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Big dogs outside have big barks. Your large dog may enjoy being outside. But he also may intimidate the neighbors, small children around the neighborhood, or smaller dogs next door. If staying in your backyard or running free might be more appealing to your dog then lying around your living room, training him to be an inside dog might take some time. But once your big guy is used to being in the house, he'll find comfort there as well. If you're living in an apartment or a townhouse with close neighbors, you need to be able to teach your dog to be inside without being miserable enough to bark all day there as well. This is a simple training, giving him safe spaces where he can find comfort just as he does when he's outside. Your large breed dog may also be very protective of your space and the people in your home.
Some dogs believe they can protect better from the outside. Teaching him that his role is to be inside will also help him want to be inside the house. To give him this control for protecting your house, you can start by giving him small areas in the house to protect or to call his own. Doing this will ease him into wanting to be in the space you have assigned to him. You can do this by keeping him on a leash in the house so he has the feeling of being outside. At first, if you are using a leash for indoor training, you may need to take the big dog outside when he sees the leash because he may be used to being out on a leash. Make this a quick trip outside, and when you get back in just don't take the leash off of him. Leave it on so he feels like he's still on duty when he's in the house and has the power to do his job. Another thing you will need to focus on is creating this space that is his. His space should have his belongings, his comforts, and give him a reason to want to be indoors instead of outside.
To convince your dog to be inside all the time you're going to need a leash, lots of lovey toys, a comfortable bed, and some treats. If you give your dog treats inside of some fun toys, he can associate playtime with inside as well. If your dog wants to be out to watch the world revolve around him and protect the center of his universe then assign him to a special room where you keep his belongings and where are you with your family.
The Comfort Leash Method
Attach a leash to your dog and walk him around your house from room to room.
Stop in special areas of your house and give your dog a reward as you're walking through the house with him on the leash.
If you have a fenced-in space for your dog outdoors, take the leash off and take him outside for a quick visit such as to go potty.
Once your dog is back inside the house, put the leash back on him and take him for another walk around the house and give him a reward at the end.
Your dog will associate the leash with being inside and with you. As long as he has a fenced-in yard to go potty he will not need a leash outside.
Keep it up
If your dog is enjoying being inside more and more, you can eventually take the leash off of him when he's inside. He may not like having the leash off when he's inside because it may become comfortable for him. If this is the case you can have him sleep with the leash nearby.
The Special Place Method
Create a special place for your dog by giving him his own bed in a room he enjoys being in. This will likely be the same room you and your family are in the most, such as your family room or even your bedroom.
Offer lots of toys and things to do inside. If he likes to be outside because it's entertaining then he's going to need to be entertained inside.
Along with toys, give your dog some special puzzle toys so he can earn treats while he's playing. Be sure not to take any of his toys outside when he goes outside. Having indoor-only toys gives him the chance to learn that fun is inside and can't be taken outside
When it's time to play with your dog, play indoors. Make outdoor time potty time and exercise time only. Interactions you have with your dog that consist of playtime need to happen inside so he wants to be inside to be with you and play.
Also create special cuddle time with your dog indoors. This could be in your dog's bed, in your bed, on your couch, or even on the floor. During this time you want quiet play, so your dog should be somewhat tired, not excited and eager to play. Give your dog lots of love and attention and even some treats while you're cuddling. This is another activity that will encourage him to be inside instead of outdoors.
Make outdoors work
When your dog is outside, keep it to business only. This means you can take him for a walk or run or play with an outdoor toy with him such as a tennis ball to wear him out and he can use the bathroom outside. However, don't stay outside very long, leaving him to believe the fun is indoors only.
When your dog gets to go outside to play or exercise with you, tire him out so he's ready to come inside and rest or play quietly.
Anytime your dog earns a treat for something, even if it's something he has done outdoors, always give him the reward inside.
The Protective Dog Method
If your dog is used to protecting a house outside and now needs to be an indoor dog, he's going to need something to protect.
Make a big deal out of a special room that your dog is to be in charge of protecting. This room can be your kitchen or your family room or even a room that's not used as often. Your dog can also be assigned to the front door or the back door. He may be more comfortable in a room that doesn't have as many windows or he may be more comfortable looking outside from his task force room.
If this is not where your dog's bed is usually, place an extra bed in here so he has a place to rest while he's on duty.
To get your dog used to being inside, go on patrol with him in this room, every so often encouraging him to protect the room. This might mean you walk the room together along the perimeter giving him treats as he does his job of protecting and then you sit down and rest together.
Because this is your dog's special space to protect, anytime you have a guest coming in, prepare them by letting them know that he is on duty in this room. They should not approach him but rather let him approach the guest. Anytime you watch your dog on patrol or greeting mode give him a treat for a job well done.
When you take your dog outside for exercise, wait to give him treats until he is in his special room inside the house. He will begin to associate indoors with rewards and his job of protecting the home.
Be sure as you are teaching your dog to stay inside, he is also housetrained. Rescue dogs especially, may not be housetrained if they are used to being outside all the time.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 12/15/2017, edited: 01/08/2021
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