Why Is My Dog Afraid To Go Outside?
[How To Help Your Dog Overcome His Fear]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Many pet parents are left feeling perplexed and unsure when they try taking their fur babies out and come across an unwilling companion. After all, most canines love to play. So, you may wonder what on earth is bothering your dog. As a dog trainer, it’s my job to help you understand the needs of your doggos and to provide the best possible solutions to resolve any behavioral issues your fluff balls may have. 

There is a definite possibility that your pooch is afraid to go outside. But, it isn’t a problem with no remedies. You see, most dogs tend to get frightened to go out when they come across certain medical or behavioral concerns. 

But, before you become paranoid about your dog’s well-being, it’ll be useful for you to read through the entire article. That’s because you’ll find the many reasons why your dog may be scared to go outside listed below in detail. And what you can do to help your doggos away from their fears.

Possible Reasons Behind Your Dog Being Scared To Go Outside

To begin with, you need to know that you are not alone. Many proud parents of canines have encountered similar situations. It’s a phenomenon by the name of ‘doorway phobia.’ Also, there’s no concrete way of knowing what may spook your dog. So, you can only make conjectures about the cause of your dog’s uneasiness about heading outdoors.

But, in most cases, dogs tend to prefer staying indoors when they feel intense fear or pain, or both in some scenarios. As a dog trainer, I can point out quite a few reasons that are contributors to your dog’s bizarre behavior. Moreover, you’ll even learn to recognize some of the symptoms too. 

New Puppy Blues

Puppies love to move about and get hyper-excited about their walks. But, the moment you put on a leash, your pup may not appreciate being restricted in such a manner. If your puppy hates the introduction of this new gadget into its life, it may just refuse to go out for walks. 

No worries. The smartest way to introduce something new into your pup’s life is to go slowly. Try using a new leash on your dog at home for some days for short intervals. Do so for several days for a limited time every day. By the time you are ready to take your pup for walks with a leash, your dog will have gotten accustomed to the idea of having a leash on. 

Health Concerns

Canines with hypothyroid tend to suffer from loss of appetite, weight loss, and lethargy. Some dogs do face hypothyroidism. And, if their thyroid levels are low, your dog will have no desire to play, exercise or go out for a walk.  

Also, after a certain age, dogs suffer from weakness of eyesight or weakened hearing. There are many circumstances where a canine can lose their vision altogether or have very poor eyesight. Diabetes or cancer are some of the significant factors. 

Similarly, if your dog is unattentive to your calls, doesn’t react much to the doorbells or the vacuum, then you ought to realize that your pet is undergoing health issues. Hearing loss often results from parasitic infections or tumors. Many times it is merely the age factor that makes your fur baby blind or hard of hearing. 

So, you’ll see that your once active dog no longer flips over the thought of long walks or games of fetch. It is a natural reaction to receive from a canine. When your dog feels unsure about where they may go or what they may face, they’ll steer clear of it. 

If you feel that your doggo is off, it’s safe to head straight to the vet. An early diagnosis and treatment can easily lead to a healthy dog. Not to mention, save your pup from excruciating and unnecessary pain. 


Humans experience depression quite acutely. Yet, depression can be found in dogs too. Your sad pup will no longer want to play or go out if it is suffering from depression. Dogs become so withdrawn that they tend to lose sleep and appetite in depression. 

It isn’t clear to determine the cause of depression. However, if you do witness that your dog appears withdrawn and stops participating in all of its regular activities, then it’s time to head for the vet’s office. 

Moreover, depression in dogs is often associated with isolation. If your dog feels alone and often left with no company for long hours, then you need to consider changing your routine. Your puppy requires your love and attention. Your care and time can bring your ailing dog back to its feet. 

Distressing Events

Canines have heightened senses. They see better, their sense of smell and hearing is keen, and they perceive things differently than humans. So, your dog may have experienced some shock on a walk that you didn’t even notice. 

Sometimes, something as simple as a car’s engine backfiring or an accident along the road you walked can trigger intense fear in your dog. Most pet parents do not realize their pet’s needs and try to resolve the matter with force. 

