Afraid of the dark? Help Please

Hey everyone I have a little issue with Zaire that I have never run into with another dog, and hopefuly someone on here has some ideas for me.

So we moved into the new house almost 2 weeks ago. The dogs now have a fenced back yard that they can play in. As such I have stopped taking them out on their leashes to do their buisness, They have all enjoyed having the run of the yard.

Zaire does well when I come home from work, and on the days I have had off. Now on my days off I usually try to sleep in untill about 7am, so when we get up and go outside it is already light out. On work days I am up at 5am, and it is still quite dark out. The last couple of days Zaire has refused to come outside in the mornings. She just sits right at the door inside the house. I tried to pick her up and take her outside and close the door, but she just sits right up against the door. The problem with this is that she will not go out to pee in the mornings now when it is dark, due to this she has been making a mess in the kitchen as soon as I open the door to let the other two in. It's like she has worked so hard to hold it so she doesn't need to go out to the dark yard that she imediatly has to release when she gets into the kitchen where the light is on.
The first day she did this I thought it might be because it was raining and she didn't want to go out. But I have noticed that she is hesitant to go out last thing at night as well. I can tell when she sits at the door and refuses to come out that she is quite nervous.

So sorry for this being long winded, I wanted to give as much detail as possible…... Have any of the rest of you dealt with a B who appears to be afraid of the dark..... I am not sure how to help my little girl to be more comfortable with this, the kitchen is tile so I really could care less about her peeing in there, it just adds to my morning. But it is a whorible habit, and she holds it all day while I am at work, so it's not a random accident... she just has to go so bad in the mornings when she wakes up, and wont go out to do it. I just want her to be brave...she DOES look really quite upset when she is looking out at Charlie and my roomates min-pin out in the yard in the dark..... any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanx,

WE put on motion lights for the dogs.
BUT also, my dogs don't like to mess in their yard where they play and run.
So, we walk them to do their business and they have a doggie door to use when we are at work.
This might be something you have to do now.

My first basenji was an apartment dog for 3 years. Then we moved to a duplex with a yard. Nicky refused to use the yard, he would go out but wouldn't do any business. So we kept walking him twice a day. We know have a house with a nice yard. He will occassionally pee out in the yard, usually to mark the fence line so the neighbors' dogs don't get any ideas about "his" yard. He still gets two walks a day along with all my girls.

You will probably have much better luck walking Zaire if that is what she is used to. It is probably more of an issue on days you work because on those days she has less "quality" time with you and so the walks are higher value.

Are you going out with her? And if you are, what do you do while you are out there? Have you tried taking her out in the yard on her leash, and 'pretending' it is a walk?

Jack is afraid of the dark too. He stares off into the shadows and slowly back up, like there is a huge monster he is afraid will eat his head off. He will even hide behind my legs. I usually have the light on when I go out there (I'm a little afraid of the dark myself). The only other things is that when it is dark, and he acts afraid, I don't really give in to it. I usually just step to the side when he tries to hide behind me. The most I'll do is say, "silly dog, there is nothing there."

And another thing to always keep in mind with dogs that have a problem with the dark is "are they having eye problems". One of the first signs of PRA is night blindness

Ruby was afraid of the dark when I first got her. However, I realized that it was probably because I never took her out in it during the summer and then come fall, bamm…no light in the morning or after work at night. Now, they both get walked every morning @ 4:30am for about 2 - 3 miles and around 10ish at night, so they know that the dark is part of their routine and not just a 2 minute portion of it.

Anyway, I solved Ru's issue with the dark by hanging a camping lantern on the back fence (the front is lit up by the porch light). I would stand by the lantern and tell her to pee (or poop) and wait for her to go. Once Ru realized I wasn't going inside, and consequently she wasn't going inside, until she had done her business, she would speed off the porch, go and then run right back up. At our house, the same goes with the rain...she stays out until she goes...but so do I. I have no doubt that if I just put her outside without supervision, she'd come back in and let it go in the house.

Also, she was never allowed to refuse to go outside. If she balked at the dark (or rain), I would pick her up and carry her out and talked to her about the dark being no big deal and try to make it fun. She's so used to the dark now, that the lantern is no longer needed.

Brando could care less about the dark or the rain. As the vet said to me, he's the most easy going basenji they've ever met.

@tanza:

And another thing to always keep in mind with dogs that have a problem with the dark is "are they having eye problems". One of the first signs of PRA is night blindness

That is really interesting and I wondered about that with Ru. She has mild PPM, and just CERF'd fine, but I wondered whether the PPM could affect her sight in that way.

@Quercus:

Are you going out with her? And if you are, what do you do while you are out there? Have you tried taking her out in the yard on her leash, and 'pretending' it is a walk?

