For most humans, home isn’t just a place to sleep and eat but it is also their entertainment hub. They have TVs, laptops, books, and video games as well as hundreds of other ways of keeping themselves busy such as cleaning, cooking, drawing, or socializing with the other family members. Dogs, however, don’t have as big of a variety of activities or ways to pass their time. In fact, they can’t even freely relieve themselves at home. They can sleep, eat, play with their toys, follow you around, and maybe get petted. They have even fewer things to do when you’re at work and they are alone for most of the day. Having the above in mind, it is not surprising that dogs love being outdoors and always want to go outside as for them this is where all the action happens.
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs descended from wolves, which are creatures of the wild so it should come as no surprise that their blood relatives also really enjoy their time outdoors. Our canine companions can enjoy more freedom when they are outside than they can at home. For example, they can freely relieve themselves wherever and whenever they want during their walk. They can feel the vast space around them and regardless of being on a leash or not, they feel that they can roam free and explore the world.
Dogs enjoy being outside because to them it is where everything interesting happens, especially if they have been at home for most of their day. During a walk, they can use their amazing sense of smell to identify and discover new odors, mark their territory by leaving their own scent on a tree or bush, they can see new places, and meet other dogs. Considering the fact that dogs are naturally very social and curious creatures most of them really enjoy bumping into their old four-legged friends or making new ones.
Dogs are also incredibly active creatures who need a lot of physical exercise and movement to burn their energy to remain healthy both mentally and physically. Insufficient physical activity is actually detrimental to their health and thus can negatively impact their behavior. Lots of dog owners don’t take this responsibility of owning a dog seriously enough. They don’t have much time in the morning before work and they are tired when they get back from work, leading to short walks which are essentially just quick bathroom trips around the block. Unfortunately, this is nowhere near enough exercise to keep a dog healthy, let alone happy. Being outdoors is critical for your dog as it allows him to get the physical exercise he needs, stimulates his senses, and provides him with some variety in his daily life. You should try to spend as much time as possible with your pet outdoors and if you can’t then he should at least have access to the backyard where he can still get sensory stimulation from his surroundings. At the same time, don’t leave your dog outside for extended periods of time (more than a few hours) without supervision. Remember that dogs are social pack animals and need their family for interaction to feel sane and happy as well.
Encouraging the Behavior
You should encourage your dog’s love and appreciation for the outdoors and facilitate it as much as it is possible. Allowing your dog to be active is vital for his health and it is in his natural instinct to want to be outside. Hikes, trips to the dog park, long walks around the neighborhood together, and games of fetch in the backyard are all great ways to spend time with your dog outside and encourage physical exercise, which is healthy for both of you. In addition, spending time outdoors with your dog and making sure he leads an active lifestyle can strengthen your bond with one another.
The only time you should not be encouraging your dog’s behavior is if he’s demand barking to go outside or wants to go too frequently (more than 5 times a day) and then wants to come back after a few minutes. In both cases, it is advised to see a dog trainer about the behavior, especially to tackle the demand barking. In case your dog requests to go outside but then wants to get back inside after only a few minutes, it is recommended to see a veterinarian as he might have bladder issues or a urinary tract infection which causes him to act this way.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Our canine family members not only need the outdoors for exercise and mental stimulation but also for the opportunity to go to the bathroom and relieve themselves. Dogs should go outside to do their business between 3 and 5 times a day, with not more than 6 to 8 hours in between the trips.
Though dogs do get vitamin D primarily through their diet, they do also get some of it from sunshine, which is great as they happen to love laying in the sun. Sufficient vitamin D levels are essential for a healthy heart and development of bones and teeth. However, you should not be supplementing your dog’s diet with Vitamin D as in large amounts it can cause toxicity in your dog’s liver. If you suspect your dog to be deficient in Vitamin D, you should consult your veterinarian and follow the prescribed treatment plan.
As dog owners, we need to remember that though there are many perks of having an adorable, furry friend it also comes with responsibilities, which are still there even when we are tired or busy. Facilitating outdoor time is one of the main ones as it is key to your dog’s happiness and health and should never be neglected. An active dog is a happy dog!