My discussion of the pros and mostly cons of keeping a pet dog outdoors exclusively comes with a caveat.
I stipulate that my thoughts do not apply to every dog’s circumstances.
There are farm dogs whose greatest joy is being with their people and “helping” with the work. Other examples perhaps, are teams of working sled dogs who spend their entire lives outdoors.
Livestock guardian dogs actually live and bond with their wards. In effect the herd becomes the “pack” that is so important to a dog.
The crux of the matter is that these dogs have a meaningful bond and relationship either with a pack or their master.
Dog behaviorists, trainers, veterinarians and rescue volunteers inform us that dogs, like wolves, are highly social pack animals.
In order to thrive they need contact with humans because they are their “pack.” Canines are also den animals. Your home provides a safe and secure place to sleep and hang out.
There are reasons why dogs become backyard residents.
Pet dogs sometimes are relegated to the outdoors because of behavior problems, destructiveness and not being housetrained.
These can be resolved through training and proper management when the pet first joins the household. Perhaps the decision to get a pet dog was not well thought out.
Many people acquire dogs and keep them outside for protection. Experts in dog behavior have learned that in actuality, most of the time, they are ineffective guardians.
Dogs will naturally defend what they consider to be their territory…the place they live in. If they are not allowed in the house, their instinct to protect it will not be as powerful.
Dennis Fetko, PhD commented on this topic: “what do you think I want to steal -- your lawn?”
If dogs do bark at an intruder, it usually is ignored because the canine already has the habit of barking incessantly
When isolated from his pack (your family), your dog can become stressed and anxious.
They may dig holes, bark, howl, whine, chew and damage everything.
They tend to fence fight, try to escape and jump fences.
Sometimes aggression develops against you, your family or friends. They can easily become entangled in tie-ups and harm themselves.
These dogs can be stolen, poisoned, teased or accidentally released. Neighbor complaints generate visits from animal control.
Backyard dogs can have chronic health problems. They get fly strike on ears with sores and maggot infestation.
As a result of boredom and frustration, dogs develop obsessive habits such as pacing, tail chasing and self mutilation.
Page 2 of 2 - Many families end up giving up these afflicted dogs.
The future aspects for them are grim.
Those of us who are passionate about our pets and have shared our lives with them want to keep our pets indoors only. It is easier to get to know and bond with them…and they with us. It is their inherent instinct to be living with their pack.
Having a pet dog in our homes can be an incredible bonus to our lives. They are capable of such love, devotion and companionship.
Pets have an unending capacity to bond with us and become an integral part of our families.
Having an inside pet is worth the effort if you have the desire, time and circumstances to manage it.
We all know of beloved pet dogs who are exclusively outdoors.
This works for them because of their unique nature, favorable circumstances and devoted owners who bond and spend time with them.
The needs of these dogs for meaningful companionship, safe shelter and important “work” are met.
Everyone has the right to manage their pets surroundings as they see fit but there may be something to be learned here.
Anne Divine is a long time member of LAWS and has volunteered at Animal Control for 18 years. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.