I will try that tomorrow…I am outside with her in the mornings...I try to walk out away from the deck where the other two are so she comes over, but she refuses to leave the door..it sounds like the leash may be worth a try...durring the day she doesn't have any problem going in the yard...she has already claimed a "Special Place" to do all her buisness....I just can't seem to get her to go out to it in the morning.

@tanza:

And another thing to always keep in mind with dogs that have a problem with the dark is "are they having eye problems". One of the first signs of PRA is night blindness

Good to know… I have not had her eyes checked since she was a little one... I was waiting untill 1 year (December) but I will certainly keep that in mind as well and make sure I have her eyes looked at this winter.

Jazzy is afraid of the dark. Of course, we have 1/2 acre that butts up against the forest wherein live coyotes, bears, and at least one cougar – We've had coyotes just outside the fence in broad daylight.--so maybe her fear is justified, LOL.

She's become far braver now that Keoki is here and the two of them often bolt out into the darkness at night. But usually she stops at the edge of the deck and peers out for a while before venturing out to pee and she never pees at night outside the reach of the porch light.

I am starting to feel better about her reactions to the dark…I have to say one great thing about this community is that it helps you to not feel so alone with what you and your B are going through...I have a porch light on one side of the house in the back...I think I will change it out for a motion sendor light so I can leave the switch on (it's in the garage or I would just turn it on when I get up in the morning) and see if that will help Zai feel more comfortable.... One thing with these dogs, when they are unhappy or a little afraid their faces sure show it...it almost breaks my heart that she looks so nervous sitting there on the porch looking at the other dogs running around in the dark.... So a light and a leash it is for now. 🙂 we will see how that works the next couple of days.

@renaultf1:

That is really interesting and I wondered about that with Ru. She has mild PPM, and just CERF'd fine, but I wondered whether the PPM could affect her sight in that way.

PPM rarely effects vision… so that should not be a concern... even my almost 17yr old who had LOTS of PPM, even visable to the naked eye, never had vision problems (at least not till very old age that he is now, but not due to PPM)

@tanza:

PPM rarely effects vision… so that should not be a concern... even my almost 17yr old who had LOTS of PPM, even visable to the naked eye, never had vision problems (at least not till very old age that he is now, but not due to PPM)

Great! Thanks, I've been wondering about that. Probably should have asked the ophthalmologist, but I totally forgot about it when Ru was having her eyes checked…I was just happy to hear that she was clear of PRA so far.

Yes, PRA usually doesn't show up till over the age of 5, however sometimes it can begin earlier. I do know of one boy that showed the first signs at 3yrs.

We have a dog door, fenced yard, mine have always been independent and able to go out anytime to do their business. About 6 weeks ago Topper started refusing to go out, I only realized it when he soiled the house for the first time in over 10 years. (He will be 13 Oct.1) I realized that the other 2 were going in and out, but Topper wasn't. I started taking him out briefly just in the front yard or across the street morning and at night, and my husband took him out a couple of times during the day. He loves to walk in the neighborhood, but at night or dark-morning, he only wanted to just do his business and run right home. I have no idea what caused his change in behavior, I was very happy to see him going out the dog door this very afternoon!

Something may have frightened Zaire while she was out at night, if so you will have to use a lot of positive reinforcement and hopefully, like Topper, she will start to feel safe again out there.

Motion lights may help, I have devices called "Pup-lights" that are like the human 'headlights' but they hang under the collar and light the way for the dog, designed for those who run or bike with dogs after dark. We use ours mainly at the dog park and Eddie loves it, runs like a maniac with all the other dogs following him and his 'headlight'.

I'd bet something spooked her and now she needs a change, walks out front for awhile, then you going out with her in the yard on a leash and learning she is safe there at night.

Good luck!

Anne in Tampa

Remember as they age the eye sight goes… all of mine at home right now are over the age of 14... only the 14yr old will go out without outdoor lights...

I would guess it is the dark that is spooking her... and not something that spooked her.... I put in energy efficient "bulbs" and leave them on when it gets dark... as not only do the need to potty more with elder age (like a puppy) but they do not see as well.... I can live with the added expense of the lights being on... for their comfort... at least for now....

So I went out and purchased two other posts for my ground lighting timer last night. So now the lights automatically come on in the morning also. I got the kids up today and put Zaire on a leash and took her out back with with me to her spot. She went right away. I let her off the leash once she was done and she stayed right with me untill I went back into the house. I then gave her breakfast and opened the back door and went outside. When she was done eating she came out to the door and saw that I was out in the yard. She cam out and did her after breakfast buisness. I am thinking that she really just wants to have a little light out in the yard to see what she is doing. I am going to try tomorrow to just take her out without a leash, but with the lights on and see if she seems more comfortable. I just want to thank you all again for your knowledge and willingness to share experiences….it is such a benefit to everyone that we have this community. 🙂

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