Thanks to everyone for all of their advice about how to improve Guion and Pyrrha’s relationship, particularly with the issue of her refusing to go outside with him. You have all been such an excellent resource to me, in this journey of raising our first dog, and I can’t thank you enough!
I am very happy to report that we have got this issue–Pyrrha being afraid to go outside with Guion–pretty much LICKED.
And I think this was the trick: I went out town for a long weekend and left the two of them together to sort things out. We got some great advice from our trainer and put it into practice. I think the key for Pyrrha was giving her a sense of choosing to go out and having a safe place to retreat to if she ever felt too scared or trapped.
We talked with our trainer the night before I left, and I think she gave us some really great advice. She recommended that Pyrrha needs to always have an “out.” Forcing her to go outside only pushes her over her threshold. Instead, she needs to be able to “choose” to go outside with Guion. Plus, being with Guion should always have tons of positive associations (i.e., load up the hot dogs!).
How did we manage this? The night before I left, Guion fed Pyrrha her dinner outside in the sunroom, which leads out to our fenced-in backyard. I stood in the living room and didn’t get involved at all. To our excitement, she followed him out there willingly. Guion put the bowl down and then walked away, leaving the door to the house open. She ate her meal quickly and happily out there, totally unconcerned.
Before we went to bed that night, Guion asked her to come outside with him. This is where she normally balks and runs to me or into her crate. This time, I hung back and didn’t get involved at all. He opened the door to the sunroom, having already propped open the door to the yard, to give her more freedom. To my surprise and delight, she followed him when he called her. She hesitated over the threshold, but then she went outside on her own volition! Guion left the doors open and then came back inside, to give her the choice to come in when she wanted. She did her business and came in.
I left for my trip feeling very positive about their progress. Guion reported to me that she went outside with him the whole weekend without a single moment of hesitation. I was thrilled! I honestly didn’t think she was going to make that much progress so rapidly. Now that I’m back, he can ask her to come outside with him, and she does! This is huge. (It also relieves me of all of the potty duties, which I was previously having to shoulder.)
Guion was disheartened, I think, that they hadn’t made MORE progress while I was away, but I’m counting this as a sizable victory. I think he expected them to become BFFs 4 Ever in my absence. I wish this was the case, but, as with most shy dogs, Pyrrha moves a lot more slowly than your normal, well-adjusted pooch. I’m proud of her for overcoming her considerable fear of Guion asking her to go outside. I see this is as a big step toward a better, stronger relationship for the two of them.
Maybe I should go out of town more often…