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border collie with agoraphobia

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Hi, it's me again: the owner of the rescue dog who won't leave the yard. We haven't had thunderstorms for a few days but the problem isn't getting better. I've scheduled an appointment with his vet this week and am open to medication if that will help.

This dog is about five years old and we don't know much about his past, but some other rescue dog owners have suggested that perhaps he was kept in a barn or some other enclosed place for long periods of time. He has no fear of people and is great with other dogs, but the terror in his eyes when he gets far from the house is truly heartbreaking. And as I mentioned before, this all came on quite suddenly: for the first six weeks we had him, he was happy to run several miles every day.

I appreciate all of your support and welcome any suggestions.

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That's so sad - I'm no expert on this by any means but here's a thought (which you may have tried already) Take him out only as far as he's comfortable - turn around - praise/play whatever makes him happy. Repeat several times during the day (if possible) but only so far as the dog is comfortable. It's just a thought that maybe he can get over his fear gradually.

Since you said this happened suddenly, there probably was something in the environment that spooked him and you wouldn't have any clue as to what it was. I was at a seminar where the dog had associated her owner's outside clothing with an incident that happened when they were out walking. She can't put those clothes on without the dog racing to hide under a bed!

Good luck - I hope you manage to get him over his fear.

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And as I mentioned before, this all came on quite suddenly: for the first six weeks we had him, he was happy to run several miles every day.


It's weird how things can manifest. I had a foster dog that came to me because of separation anxiety. Her first 3 weeks in foster care were perfectly fine. Then, one day, she chewed a hole in the wall. Bad. Right down to the electrical. (I have my own comments about why and adult dog, rescued from a reserve who lived as a stray her whole life was never crate trained, but, that's another story!) Up until that point, she never showed any signs of anxiety. After that point she would jump a 6ft chain link fence (or break the pins for the door with her teeth) to get to people, pace and pant when stressed or enclosed and lick her paws. She was a mess. She came to me, we put her on medication, kept her under threshold as much as possible and started crate training using positive reinforcement. It helped a lot. She got adopted and as far as I know she's been good. Slightly anxious but not nearly as bad as she was when she came to my house!


It is also true that there could have been a trigger that you don't know about! My own dog has a similar issue. One day out of the blue she decided she wasn't leaving the front yard. End. Of. Story. 3 years later, lots of positive training, confidence building and believe it or not a foster dog and she's ok with going out. She was fine if we went in the car, but to walk to the end of the block was a task. She got to the point where my boyfriend and I both had to be with her. If one of us weren't, we'd only get about 5 minutes from the house and she would just shut down. But it was the extra boost of confidence the foster dog that she needed to get over this issue. I don't know what it was or how it happened, but she just doesn't care anymore. I still take it slow with her, if she does stop after half a block, I keep happy and go the other direction, but don't go home, make her go a little extra and then go home. This doesn't happen very often at all though.


I would suggest getting into some classes or talking to a trainer about taking classes that will help with confidence building and earning your dogs trust. I've had some major breakthrough's with Daisy and a knowledgeable trainer! She's fearful of people, but if people don't give her direct eye contact, she will now walk up to them, sniff their hand and return to me, looking very proud. This is not something I taught her to do, she just does it because she knows I won't let anything bad happen to her. I have turned into her safe place. Which I think you and your dog would both benefit from!


Dog Appeasing Pheromones might help too? I don't have an issue with medication at all, but I feel it should be a last resort (even for my self). I would try finding and excellent positive trainer and going that route first.

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Have you tried distracting him while walking? I had a very similar problem with my previous dog. After 6 years of walking the same street, Casey suddenly was petrified to go any further. She bucked, pulled, and did anything she could to get home. This went on for several days at the same spot in the road. What worked for us was, from the moment we left the house, I would run in circles with her, constantly slap my thigh, talk to her excitedly, tease her with a tennis ball, until we got past the spot in the road. My neighbors thought I was crazy. If she started to panic, we would turn around run towards the house and then turn around and run toward the spot, jumping and playing the whole way. It took a couple of days, but she eventually forgot all about it.



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That's a great suggestion. This morning, he went right out the back gate and we went for a 2-mile run. I have no idea what changed but I have implemented some of the suggestions from this forum. Yesterday, I took him into the yard several times and praised and treated him every time he went out. It was really heartwarming to see him romping in the park. We went to the vet this morning and she suggested a DAP collar, so we'll see if that helps. Thanks again for your support!

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