Outdoor vs Indoor – Which is Better for your Dog?
Papa loved his dogs, but I don’t remember them being in the house very much, certainly not the way my dogs are now. Back then, dogs were treated differently, usually they stayed outside, but no one thought of it as abuse or neglect. Nowadays, the idea of a dog being left outside all day and night seems like neglect. But why? Is it because dogs have become such an integral part of our families, it’s no longer acceptable? Is it better for the dogs or are we coddling them? Is this more of a USA phenomena or worldwide?
There are certainly farm and working dogs who’s life is spent outside, guarding their owner’s property or livestock. But those working dogs are few and far between. Most dogs are pets and members of the family, of the pack. It’s important to remember that dogs are pack animals, they are very social and thrive on interaction with humans and other dogs. Isolation in the backyard with little or no interaction leads to boredom and anxiety.
Papa’s dogs were with him all day long. They followed him around tending to the farm and to the other animals. They were collies, and although we didn’t have any sheep for them to herd, they got plenty of mental stimulation and exercise by being farmhands. They probably spent more time with my grandfather each day then apart from him.
There are many reasons a dog might be kept outside. It might be that the dog sheds too much or hasn’t been potty trained properly or has behavioral problems. But these are not the dog’s fault, they are the human’s fault. Lack of care and training is no reason to punish the dog by banishing them from the home and their pack. That is likely to make the problem worse.
A dog kept outdoors with little or no interaction with their pack is bound to develop problems, excessive barking, digging and even aggression. In addition, a dog kept tethered or even loose in a fenced yard is susceptible to other problems including:
- Theft or escape
- Injury from chain or rope
- Teasing or taunting from local youths
- Sunburn, heatstroke, fly strike
Another argument made for keeping dogs outside is “they need the fresh air”. Yes, of course they do, just as humans do, but regular exercise in the yard or neighborhood is sufficient, 24/7 is no more necessary for a dog than it is for a child.
We get concerned when we notice a dog left outside for significant lengths of time. We’ve had issues with neighbors who leave their dog out, go to work and don’t realize the dog just barks all.day.long. Time’s have changed and people are outside less each day, they are inside, glued to their screens, so their interaction with an outdoor dog is almost non-existent. That’s no life for a social animal like dogs.
What do you think? I found this interesting post just the other day that takes a look at this same issue: Experts discuss whether leaving Fido outdoors is natural or neglectful.