Strange new fear

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Postby jcoffey917 » February 2nd, 2010, 9:11 pm

Sorry this is long, I just want to get all of the details in...

I'm not sure where this has come from, but Cooper all of a sudden has what seems like an irrational fear of our backyard. He'll be 2 at the end of this month and every day since he was 16 weeks old, I've let him out the back door to go in the yard at least 4 times a day. He goes down the back stairs, goes to the bathroom and then comes back up to the door when he is ready to come in. The last 2 or 3 days, he seems terrified to go in the backyard. Even when I just open the back door, he'll run back into the house and I'll have to go grab him and then pretty much push him out the door to go outside. The last 2 nights, he wouldn't leave the back door before bed until I put on shoes and took his collar and pulled him down the stairs and into the yard. Last night I had to hold his collar the whole time we were outside until he peed because every time I let him go he ran back up on to the stairs and I didn't want to let him in for the night without going. Then this morning, I let him out and he actually went down the stairs on his own. I let him in about 10 minutes later and went back upstairs to get ready for work. When I came back down about 20 minutes later, Cooper had pooped and thrown up on the carpet in the living room. I just cleaned it up and put him in his crate for the day in case he got sick again during the day. I came home on my lunch and let him out- no more vomit and he hadn't gone to the bathroom. He peed again in the yard, but I had to go out with him and he ran back to the stairs as soon as he peed. He hadn't eaten his breakfast so I figured he didn't have to poop again. I got back from work around 7 and let him out of his crate again in to the yard. I walked out there with him and he peed and ran back to the door. My roommate was just in the kitchen doing dishes and he pooped on the kitchen floor right next to her! He didn't give us any indication that he needed to go out again. He has never gone to the bathroom in the house (except when he was sick and had diarrhea) since he was probably 20 weeks old. I have no idea what could have caused him to have this sudden fear of the backyard and don't know what to do to get him over it.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 2nd, 2010, 9:14 pm

Do you leave him out there alone ever? Could somebody have harassed him and frightened him while he was out there?
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Postby amazincc » February 2nd, 2010, 9:30 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:Do you leave him out there alone ever? Could somebody have harassed him and frightened him while he was out there?

I was thinking the same thing.

When I came back down about 20 minutes later, Cooper had pooped and thrown up on the carpet in the living room.

Or... could he have gotten into something "forbidden" and eaten it? He might associate the vomiting/not feeling well w/the backyard also. Is it possible for anyone to throw trash, etc. over your fence?

Lastly - how is the weather? Is it cold, rainy, snowing???
Faust peed in the kitchen the other day, because he'd slipped on ice and fallen down the front stairs the previous morning during a snow storm. That's what I get for laughing at him. :rolleyes2: lol
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Postby jcoffey917 » February 2nd, 2010, 9:44 pm

He's never really out there alone for more than a few minutes, I think I would have heard someone out there if they were harassing him- he would definitely have been barking his head off and I always run out there when he starts barking and let him back in. He doesn't like one of our neighbors and has always been scared of him, but he's been there since I got Cooper.

The weather has actually been a little nicer than usual lately- cold, but not snowing or rainy. And he usually loves the snow. Our backyard is pretty barren, so there isn't really anything back there for him to get into. I did take a lap around to see if anything had gotten over the fence that might have made him sick this morning and didn't see anything. He started being afraid before he got sick as well.

He could have slipped and fell down the stairs, I never thought of that. He doesn't seem sore or anything, but then again, I don't think I have ever seen him show pain.

Any ideas on how to get him over it?
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Postby amazincc » February 2nd, 2010, 10:45 pm

Leash-walk him in the yard for a few days... stay out there with him. If his stomach has settled, reward him w/some really good treats for going to the bathroom.

After Faust fell down the steps he was very reluctant to go out... he wasn't physically hurt, but I think it scared him enough to want to avoid the stairs.

(Well... it's possible I bruised his ego by laughing. :wink:)
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Postby fenella » February 3rd, 2010, 1:30 am

Hmmm. Well, Murphy develops weird, irrational fears all the time. He was terrified of the back a while back. I finally figured out that the neighbor's curtains were blowing out the window and he was scared for some reason :|
Murphy developed a fear of his food bowl last year. I couldn't figure it out at all! A few weeks later, I noticed one of his tags in between the crates with the jump ring all stretched out. I figure he got his tag caught on his crate while he was eating = fear of the bowl.
My point is that sometimes dogs get scared of weird things and make strange associations that we don't even think about. Could be a scary sound, could have been stepping on something sharp out there...you may or may not figure it out.
I agree with the above. Take it easy for a while. Make the back yard super fun. Murphy is very food motivated, so even with his fear of the curtains, he'd go out to hunt for kibble in the grass.
Good luck!
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Postby jcoffey917 » February 3rd, 2010, 10:15 am

I leash walked him last night and this morning out there and he seemed to be a little better but still pulled as soon as he was done going to the bathroom to get back inside. Hopefully he'll keep getting better. His stomach seemed fine the rest of last night and this morning, so we'll try treats this afternoon.

Thanks for the help :)
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