relations are good. But the new dog doesn't want to go for a walk outside, ever, either with the other two or alone. He prefers to stay at home... What should I do to convince him that walks are nice and enjoyable...?

  • Have you tried starting by feeding that dog closer and closer to the door, then only outside and further and further from the house? I don't think your other dogs would mind being fed only near the same places. – user6030 Dec 18 '17 at 3:41
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    Does he have access to a garden? Are you sure it's not the leash that's the problem? – Stephan Branczyk Dec 18 '17 at 13:34
  • Yes, he has, to a large, fenced front garden. He can be convinced, with some insistence, to leave the house, but he absolutely refuses to cross the garden gate to the street, leash or no leash... – xxavier Dec 18 '17 at 13:51
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A very good answer there but there are ways to help your dog enjoy a walk, especially with the others.

First, understand that a stray dog is very different from dog raised home from a puppy.

At a basic level, a dog is like a wolf(an ancestor) but unfortunately, due to centuries of human contacts, not as efficient.

A stray dog’s survival is based on his ability to find food efficiently. They usually set off at dawn and look for substance all day if they have to. If other strays are in the area, there is competition and food become scarce. If the dog is successful, it will return to the den satisfied until the next meal which usually is in the evening before dusk. Again, success will be important there, to return to the den.

If you look carefully, you’ll notice that any dogs are most active in the morning and early evening, as long as they are satisfied, mimicking the above.

As per the above answer, it’s very clear that this dog is associating being outside with bad experiences, probably because he struggled greatly and now he is content with what you are offering.

You could do nothing and he probably would be fine.

However,

You must ask yourself if this dog would be happy living like this? Is he true to himself, does he have the best quality of life he really deserve?

I have trained many dogs and it is possible to help him.

Basically, a dog can get stuck in his memories:

Outside = pain/hardship

As a leader, you must start thinking you can help, first by erasing the above. Dogs can feel what you feel. They have now been proven to be capable of reading human emotions, understanding them and replicate as per study mentioned here:

Dog emotions study

Think positive and the dog will also.

The next stage is to change the dog’s memory of outside and replacing it with positive associations.

Initially you start inside. Training in basic commands with rewards is a must. It will help the relationship between you and the dog, establishing trust. The others must also be involved to create a pack unity, giving the stray dog a place and a positive purpose.

Next: play time, also with rewards. Not always food, sometimes hugs and cuddles or the usual”good dog!”

Start small. Small things. Little and often is best.

Slowly move towards a door, then do it with the door open or in the garden. Then do it just outside by the door. Then a bit further and so on...

It takes work but it’s worth it... I’ve had lots of strays in my life and if you put the work in, you’ll be amazed how great they become. It will also benefit your other dogs... it will stretch them as well and really fill their lives and yours...

It takes a lot of patience and effort... I am happy to help if you have more questions.

Good luck!

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    Maybe it is also not only about the memories from outside, but just about the inside being better. You brought him in to a better life, with nice human and dog buddies, freely offered food and shelter, cosy dogbeds and other cool stuff. He does not know your reasons for going outside, he knows, he has no reason as inside is so much better. You took him in, he does not want to risk to be "taken out" and maybe even left there again. – skymningen Dec 18 '17 at 10:08
  • "They have now been proven to be the only animals capable of reading human emotions." Do you have a source for this? – Pyritie Dec 18 '17 at 12:05
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    @user333232, That study you linked to absolutely shows no such thing. It doesn't even say what you're trying to say. If you don't believe me, just google for horses recognizing human emotions, primates recognizing human emotions, elephants recognizing human emotions, cats recognizing human emotions, etc. – Stephan Branczyk Dec 18 '17 at 13:27
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    @StephanBranczyk Not to mention humans recognizing human emotions. – Mick Dec 18 '17 at 13:34
  • Link updated. There are more than one study now. Thanks – user33232 Dec 18 '17 at 13:42
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Your dog may think that you are going to abandon him. Since he has been a stray, he will be very pleased to have a home, and that may seem to be a far more preferable place than outdoors. Remember that to him, the outdoors is not a playground, but a place of hunger and hardship. Give him time and he may come to like walks once he knows that he will always come home again. Maybe you should take him out on his own to begin with and keep the walks short. Just take him outside the house to begin with, and then slowly lengthen the walks.

We had a mongrel bitch that my brother found tied up outdoors in miserable conditions. She was a real homebody, and would only go outside to do her business, and then it was straight back inside. Walks were out of the question. She seemed quite happy to be an indoor dog and lived to a ripe old age.

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    Reading this puts me in the mind that it might feel safer if you took one (or all) of the other dogs along with you for the walk. Have you tried that? Personally, I doubt any dog I've ever owned would be capable of walking with other dogs without hopelessly weaving the leashes together, but I see people in my neighborhood managing the feat all the time, so it must be possible. – T.E.D. Dec 18 '17 at 3:16
  • @T.E.D. I once knew someone who could walk five GSDs off the leash. They would obediently walk behind him (their pack leader) abreast, with no dog offering to walk ahead of or behind the others. It didn't matter whether they were on a pavement (sidewalk) or in a field. How did he train them to do this? He used an electric prod, but then these were working dogs and he was a security guard. However, he loved his dogs and they loved him. He used to kennel our two GSDs and they loved him too. He didn't walk them with his other dogs, and he promised us that he would never prod them. – Mick Dec 18 '17 at 3:33
  • His wife kept chihuahuas. Talk about chalk and cheese. – Mick Dec 18 '17 at 3:35
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:) Dogs are usually happy to walk, so if they don't want to, it is a clear indication of something gone wrong - we see this with dogs in our shelter all the time!

What usually helps is slowly increasing the territory of the dog - take him to small outdoor places, and once they are happy there, move to larger open areas. Slow steps.

As to how to help the dog enjoy outdoor time, treats and lots of attention is the answer :) That is what has always worked for us :)

  • How does this answer help more then the answers already given? – Flummox Feb 6 '18 at 10:39

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