My fiancée and I adopted a 4 year old purebred female chocolate lab from friends of our family. She is very obedient both in the house and on a leash, but when she gets outside she does not respond to her name, won’t sit, play or anything of the sort other than sit and bark at us when we approach her. When she is alone she wanders around the yard, but as soon as either of walk outside she barks at us as if she doesn’t know us. However, like I mentioned before inside she is very obedient, playful, and friendly. Any advice on how to get her use to us outside to where she is responsive?
I have started putting her on a long rope so she has the freedom of the back yard and when I call her to go in, if she doesn’t respond I yank on the rope and she comes in just fine, its when she is off the rope she’s back to her normal self.
This is a tricky situation as older rescued Labs can often come with some emotional baggage from their prior owners or with prior abuse. On the positive side, it seems you have the prior family to inquiry as to what may have happened in the past to make this chocolate beauty act in such a way. Sometimes it is as easy as finding out what spooked her when she was younger and working to create positive experiences.
If she were brought into my own family, I would do as you are doing with the rope in the backyard. This will assert your alpha role in the pack and let her put the command to come inside with the action more easily. Just make sure it is a quick tug on the rope to get her attention and don’t reel her in as that will not serve the purpose.
I would also try to make it into a game. For instance, if I have a difficult time getting either of my dogs in from the backyard, I will use a high-pitch voice while saying the command “inside”. It is just like they did the most wonderful thing ever and I am cheering for them. This easily gets their attention and they want to make me happy so they come inside for the fun and games. I also switch on and off with giving treats to come in the house so that way they come in and get a treat for being so good.
Just remember that whatever positive action you take to correct this; you continue to do it consistently and persistently. It may take days or even months for her to catch on but one day she will.
Oh! And ignore the barking. Giving attention to it will make her think it is what she needs to do to get your attention. Just go about spending time in the yard and ignore her until she comes over to you quietly and submissive.