Fear isn’t mitigated with force; it only intensifies with it. So, never try to put a leash on your dog and try to drag it out for a walk. You’ll make your doggo more afraid. Also, you’ll weaken the bond of love and trust between you and your pup. 

Lack Of Proper Training And Socialization

If your pup hasn’t been given the training, it needs to be around strangers and other animals; going for a walk anywhere will be a problem for you and your pet. Your dog isn’t going to be enjoying the walks in the parks. Instead, there’s going to be quite a bit of anxiety and trauma involved for you and your fluff ball. And, maybe that’s the reason why your dog doesn’t want to go for walks. 

Early socialization and training make life easier for pet parents and their pets. However, if you’ve adopted a dog that hasn’t received the necessary training or socialization, you need not despair. There are plenty of behavioral animal experts and dog trainers to help you out. 

Uncomfortable gear

There are ample examples where new pet parents walk into a pet store and buy all the wrong gear for their fluff balls. It’s an honest mistake that many parents make with their kids. Yet, when a child is uncomfortable, it’ll let you know in so many words. But, if your pet is suffering due to a cinching collar or a restrictive leash, your doggo may start to dislike the prospect of walks altogether. 

How To Get Your Dog To Stop Being Afraid From Going On Walks?

Training requires a tremendous amount of patience, perseverance, and love. You have to try to see things from your pet’s perspective, never rush, and always encourage positive reinforcement. 

Now, these are things that are easier said than done. Sometimes, pet guardians tend to lose patience and end up doing more harm than good. In such cases, I recommend using a certified dog trainer to help you along the way.

A Consult With The Vet

Suppose you have a dog that loves to play and go for walks but suddenly refuses to go out for walks. And, the strange behavior is persisting. You feel that your fur baby is losing sleep and not eating right, then do not wait a moment longer. It’s time to go to the vet. 

You see, you want to be on the side of caution and get your dog checked for any medical symptoms. If your pooch receives a clean bill of health, at least you’ll sleep easy knowing your dog needs an attitude adjustment. 

Healthy Diet and Constructive Exercise

Yes, walks are essential. But, you have to realize that the purpose behind exercise is to channel all that extra energy into healthfulness. However, if your dog freaks going out, then don’t force it to do so. Your canine is supposed to feel relaxed and refreshed after walks, not traumatized. 

So, you wonder what you ought to do to provide your pet with constructive outlets of energy. Well, you can offer your doggos with indoor games. There are great interactive toys available on the market that can keep your pet entertained. If you have a backyard and your dog feels comfortable going there – that’s where you can play with your fur baby. 

The more time, love, and attention you give your pet, the better it’ll feel. It’s said that dogs recover from trauma sooner with the exclusive attention of their owner.

Healing Power Of Baby Steps

As mentioned earlier, don’t force your dog to step outdoors if it feels threatened. It’s called flooding. And you cause your pet more trauma. The idea is to desensitize your doggos with any stimuli that spooked them. So, each day treat your dog with snacks and try to take a step closer to the door. You’ll have to move a step forward each day. 

It’s a long drawn process, but it’ll put your dog at ease every day it senses your support. Eventually, you’ll witness that your dog will approach the front door or beyond without trepidation. 

Another essential aspect to remember is that at no point should your dog be exposed to any sudden or loud sounds or movements during the process. 

Always Research Before You Buy 

When it comes to animals, you’ll want to research anything new before you introduce it to your pet. It’s a principle that applies to everything that concerns the well-being of your fluff ball. The diet, the training, the vet, and the gear you use for your dog are something you should know about before making use of it for your pet. 

So, if you want to try out a leash, or a new brand of chewable treats, or even toys, ask a friend who has experience with dogs, ask the vet or do as much research as you possibly can. That way, your puppy won’t have any ill-effects from using something meant for it.

The Pay-off

It’s inevitable to feel a little of your league sometimes when caring for pets, particularly dogs. Canines feel everything far more keenly than humans do. And, their love and trust for you are so complete that the sense of responsibility for pet guardians is intuitively multiplied. 

Yet, some forethought, a little research, and training will do wonders to help you resolve any issues that your pet may face. Mix that with expert advice from a certified vet and tons of love, and your pet will live a long and healthy life.