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Dog Won’t Come Inside? 6 Reasons & Solutions for the Behavior

One of the best things about dogs is their reliability. After all, what other animal (or human) do you know will always come running when called? All you have to do is stick your head out the door and yell their name, and here they come, sure as anything.

But if your pup has suddenly stopped coming inside when called, there are a few reasons that this might be happening and a few things that you can do to fix it.

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Why Your Dog Won’t Come Inside

It’s impossible to list every reason that could be causing your dog to refuse to come back inside, but there are a few common ones.

Figuring out the why is critically important; otherwise, you’ll never figure out how to solve the problem.

1. They’re Adjusting to the New Environment

If you just moved to a new home or if your dog just moved in with you (especially if they came from a shelter), then they’ll want to spend as much time as possible learning all about their new environment.

Let’s face it: As interesting as you are (and your dog undoubtedly considers you the most interesting person in the world), you can’t compete with all the smells in your backyard. Your dog will come in eventually, but only when they’re done exploring.

How to Solve It

There’s not much that you can do about this except give it time. The good news is that the behavior should soon resolve itself, as your dog will grow accustomed to the yard while simultaneously deepening their bond with you.

You can also spend this time working on recall training. That should help keep the issue at bay moving forward, while also letting you spend more time with your pup, which will make you more interesting than your yard.

puli puppy outdoor
Image Credit: bodzazsuzsa, Pixabay
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2. The Yard Is Naturally Self-Reinforcing

This issue lasts well beyond the time when your dog should be adjusted to the yard.

The fact of the matter is that yards (and the outdoors in general) are extremely fun for dogs. There are smells to sniff, birds to chase, mailmen to bark at, and much more. It’s understandable that they’d want to spend as much time out there as possible.

This can be doubly problematic if your pooch associates going inside with something bad, like being put in their crate (or if you punish them for not coming when called).

How to Solve It

You can’t make the yard less interesting, so that’s not worth fighting. Instead, you have two options to choose from, or you can use both in tandem.

The first option is to let them stay outside until they grow bored. This should work most of the time, but it’s not an ideal solution if you need your dog inside right now, like if you’re trying to leave to go to an appointment, for instance.

You can also try to give them as much outside time as possible. Let them go with you every time you go out, and put them outside several times a day. This will help take some of the bloom off the rose, so to speak.

The other option is to try to make coming inside more attractive. Keep plenty of toys inside for them to play with, and spend as much time with them inside as possible.

Reward them when they come inside as well, rather than yell at them or punish them for taking so long. If they learn that being inside is as fun as being outdoors, they’ll gladly come in when called.

dalmatian walking outdoor
Image Credit: TheOtherKev, Pixabay
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3. They Spend Most of Their Time Outdoors

If your dog is outside most of the time, they’ll eventually become more comfortable there than inside. They’re habit-forming creatures, after all.

Just like you have your favorite easy chair, they have their favorite sleeping spots, their favorite sniffing spots, and their favorite barking spots all staked out. If these are all outside, that’s where they’ll want to spend most of their time.

How to Solve It

The best way to solve this issue is simply to let your dog spend more time inside and try to make sure that the time they spend inside is at least as rewarding as the time they spend outdoors.

If you play with them, give them treats, and lavish attention on them whenever they come inside, they’ll be more interested in what’s happening in the house. With time, they may prefer being on the couch next to you instead of working on their favorite digging spot.

Labrador Retriever lying outdoor
Image Credit: Rebecca Humann, Pixabay
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4. They Have Poor Recall

Recall is your dog’s ability to come when called. If you were lax during your training, they may not know that they need to run to you when you call their name (and they may not even know their name).

Also, if you only ever call your dog to punish them or do something that they don’t enjoy (like giving them a bath or brushing them), they’ll form a negative association with their name, making them less likely to come when called.

How to Solve It

You’ll need to spend more time training them on recall. That means rewarding them — either with treats or attention — every time they respond to their name.

This may take time if they’ve already formed a negative association with their name, but with enough time and dedication, you can eventually convince them to come running every time you call them.

Don’t worsen the negative association by scolding your dog, chasing them, or grabbing them by the collar either. The idea is to make them eager to come to you, not make them dread it.

white yorkie lying outdoors
Image Credit: Olivia Spink, Unsplash
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5. They’re an Independent Breed

Some dogs are eager to please, and they will be more than happy to run to you every time you call their name.

Other breeds march to the beat of their own drummer. They may come to you, but only if they feel like it. Many of these breeds were actually developed to work independently and make decisions on their own, so you’ll see working dogs like hounds, shepherds, and sled dogs among their ranks.

How to Solve It

The only answer is more training. The good news is that the types of breeds that are independent are also usually intelligent and eager to learn, so they should take to training like a fish to water.

They may still hesitate at times (like if the mail carrier is here and they haven’t received a good barking at in a few days), but they should eventually come around.

goldendoodle outdoors
Image Credit: Pixabay
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6. They’re Overly Protective

Some dogs take their titles as Head of Home Security seriously. They realize that they — and their awe-inspiring barks — are the only thing standing between their families and certain peril.

These dogs may be so busy patrolling the yard and barking at everything they see that they don’t feel like they can leave their post. You’ve basically got a workaholic dog on your hands, which is annoying when you (or your annoyed neighbors) just want them to take a break.

How to Solve It

Training is your best bet here. They need to learn that the chain of command runs through you so they’ll stop working and rush to your side when you want them to.

It may also be worth investing in a taller wall or putting up a privacy fence. If your pup can’t see all the threats out there, they can’t bark at them.

You can also try to keep wildlife out of your yard. Fill in any gaps in your fence, remove bird feeders or baths, and put up pet-safe repellents all around the perimeter.

As a bonus, if your dog stops barking all the time, you’ll pay more attention when they do, which could come in handy if things ever go south.

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Just Don’t Call Them Late for Dinner

With time and effort, you can get your dog to run inside every time that you open the door. Even the most skittish dog can be convinced to come when called, so there’s no reason to put up with avoidant behavior for long.

Your dog should want to be inside, right next to you. Before long, they’ll let themselves in, grab the remote, and put on “Paw Patrol” while asking you what’s for supper.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay