My Dog Will Only Go Outside With Me? (7 Reasons Explained)

Is your dog acting strangely when you tell him it’s time to go outside? We’ve received many reports from dog owners saying, “My dog will only go outside with me.”

It’s strange, but there are lots of reasons why dogs may choose to act this way.

So, dog not want to go outside without me?

Your dog’s insistence on always being by your side when you go outside may be a sign of training problems or separation anxiety. Possible contributors include exposure to a traumatic experience in the past, a lack of socialization, physical discomfort or disease, stubbornness, or even just a change in the family dynamic. 

Whatever the case may be, we’ve discussed in this article, the factors that may have contributed to this issue and how to recognize them in retrospect.

Read on to find out.

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Reasons why my dog only goes outside with me

1. Lack of socialization 

Dogs that are not allowed to spend a lot of time outdoors or that have not been properly socialized can get fearful of new experiences and can even acquire unreasonable phobias as a result.

In some cases, your dog may not be scared of going outside, but the stuff they find outside may seem new to them, hence the fear.

In other situations, if your dog is accustomed to staying indoors most times, then he might find the idea of going out on his own fearful.

Teaching your dog to be independent depends on getting him socialized. Your dog will become more accustomed to the concept of going outside with other people and dogs as you expose it to more social situations and encourage him to go outside alone or with other humans.

2. A change in the environment 

Dogs are very sensitive creatures and they will pick up even the minutest changes in their environment. 

While most changes are positive, your dog may find a hard time adjusting to the new dynamic.

Say you just moved into a new house, installed a fence, put up new outdoor furnishings. Or perhaps, someone just moved in next door, your pooch may find this new change uncomfortable and as such may feel uneasy or nervous exploring the new setting on his own unless it’s with you. 

If this sounds like a similar situation with your furry companion, there’s no need to panic as most times, he will adapt with time.

3. He feels separated from you

Many attached dogs become distressed when their owners must leave them. Fido may be experiencing separation anxiety if this occurs.

Dogs experiencing separation anxiety will stick close by your side at all times, this manifests itself in a variety of other connected ways as well, such as your dog not going on walks without you, barking and whimpering when they can’t see you, just laying in front of you, and a number of other behaviors

If this happens, then your dog is just suffering from separation anxiety. Left unchecked, this could get even worse with time. A great way to solve this problem is by seeing an animal behaviorist.

4. Negative association 

Have you noticed any unusual behavior from your dog when you try to let him out on his own? More like he has access to the outdoors, yet he still won’t go out there alone to urinate or play, despite the fact that he clearly needs to.

If a dog has had a bad experience outdoors in the past, he could act grumpy or even fearful. Your dog may have associated the outside environment with an unpleasant memory.

For instance, if your dog were outside at the time a thunderstorm rolled through, he might link the frightening noise with being in the yard.

If this happens, your dog will associate being outside with unpleasant emotions and will become fearful whenever this situation arises. Your dog fears the outdoors because he associates it with the traumatic experience he had there (the sound of thunder).

5. Fido is just being headstrong 

It’s possible that your dog’s reluctance to leave the house isn’t rooted as deeply as you might think, especially if he will only go when you accompany him. 

There’s every reason to believe that your dog is just being headstrong. This is most observed in senior dogs who won’t do anything else that lie around all day.

Putting up an interesting routine in most situations will solve this problem, as your dog probably thinks there’s nothing exciting happening outside.

6. You unconsciously encouraged the behavior

Your furry friend will adapt to routines just as you will.

What this means is that your dog’s preference for only going out with you may be the result of a long-standing pattern that you only recently became aware of.

You may have unwittingly bred this behavior by only allowing your dog to go outside at the same time you do or by never letting him out when you aren’t around. If this is the case, then it’s more of a habitual problem.

7. Your dog may be struggling with an illness or pain

When dogs become bonded to their owner’s, they form a formidable attachment. This becomes obvious when they become hurt due to an illness or injury. At this point, nothing soothes them better than the presence of the one they’re bonded to.

It’s possible that your dog has been hurt or is experiencing pain, and the only thing he wants is for you to be near him at all times, this includes going outside.

So if you are unable to accompany him when he goes outside, he may as well decide that going outside is not an option for him at all.

How to get my dog to go outside without me

Build positive associations 

If your dog has just been through something traumatic or gets anxious when it’s time for him to go outdoors on his own, this is most likely because of the terrible experiences he has had in the past that are connected to being outside.

Developing positive associations is a powerful strategy that can be used to address this issue. 

You can get things started by feeding your dog outside in the yard. You might also try taking the majority of his favorite toys outside with you when you are with him.

If he continues to play, you will have to take turns moving inside and going outside to watch him. You are showing him that there is nothing to be afraid of when he is exposed to the outside world in this way. Also, he will discover that the “outside” can be gratifying in its own way.

Use positive reinforcements

Include delectable goodies in Fido’s daily routine of going outside with you. Give him the kinds of treats he loves but rarely gets.

When you’re both out together, pay attention to whether he stays close by your side the entire time or if he wanders off to discover more while he occasionally takes a glimpse of you.

If he continues to stand by your side, you may need to take further action, as it is likely a behavior problem.

If, however, he makes a step toward investigating his surroundings while you are still within sight, give him a treat and let him keep going. Do it a few times, and each time strive to move farther away from him.

When he seems to be at ease with this, it’s best to leave him there for a time. After a short while, come back out and give him a reward. Before committing more time to staying indoors, try this out a few times.

You may also reward your dog for using the doggy door. This way, your dog will realize the outside world is not as dangerous as he formerly thought. And now, according to the method of positive reinforcement, he views time spent outdoors as a rewarding activity.

Final thoughts on my dog will only go outside with me

Dogs can often develop certain behaviors that may seem new to their human caregivers.

Does your dog find it difficult going outside without you? There’s lots of reasons that could be associated with this behavior. However, knowing why they do it is key to finding a proper solution to the problem.

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